I’ve written quite a bit about about Jane before, and mentioned how excited I was to hear her speak again. With only a brief nod to her two best-sellers, Reality is Broken and SuperBetter, she used her keynote speech this year to explain and expand upon her role as a professional futurist.
No, a futurist is not a fortune teller, and the futurist doesn’t predict the future. In fact, the Institute for the Future (IFTF), where she works, prefers a different slogan entirely, “We are making the future.”
You see, practicing futurists use different methodologies to forecast possible futures that might occur, given what we know now. To do this, McGonigal and her colleagues generally use a simple 4-step process for considering the future:
- Collect signals from the future.
- Combine into forecasts.
- Create personal foresights.
- Play with the future — with thousands of others.
A quick example she walked us through centered on forecasting one possible future for food. First, she took note of two technological developments as carrying signals from the future: 3D printing and virtual reality.
More specifically, 3D printing of food items, and research showing people experiencing a meal in virtual reality (VR) taste bland food items as whatever food they thought they were eating within the VR (within reason). A separate VR experiment demonstrated an increased level of empathy for cows when viewing a VR simulation of life from the bovine point of view. Add in the carbon impact of various foods, especially meats, and you can forecast one possible future:
Magical Mystery Meals: Food shortages will be addressed through 3D printing of cheaper, low-carbon-footprint food substances — which then can be enjoyed in fancy VR meals simulating high-end dining.
Mentioning that futures forecasting works best on a timeline looking 10 years into the future, she then wondered: what will learning look like in 2026?
She is sharing one possibility she foresees via a website/game (of course!) called Learning is Earning 2026.
Rather than have me explain how edublocks will allow anyone to use their own learning experiences as a currency — similar to how Bitcoin functions as a currency, and how the block chain technology is being used to help provide assistance for social change efforts — let’s have Jane explain it.
So, here’s Jane McGonigal’s excellent SXSWedu 2016 talk in its entirety:
Bonus points: Follow along with Jane’s talk in my doodle from that day.
Double bonus points: join us in making this possible future. Join in creating our future learning economy, starting now.
See ya later — back in the present!