6 People and Organizations With An Eye On The Future

While most companies and non-profit organizations are concerned with the problems immediately affecting our society in the here and now, others take a longer view of things. If you're curious about how advances in technology might affect our lives generations down the line, these six voices offer opinions, solutions, and actions that represent a realistic but hopeful vision for the future. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Names Forward-Thinking People Should Know

Name Work
The Long Now Foundation Promotes long-term thinking through projects like the 10,000 Year Clock, which chimes once every 1,000 years, and The Rosetta Project, an archive of over 1,500 languages
Ross Dawson Futurist and author who leads workshops and gives presentations to help companies and organizations anticipate developments in technology and business in order to respond effectively to a changing world
Transport Futures Aims to improve transit systems in Ontario and across Canada by discussing sensible regulations, finding sustainable funding sources, and planning for changes like the rise of autonomous vehicles
Quantumrun Consulting firm and news publisher that helps clients make and understand predictions about projected changes in the marketplace and societal transformations due to technological advances
OAS1S Design company whose mission is to create synergy between people and the natural world through innovations in green architecture, known for its "treetowers" model
We Mean Business Global nonprofit coalition working with influential businesses worldwide to address climate change by setting targets for reductions in carbon emissions and advocating for a sustainable future

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  1. "Gone" by Michael Grant
  2. "The Peripheral" by William Gibson
  3. "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons
  4. "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  5. "The Body Electric" by Beth Revis
  6. "LIFEL1K3" by Jay Kristoff
  7. "The Abyss Beyond Dreams" by Peter F. Hamilton
  8. "Binti" by Nnedi Okorafor
  9. "Pushing Ice" by Alastair Reynolds
  10. "Ancillary Justice" by Ann Leckie

Ross Dawson on the Future of Retail and Travel

In Depth

One of the clearest defining features of contemporary society is its accelerating pace of change. Thanks to growing populations, industries in flux, and rapid innovations in technology, people and institutions must be prepared for constant adaptation. But this also means that the potential for dedicated visionaries to shape the future has never been greater. In no particular order, here are six individuals and groups offering creative perspectives on the world that lies ahead.

Starting off the list is #1, The Long Now Foundation, intended to provide a counterpoint to the accelerating pace of contemporary culture, promoting long-term thinking as a corrective. Its signature initiatives are the 10,000 Year Clock and The Rosetta Project, both mechanisms and symbols of human endeavor looking far beyond tomorrow. Set within a series of chambers carved from a mountain in western Texas, the Clock is designed to keep time for the next ten millennia, ringing just once every thousand years. The Rosetta Disk is an archive of over fifteen hundred languages etched in microscopic scale, to carry the words of our species into the distant future.

Along with its flagship undertakings, The Long Now Foundation sponsors a variety of initiatives intended to foster an expanded view of time, and to challenge existing concepts of the future. Examples include PanLex, an attempt to build a truly comprehensive world language database, or the Long Server, a cluster of projects aimed at ensuring continuity of data storage. And through their blog, events, and discussion space, they share innovative ideas about the world to come. Readers can support the Foundation's work by donating or becoming members.

Along with its flagship undertakings, The Long Now Foundation sponsors a variety of initiatives intended to foster an expanded view of time, and to challenge existing concepts of the future.

Next up at #2 is Ross Dawson, globally recognized as a leading futurist, keynote speaker, and strategy advisor. The Founding Chairman of the Advanced Human Technologies Group, Dawson aims to help companies, organizations, and individuals anticipate developments in technology and business, in order to respond effectively to a changing world. He delivers presentations, and leads advising sessions and workshops, using his strategic frameworks and other tools to assist leadership teams in refining their vision for the future.

As well as a speaker and strategic facilitator, Dawson is a bestselling author. With books like Getting Results From Crowds, a guide to the effective use of crowdsourcing, he explores how the evolution of technology will drive changes in business, infrastructure, and everyday life. He discusses these themes further in his blog, featuring articles about the transformations he foresees in fields from healthcare, to politics, to our most basic human interactions.

Entry #3 is Transport Futures, a series of learning events coordinated by Healthy Transport Consulting, with the aim of improving planning for transit systems in Ontario, and in Canada as a whole. Developed in response to the increasing demands placed on the region's roadways, this organization seeks to develop more sustainable means of funding, building, and regulating the transportation infrastructure of the future.

Developed in response to the increasing demands placed on the region's roadways, this organization seeks to develop more sustainable means of funding, building, and regulating the transportation infrastructure of the future.

Gathering thinkers from around the world to offer perspectives on transit policy, the Transport Futures events are designed to spark important discussions about solutions for challenges like long-distance travel and urban sprawl. Past conferences have discussed issues including autonomous vehicles, expansion of rail service, and the projected impacts of changes in fuel taxes. They have also provided a forum for direct debate between candidates for office, spotlighting their proposed responses to transportation needs.

#4 on the list is Quantumrun Inc., a hybrid consulting firm and news publisher, with a focus on futurism. Their goal is to help companies better understand how emerging trends will affect their businesses, as well as providing the public with insight into what those changes mean for everyday life. They offer their clients services like advice on building a market for novel ideas, or sponsored content to enhance brand perception, while also generating detailed predictions about the world to come.

Quantumrun's website features a collection of forecasts about upcoming transformations in technology and society, complete with a timeline specifying when these developments are projected to occur. Examining contemporary innovations and cultural shifts, these articles attempt to enable readers to visualize their lives in the years ahead, as they're disrupted and augmented by new possibilities. More in-depth series explore the ways that specific areas of human activity, like employment and crime, will be affected by the changes on the horizon.

Examining contemporary innovations and cultural shifts, these articles attempt to enable readers to visualize their lives in the years ahead, as they're disrupted and augmented by new possibilities.

Our #5 is OAS1S, a design company whose mission is to create synergy between people and the natural world through innovations in green architecture. Dutch designer Raimond de Hullu, envisioning an urban environment more closely resembling a forest than a modern city, has proposed a model for human habitation based on "treetowers" that meld seamlessly with the landscape. The concept aims for unity between technology and nature, creating a living space that combines the benefits of parks and high-density neighborhoods.

More than just a new look for residential buildings, the OAS1S model proposes a transformation of urban and suburban planning. This vision would see human populations moving from neighborhoods designed around car traffic to aesthetically pleasing, nature-inspired, and environmentally friendly garden cities. The company's pilot projects, resorts located in Canada and Jamaica, are intended to provide a luxury experience that demonstrates the novel possibilities of the OAS1S design approach.

The final entry on our list is #6, We Mean Business, a global nonprofit coalition working with influential businesses worldwide to address climate change. They mobilize leaders in industries from transportation to food and beverages, helping them to set and meet targets for reductions in carbon emissions. Their Climate Policy Tracker lets users explore regulations and agreements pertaining to energy, pollution, and greenhouse gas production, providing a variety of options for companies to take action.

Their Climate Policy Tracker lets users explore regulations and agreements pertaining to energy, pollution, and greenhouse gas production, providing a variety of options for companies to take action.

We Mean Business aims to offer a detailed vision of a future that is no longer reliant on fossil fuels, with articles that detail necessary changes in business practices, or place a spotlight on companies working to drive key improvements. They also advocate for government policies to move the world closer to a sustainable future. The organization offers a number of resources to assist policymakers in pushing for progress on climate change. Corporations looking to get involved can sign on to a wide range of initiatives on the group's website.