The Fork In The Road Project is growing quickly. We are now starting to create events that will further expand our audience, so we are happy to announce our first ForkTalk!
The inaugural ForkTalk with speeches by Philip Kotler, Brenda Cooper, David Houle, Bronwyn Williams, hosted by Gerd Leonhard & Glen Hiemstra. This free FORK-TALK event will feature the 3 initiators as hosts, and these 4 world-renowned keynote speakers presenting a short talk each, followed by Q&A:
Brenda Cooper: Stories of the Future: Science Fiction as a Visionary Tool
Brenda will touch on the power of story as a way to spark interest in the future, to explore possible solutions, and to either warn or instill hope.
Brenda Cooper is the award-winning author of twelve books and more than fifty stories. She is the Information Technology Director for a large construction company in Seattle. WA; Lease Crutcher Lewis. She occasionally gives talks on the future.
David Houle subject will touch on a high-level look at what needs to be done. The basics needed to change our trajectory at this fork in the road of the 2020s.
David Houle is a futurist, thinker and keynote speaker. He has keynoted numerous conferences across the country and internationally. In the last fourteen years he has delivered 1200+ presentations and keynotes on 6 continents and 16 countries.He is regularly invited to speak at corporate management retreats.
In this short talk Bronwyn will explain the undercurrents that have become cracks in our social contract and highlights the pitfalls we need to avoid if we wish to heal rather than widen those divides. She will be highlighting the importance of holding space for diversity and divergent ideas about the future without falling into the twin traps of discrimination or forced homogeneity.
Bronwyn Williams is a futurist, economist and trend analyst from Johannesburg South Africa. She is currently a Partner and foresight lead at Flux Trends and is the co-author of The Future Starts Now, published by Bloomsbury in 2021. She is a regular media commentator on socio-economic trends and has consulted to large company boards and public sector institutions alike on how to dream, design, and build better futures for all of us.
Philip Kotler will share how Nordic democracies consistently rank the highest in multiple categories. Might they be a model for global capitalism?
Philip Kotler is known around the world as the “father of modern marketing.” For over 50 years he has taught at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Kotler’s book Marketing Management is the most widely used textbook in marketing around the world.
This FREE event will be held on Zoom (where all members / signatories can join and contribute, up to 100 seats are available) and will be live streamed on Youtube as well. Links will be sent to all registered participants prior to the event. Please register on Eventbrite.
At her speech for the first edition of the #forktalks, Brenda touched on the power of story as a way to spark interest in the future, to explore possible solutions, and to either warn or instill hope. Here are some of her book recommendations mentioned during her talk, as well as other good reads suggestions from Brenda.
All Manifesto topics
· The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson, 2020
· Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds, 2012
· New York, 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson, 2017
· The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi, 2015
· Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver, 2013
· The Great Silence, by Ted Chiang
· Loosed Upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams, 2015
New economic and political frameworks
· Stealing Worlds, Karl Schroeder, 2019
· The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler, 1993 (also Climate)
· 1984, George Orwell, 1949 (Dark, but important)
· Karl Schroeder, Degrees of Freedom, Hieroglyph, Stories and Visions for a better future, 2015
· The Phoenix Horizon Trilogy, PJ Manney, 2015 – 2021
Children are our future, in every sense of the word. But what might that future be like, and how might it shape the lives of young people? Thanks to COVID and numerous other social, ecological, and technological shifts taking place right now, the future of childhood is evolving.
So what happens when three leading female futurists come together to envision what the children of the future could be like or what world they might inhabit? The result is this article, that shares creative and thought-provoking profiles of five kids from the future.
1. Solarpunk Kid
“One of the five kids of the future is called Solarpunk kid. Solarpunk is a sustainability philosophy and lifestyle. It has an edgy fashion and design aesthetic reminiscent of steampunk. While steampunk glorified the Industrial Revolution, Solarpunk is all about the clean, green future,” said Alexandra Whittington, futurist at Partners in Foresight.
Solarpunk is centered around sustainability. For Whittington, the Solarpunk kid of 2030 would be very inspired by technologies like biomimicry, AI, cryptocurrency, and 3D printing because those technologies create abundance. Their parents might have been early adopters of Bitcoin, EVs and smart homes, so they learned early in a very personal way that technology benefits humanity.
“A Solarpunk kid might hold a major life’s ambition like making the world’s first net-zero landfill or inventing new methods of growing sustainable crops. They carry a sense of curious optimism, mad STEM skills, and a creative urge to tinker. They develop interesting life hacks that they teach their friends, such as how to profit by selling excess kinetic energy from your backpack to the grid and what to wear for your upcoming psilocybin trip,” she added.
Overall this kid is someone who considers themselves responsible to future generations. As such, they view human potential as our most valuable resource. They treat this responsibility as sacrosanct and use it as a motive for making up inventions, brainstorming new ideas, and leading new technological revolutions into a positive future.
2. Existential Kid
Existential kid is probably the least surprising young person from the future. By the time they reach their 10th birthday, Existential kid has lived through numerous disasters resulting from anthropogenic impacts on the planet. They may have moved house several times as various ecosystems grew unlivable due to droughts or famines, for example. Power outages and telecommunications service disruptions are a regular part of their lives. Existential kid is expected to tolerate a lot of uncertainty.
“They have a survivalist mentality that translates into a thirst for knowledge about the outdoors, weather, the animal world, and risk. They like camping, content about wilderness, prepping, disaster readiness, and current events. Existentialist kid is not a carefree young person. They share a lot of worries with their parents, who usually don’t try to sugarcoat the truth,” highlighted Whittington.
She continues, “Existential kid is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop: nuclear war, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), AI singularity, climate collapse, and superbugs are just some of the things they’re concerned about the possibility of happening in their lifetime. They keep tabs on different data and media to monitor situations around existential risks facing the human species. They might like to study science, journalism, communication, psychology, technology, and history—subjects that can give rhyme or reason to the unpredictability of life.”
Whittington foresees child development experts and teachers encountering an Existential kid might be concerned about anxiety, paranoia, agoraphobia, antisocial disorders, and unusual phobias. Their parents might have to support them in finding healthy hobbies and interests that balance their fears.
By the 2030’s, being an Existential kid could become a common, but worrisome, cry for help. Some adults may push ‘resilience’ while others applaud young people’s practical realism. The Existential kid always has the upper hand, though, because adults can’t deny the anxious Zeitgeist of the times.”
3. Designer Baby Kid
By 2030, it’s possible that there will be living humans that we would call Designer Babies. This is a child whose parents utilized genetic engineering with CRISPR or some other exponential technology to select their specific features and characteristics. They’d be the youngest of the five kids from the future—probably literal babies in 2030.
For Whittington, some Designer Babies might have been engineered to avoid inheritable disease or as a prophylactic to future illnesses, like HIV or cancer. Some babies might have a gene hack that makes them immune to mosquito bites, for example, thus naturally Malaria-resistant. Others might just be super attractive or have enhanced brains.
“As a small slice of the population, Designer Baby kids feel as different as they are genetically unique. Their lives are rather celebrated, since their parents tend to be wealthy and connected. They might be famous. A Designer Baby kid is often a prodigy of some kind, depending on the genes the parents select. They are not ‘regular kids,” she added.
For Joana Lenkova, strategist and futurist, author of the upcoming interactive foresight book “Choose Your Own Future”, Designer Baby kids could be our modern day superheroes.
“They might be Galaxy explorers, likely the first “solar citizens” genetically protected from the effects of anti-gravity and radioactive waves. Some can last longer in Space, others underwater. They could bring new knowledge about curious subjects we have dreamt of learning about, secrets we have been longing to discover, thus raising the overall level of human intelligence,” Lenkova adds.
By law, a Designer Baby kid won’t be able to have more than one “superpower” and physical strength would be limited to human levels to avoid the dangers of superior physical power. But these healthier kids would defy ageing and live healthier lives much longer. They would be respected but also slightly feared. They wouldn’t often befriend the “regular” kids and would form a sort of “elite”.
“However, they could help the human race adapt to changing living conditions on Earth, or even populate other planets. Accelerated evolution through genetic engineering,” Lenkova says.
4. The Digikid
The best thing about childhood is that our imaginations know no boundaries. We are free to dream, explore, experiment and believe in magic! Somewhere along the way to adulthood, we lose some of that spark. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ask your younger self a question or feel the magic again? Well, you may be able to. There is a place where childhood can last forever and it doesn’t depend on our ability or desire to have children in the physical world.
“The Digikid is born in the virtual universe to a human parent, living in the physical universe. It could be modelled on the parent themselves, some other kid that lived at one point in time, or be a brand-new version of itself developed by an algorithm randomly combining traits from a global human database,” foresees Lenkova.
The Digikid lives, plays, interacts and grows in the metaverse. There are many reasons for parents to choose to have Digikids. Some do that for environmental reasons, others already have a child and want to bring up a Digital sibling, or simply want to get the benefits of parenthood in a safer and more controlled environment. Some want to go back to their childhood and relive some experience they believe shaped them as adults.
For Lenkova, the parent, sibling or guardian has responsibilities and rights, just like in the physical world. They enter the metaverse to communicate with the Digital kids, learn and play together, and have family time.
Digikids might also look forward to the day when they actually work part time or full time in the metaverse creating skins or accessories for avatars, or even living off their inherited NFTs from their grandparents collected and passed on to them as part of their legacy.
“The Digikids could be educated in a range of subjects, like the human kids, and can even attend the same metaverse schools as their human peers. Their education path is chosen by their guardian. The Digikid has certain autonomy and can choose its own friends – human or digital, wear virtual clothes, decorate virtual bedrooms, choose hobbies like surfing or playing in a band, and even perform live to an audience,” she highlights.
Would the Digikid ever grow up to become an adult? We are yet to decide.
5. The Maverick Kid
“Born in the 21st century, dubbed Generation Alpha, the Maverick kid would live well into the 22nd century, because of age-defying life hacks and extended life spans. More time on Earth, more time to make an impact! This generation arrives in record numbers, especially in India, China and Africa.
Lenkova foresees most kids of this generation are shaped by technology, and don’t know the world without it. Born in this digital world, they would achieve technological superiority to any adult by the age of 8. They come with a heavy task on their shoulders and one clear mission: Save.The.World!
“The child of Generation Y, with a Zoomer as an older sister, the Maverick child is empowered, curious, opinionated, passionate about humanity and nature, proud of her individuality, but with a strong connection to community. A true entrepreneur who believes they can save the world! And they really can! In fact, they are our only hope,” she envisions.
Lenkova continues, “The Maverick kid belongs to an international network of like-minded kids, often acquired in early childhood through gaming platforms and interactions. Some of these friendships would last a lifetime, despite never having met in person.”
Others would evolve into business partnerships by the time they are in their teens. The power of this global brain is immense in finding innovative solutions and impactful ways to tackle big world problems like poverty, access to learning and information, clean air, oceans and drinking water, safe shelter from the severe weather and unexpected sand storms.
The Maverick kid sits on the board of big organizations as a “futureholder.” She challenges our world values, systems and practices. Connected and confident in her abilities, she lets compassion be a leading force in her decisions.
“The Maverick kid is not interested in formal education, she learns through experimentation, mentorship and the international network instead. Her dreams involve building memorable experiences, enjoying the wonders of the world and space, and building a legacy that she hopes the following generation will improve and evolve further,” concludes Lenkova
Why We Need To Envision The Future of Childhood Today
The future is impossible to predict, but necessary to imagine. In this article we have depicted merely five scenarios of what the future of childhood may look like. Envisioning the future enables world-changing innovations. We should not underestimate the power of childhood creativity and passion to challenge entrenched worldviews.
Going forward, who would Gen Alpha pass the baton to? Enter generation Beta! We can’t wait to see what mark they leave on the world.
Cathy Hackl is a globally recognized tech futurist. She’s a business executive, keynote speaker & strategist with deep expertise in AR, VR, spatial computing, virtual goods, virtual worlds & the Metaverse. One of the most influential women in tech, Hackl is considered a leading management thinker by Thinkers50 & a top technology voice on LinkedIn. She founded the Futures Intelligence Group & has worked for some of the biggest names in tech including Amazon Web Services, Magic Leap & HTC VIVE.
Joana Lenkova is a futurist and strategist, founder of the London based strategic foresight consultancy Futures Forward. She has a vast experience, working with multinational blue-chip companies across a wide-range of industries (AB InBev, Societe Generale, Disney), NGOs and start-ups. Joana is a graduate of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford in Strategy and Innovation. She has recently joined LEGO’s Creative Play Lab as Director of Strategic Foresight. The views and opinions stated in this article are her own.
Alexandra Whittington is an educator, writer, and researcher who has earned recognition as one of the world’s top women futurists. She teaches at the University of Houston, where her students describe her as “passionate” about the future. Alex specializes in strategic social foresight through her consulting company, Partners In Foresight. She provides audiences a relatable futurist perspective through articles, books, speeches, consulting, education sessions, and workshops about the future.
In 2019 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that we have only left until 2030 to really prevent irreversible damage from climate change. We are literally the last generation to do so and we have less than ten years to achieve the biggest transition of all times, since humans have walked on this earth. The urgency of the matter cannot be overstated.
Incremental sustainable practices
Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and the Kyoto Summit in 1997, the strategy has been gradual decline of emissions. And yes, since that time we have learned to make “more from less”. The is how capitalism and technology pave the path of progress, as argued by MIT economist Andrew McAfee. We have made progress in dematerialization of products, and digitalized efficiency in energy use and transportation. We have learned how to re-use and upcycle materials. We have learned the importance of ecosystems, such as mangrove wetland forests to protect coastal areas and we have started reforestation in many places.
A carbon hunger world
However, greenhouse gas emissions have not gone down fast enough. And meanwhile, emerging economies, most notably China, have been catching up with the West. The global population is becoming urbanized, with a growing appetite for concrete, steel and a carnivore diet, which are all heavy on greenhouse gas emissions. Also, China as grown to be the manufacturer of the world, which have made Western consumers and industries addicted to all their amazing and cheap products. And I haven’t mentioned travel yet. No wonder the level of greenhouse gas emissions are nowhere were they should be.
The promise of technology yet to come
The strategy behind the gradual decline of emissions, as agreed in Rio and Kyoto, relied heavily on the promise of technology yet to come. As a futurist, I am exited about the profound change that technology can bring. It can radically shift scarcity to abundance. It can act as an enabler of communication, provide access, allow for new behaviors and improvement of health, wellbeing and happiness. But in the case of capturing and storing CO2 emissions, the promise of a technology fix to compensate emissions in order to reach the goal of zero emissions in time has been too good to be true. Scientists now admit and warn that the premise of net zero is deceptively simple.
A glimpse of the climate change future
Meanwhile, we begin to see a glimpse of the climate change future. Bush fires torture the world. From the Arctic to the entire US West coast, to the rain forest in Brazil, to Australia. Astronauts used to enjoy earth watching. In 2020, they felt horror, watching the earth burn. Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica lose their mass at an accelerated pace and may be gone before the end of the century. My home city and country, The Hague in the Netherlands, might be gone due to massive sea-level rise, if climate change is not mitigated.
Do we feel it?
And yet, we don’t truly seem to feel the urgency. Yes, we love to see the students protesting, but is it enough? We know the facts, but we don’t feel it deep down how climate change will affect us. The writer Jonathan Safran Foer, makes the comparison with an ambulance that has the word ambulance written on it, so you will move your car whether you hear the siren or not. But a boxer doesn’t need to have the word fist written on a fist to know that it can punch him in the face. The emotion and instinct will make him duck and avoid the fist of his opponent. We need to stay engaged in climate mitigation action, even when we don’t feel the emotion. And that doesn’t stop with breakfast.
In these less than ten years that we have left, we need to change fast, implement quickly and adjust to new sustainable practices in ways that will most likely catapult us out of our comfort zone. But hey, despite all the terrible events in the last year and the devastation of COVID-19, many people have experienced that you get used to things such as online meetings instead of travelling.
An image of the future
Fred Polak, one of the founding fathers of modern futures studies was very clear about this. In his words: “as long as societies have an image of the future that is positive and flowering, then the culture is in bloom.” We now need an image of a sustainable future more than ever. We need the imagination to see what this world would look like. This echoes the words of The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Engage in the narrative and join the moon shot missions
We need to long for sustainable futures. We need narratives and images. As futurists, it is our duty to stimulate the collective imagination and to facilitate dialogue about the future, in such a way that we all step up to the plate and start doing what we need to do in these precious nine years that we might have left. Urgency is the keyword. And we all need to dream big. Recently, futurists David Houle, Glen Hiemstra and Gerd Leonhard have initiated the Fork in the Road Project, named after Buckminster Fuller, aiming to start a global narrative that brings 4 existential issues (climate change, capitalism, exponential technological change and human enhancement) into a sharper and wider public focus, and ultimately catalyzes real action by leaders around the world. Economist Mariana Mazzucato calls for moonshot missions to address the wicked problems of today, as outlined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Imagination is our tool to feel engaged. We all need to dream big and join this moonshot mission to slow down the climate change.
Note to readers: This is a unique but powerful vision from Martin, an early #forkintheroadproject signatory
The significant problems we’re facing aren’t being solved: Pandemics attack us, ice caps melt, terrorism continues, millions suffer drought and famine, and the threat of nuclear weapons hangs over our heads.
Have you ever had the thought that we as individuals can’t make any impactful difference, not just in making these situations better, but in ending them. One person can’t really make a difference. One person can’t take on a suffering—war, hunger, disease—and end it. One person can’t take on an institution — government, the financial industry, health care — and make a positive difference. And when you try getting all of us together to solve a problem…forget it. The world’s problems are too overwhelming. We’re stopped by hopelessness, powerlessness, and resignation.
Humanity’s current story is not a powerful narrative for having the world work. It doesn’t empower us with optimism; it doesn’t cause us to engage the major sufferings and solve them; it doesn’t give us a sense that we’re moving in the right direction with a growing momentum. The current story has run its course. It’s ineffective, it’s tired. It needs to change.
What if we choose to create a new story of what it means to be a human and what it means to be the human family, of what it means to be ‘I’ and what it means to be ‘We?’ A new narrative that touches our souls and engages us in creating the kind of world we long for. A new vision that unleashes what we already know deep in our souls about the kind of world we want, a vision that opens the flood gates of optimism, energy, and creativity, and supports us in taking the steps to make our vision for our world real.
We already know how to create hells on earth. Why not create its opposite? Here’s a bold proposal. Why not have ‘We’re co-creating Heaven on Earth,’ be our new story? Why not have our soul’s desire for the kind of world we truly long for be the guiding principle of a new era in humanity’s evolution?
To the skeptics who ask, “What about those for whom Heaven on Earth would be eliminating a particular race or religion, or continuing to pollute the environment?” Those people are the minority, the very tiny minority. Unfortunately, they’re often the people who have an oversized impact on the world’s agenda. No more. It’s time for the vast majority of people in the world who want a good and decent and working world to be in charge of building our new human story.
And, there’s no need to wait. We can start right now. Here’s an easy way to begin. Answer ‘The Three Heaven on Earth Questions’:
1. Recall a time when you experienced Heaven on Earth. What was happening?
2. Imagine you have a magic wand and with it you can create Heaven on Earth. What is Heaven on Earth for you?
3. What simple, easy, concrete step will you take in the next 24 hours to make Heaven on Earth real?
I’ve asked thousands of people these three questions and I’ve observed several very interesting patterns in the answers. People don’t ask me to explain what I mean by Heaven on Earth. Instead, they immediately tell me a time when they’ve experienced it. They instinctively know what Heaven on Earth is.
The ease of answering the first question tells me that there already exists within us a template, a reference point, a built-in standard by which we know what Heaven on Earth is. We then search for the experiences in our lives that match that. It’s the “Already Knowing” about what Heaven on Earth is that is within each of us. We know. We simply know.
When I then tell people they have a magic wand and can create Heaven on Earth, what they tell me is profound. They talk about what their own lives would be like, their family, their work, their nation, and our world. They talk about the end of a particular suffering: hunger, war, homelessness, pollution, etc. They talk about living a global value: peace, love, harmony. People know what Heaven on Earth is.
And how they speak when they answer is so very moving. They are peaceful and still. You can feel truth, clarity, immediacy, and genuineness. They’re sharing a part of their very essence.
Answer The Three Heaven on Earth Questions for yourself. Then ask three other people (friends, family, colleagues at work) and watch what happens. Answering the questions begins the process of creating Heaven on Earth.
By engaging people in creating Heaven on Earth, you help open a fresh, new perspective of our world and what is possible. That world becomes full of opportunities, brimming with possibility. And into this new human story, Heaven on Earth, you are invited to creatively contribute the difference that only you can make. The new story of Heaven on Earth provides the context, you create the content.
Historically, the problem with world visions is that they seek to impose, “Follow my way and it will all work.” Imposing a vision has never worked because it removes freedom of choice. Heaven on Earth is different in a very significant way. It doesn’t impose, it evokes. It evokes the Heaven on Earth that already lives within you.
People do know the kind of world they want but they’re overwhelmed at the thought of making it happen, or embarrassed at what people might say if they talk about it. But once people are given the opportunity to discover their own truth about the kind of life and world they want and feel free to talk about it … a powerful transformation occurs. A part of themselves they’ve always known, and haven’t met, is revealed. When this evoked vision of Heaven on Earth is unleashed, a simple, powerful, and effective creativity emerges that begins positively impacting our world.
You can begin having the kind of world you long for. You can begin living the new story of what it means to be a human and what it means to be humanity. Answer the three questions, then do one simple, easy, concrete step in the next 24 hours, and you’ve begun.
Martin Rutte was the first Canadian to address the Corporate Leadership & Ethics Forum of the Harvard Business School and returned for four years as a keynote speaker. He has worked with many of America’s leading corporations: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Southern California Edison, The World Bank, Virgin Music, and Apple Computer, assisting them to expand their outlook and positioning themselves for the future. He is a co-author of the New York Times business best-seller, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, with over one million copies sold. He was the founding Chair of the Board of the Centre for Spirituality and the Workplace, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada. He is also the founder of Project Heaven on Earth. His newest book is Project Heaven on Earth: The 3 simple questions that will help you change the world … easily.
The 16th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report analyses the risks from societal fractures—manifested through persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, youth disillusionment, and geopolitical fragmentation.
— Read on www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021
“One of the big lessons from the demographic history of countries is that population explosions are temporary. For many countries the demographic transition has already ended, and as the global fertility rate has now halved we know that the world as a whole is approaching the end of rapid population growth.”
“To see the climate city, look to planning texts from Holland that describe “vertical farms,” which are skyscrapers that include agriculture, aquaculture, chickens, pigs, and recycling of all waste within towers of food production. Hydroponics and vat-based food production using yeast, algae, and even meats will also be integrated into these towers. This kind of concentrated agriculture will free up land for other purposes while reducing the transport costs of goods from where they’re grown to where they get eaten.”
In this new book, Houle examines the state of being that people are currently in, and the state of the world that will keep them in cognitive dissonance for the remainder of the 2020s. Cognitive dissonance happens when one’s beliefs are no longer in alignment with reality. COVID-19 is the first in a number of disruptions that will force people to live with multiple, discordant realities as they navigate life and work.
This book reviews earlier eras of massive change. Those earlier eras ranged in length from 50 to 75 years. Houle argues that we will experience just as much creative destruction, volatility and disruption in just the next 10 years. This book provides insight into how to minimize stress and strife, and live effectively, during a constant state of cognitive dissonance.
David has set an amazing introductory price of $2.99 for the eBook, which will be available only until the paperback comes out (in two weeks), so now is the time to get it!