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31.07.14

2034 Tech Foresight: Imagining the world in 20 years’ time

2034 Tech Foresight brought members of Imperial Business Partners, including representatives from BT, Syngenta and BTG among others, together with some of Imperial’s cutting edge researchers to imagine the world in 2034.

Curiosity-led research has a habit of generating surprises that are rarely considered in corporate strategies. The conference focussed on the potential positive and negative consequences of today’s innovation, allowing industry leaders to consider the opportunities and threats for their business in the future.

 

Jessica Bland from Nesta commented:

“The future is not predictable. We all know that very well, but it is going to happen anyway. If you can get a handle on what you want that future to look like, then you can play more of a role as an agent in making that happen.”

 

Foresight: Smart dust, digital identity, advanced materials and intelligent future cities

‘Foresighters’ Professors Julie McCann and Chris Hankin from the Department of Computing, Dr Finn Giuliani from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Eric Yeatman from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering presented their visions of the future to delegates.

Data hitching a ride on your mobile phone, our ever-expanding digital shadow, space travel as a commodity and the use of industrial vibrations to power future city intelligence systems were just a few ideas that they explored respectively.

 

Professor McCann said:

“Putting my ideas on the future out in front of an audience was a bit nerve wracking at the start, but having talked to people about it afterwards, it’s been so well received. It’s been fun!”

 

2034: heaven or hell?

Following the academics’ view of the future, the floor was given to the delegates, who took part in ‘Futorial’ sessions. This involved small groups working with a facilitator to dream up a potential heaven or hell scenario of the future, using ideas from the morning’s talks. From automated justice administered through advanced identification techniques and sophisticated digital records to the rise of unofficial ‘data states’, Futorial groups pitched their scenarios to the other delegates, who voted for their favourite.

 

Foresight practice

The conference is based on Foresight Practice, which is the science and art of predicting ‘what comes next’, underpinned by trend research, narrative formation, video production and digital media.

A new technology can destroy one company, while providing a growth springboard for another. Keeping up to speed with the latest innovations and anticipating the future enables companies to take advantage of opportunities before their competitors.

Imperial has vast expertise that can help organisations to solve problems in order to take advantage of these opportunities or minimise the impact of threats. Please click here for more information on Imperial’s consultancy expertise.

The end of the conference is not the end of the conversation, but merely the beginning. If you would like to discuss this or are interested in developing a relationship with Imperial relating to technology foresight, please contact Alex Ayad, Manager of Foresight Practice at Imperial (a.ayad@imperial.ac.uk).