Revolutionary cycles

Like business and politics futurism and foresight are susceptible to short-termism shallow historical perspectives and a focus on parts not the whole. That’s not necessarily bad but you need to recognise what perspective you are taking. Good foresight needs to balance the tension between detail and distance. As one interviewee noted for the Thinking the unthinkable report: “I wish I learned how to have a microscope in one eye and a telescope in the other at the same time. You’d get a massive headache! It’s hard to do. But you have to do both”. Technological trends Most of the focus of reports on technological change (or disruption or revolution pick your preference) are closer to the microscopic end. Catalogues of technological trends or deep dives into particular technologies and what they’ll lead to. They populate a spectrum from “Hell yeah!” to “Hell no!” Bill Gates an example of the former has identified 10 “breakthrough” technologies – everything from power generation and carbon capture to safer pregnancies cancer vaccines better toilets. While the likes of Evgeny Morozov see nothing but the dead hand of capitalism. In between are often more detailed analyses.

Revolutionary cycles
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