In this session, we want to highlight ideas that could inspire us to think about the future. The state of emergency caused by the coronavirus crisis has raised many different discussions and reflections across businesses and society. We are all considering “what might be next?” and what we can do to better address it. Foresight can help anticipate potential threats and opportunities to mitigate against possible future consequences. In this session, we wanted to bring to life the insights of academics that can help us navigate us through uncertainty and take a longer time perspective. We wanted to share ideas of intelligent and responsiveness use of low-cost sensors data, how you can inspire your team ethically and how we might protect our forests for the next generation. We know that uncertainty is everywhere. But there are ways to embed cultures and ways of thinking that allows us to harness ethical, responsive and insight-driven leadership. But what can we learn from academics to further enhance this idea?
In the first session of this year’s Imperial Tech Foresight: Intentional Creations conference, three academics explore the ideas of decision making in uncertainty for future generations.
Being an ethical leader during uncertainty
We have seen organisations that have been criticised by the motive of their leaders and then subsequently replaced the person in question. What we know is that leadership can help transform selfish motives into pro-social ones – so what might this mean for the future of business? How might we redefine the types of leaders we want? And how will that leadership and purpose alter the organisational structure we expect or demand from companies? Perhaps it comes down to the guiding principles of those organisations. Professor Celia Moore – from Imperial College Business School – will stress the importance of basing a company on strong and solid core beliefs, and adhering to them, even as the business strategy itself adapts to changing climates.
Rewilding our forests for future generations
Changing climate also features within the session, with Dr Cristina Banks-Leite – from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London – explaining how saving the planet should not cost the earth. She explores facets of rewilding and how these ideas can be incorporated into the way we relate to nature. Environmental degradation has been a sad by-product of industrial and economic development for generations, an unintended creation from the demand for raw produce in ecologically sensitive locations. We are finally realising the importance of the natural balance across the globe and now have both the awareness and capacity to make better, more informed choices about how we achieve economic sustainability with environmental protection in mind.
Invisible connections in data
Those decisions can be greatly informed and guided by science. However, with greater transparency in information, and a greater breadth of places from where the data can be gathered, there is an increasing opportunity to better-understand our interconnected systems like never before.
Dr Firat Güder – from Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering – is a specialist in sensors. As the cost of sensing technologies reduces to nearly nothing, they are being found in everything from smartphones to food packaging, and in buildings to boreal forests. The information they provide, put in the context of the wider interconnectivity of things, will provide us with everything we need to make decisions based on data. He specifically works on low-cost sensor technologies we can help us make more frugal decisions from food waste to health care. These sensors can help guide us to make more interconnected business decisions.
Or at least, the insights they provide can guide as to how the decisions we take may affect the world around us.
In the session, we will also have three start-ups representing the theme and sharing how they are working with future ideas that might help reset our futures, from financing tree plantations to reducing the cost of lab-grown foods. Long-term thinking is vital. We need to ensure that the decisions we take are ethical and stand up to increased public scrutiny. Join us at Tech Foresight 2040 to explore ideas around the future that span health, sustainability and leadership. You will be able to take these ideas into practice on how you think and engage with your long-term future.
Imperial Tech Foresight 2040: Intentional Creations is a three-part virtual conference taking place in June 2020, using our understanding of the past, present and emerging signals of change to make better decisions about tomorrow. To learn more about some of the discussion points in this post, be sure to register for the Meta-Motivations session (Thursday 11 June, 15:00 BST) in this year’s Imperial Tech Foresight: Intentional Creations conference.
Interact online by using the hashtag #TF2040, and follow @ICTechForesight on Twitter for updates and information about the event.
Read about Moral Machines, the topic for the second session of this year’s conference on 18 June 2020.
Find out about Malleable Matter, the subject of this year’s third session of Tech Foresight 2040 on 25 June 2020.