by Marina Gorbis, Institute for the Future Executive Director

Image credit: Cindy Shebley, CC-BY-2.0

During the 1930s, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and other photographers traveled around America to document the lives of people living in poverty. The photographers were recruited by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Farm Security Administration to bring into the public eye the haunting reality of rural poverty and thus gain support for government assistance to agricultural areas hard hit by the Depression. …


By Marina Gorbis, Institute for the Future Executive Director

Dictators and wannabe dictators, the category I put Trump in, are quite pathetic once the infrastructure that elevates and supports them crumbles. Think of Saddam, unshaven and unkempt, being fished out of the underground hole, his last hiding place. Or Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s strongman, driving around Romanian countryside in disguise trying to escape the revolution that overthrew his nearly thirty-year rule. Or Pinochet, brought into the Chilean court in a wheelchair, claiming dementia as a defense against prosecution for abhorrent human rights violations. Without the props and symbols bestowed upon them…


Who will deliver the “Cult of Personality” speech to Americans?

By Marina Gorbis, Institute for the Future Executive Director

My mother cried when she heard on the radio that Joseph Stalin passed away. A young, well-educated doctor who loved classical music and regularly recited Heinrich Heine’s poems in German, she was not alone. Millions of Soviet citizens of all backgrounds and walks of life mourned the death of a monster who, over a rein lasting almost three decades, murdered some twenty million of their neighbors, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family members, literary heroes, and beloved artists. As people were disappearing from apartments, parks, and workplaces, sometimes under cover of darkness but…


By Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future

We are at Ground Zero — individually and as a society. COVID-19 has been the shock that is making many of us rethink life plans, reset expectations, change how we see what (and who) is essential. As a society, we are trying to grapple with an unending stream of revelations. How is it possible that in a country with some of the mightiest global companies, nurses and doctors have to sew their own masks and wash and reuse equipment because there is simply not enough to go around? Shortages of toilet…


by Marina Gorbis and Kathi Vian, Institute for the Future

Even as the world stares a hundred-year virus in the face. Even as societies lock themselves down and sever direct social contact. Even as stock markets tumble, as businesses close and households fail to meet their monthly rents, and as governments scramble to plug the gaping holes opening in their economies.

Even as all these very real crises demand immediate attention, there’s a longer story to be written. Right now. Today. …


By Marina Gorbis, Executive Director, Institute for the Future and Nick Monaco, Director, Institute for the Future, Digital Intelligence Lab.

http://www.iftf.org/cognitiveimmunity/
http://www.iftf.org/cognitiveimmunity/
iftf.org/cognitiveimmunity

We are living in an unprecedented information environment. Our attention is monopolized and fractured by a multitude of devices, applications, websites, and notifications. Manipulation has never been so easy or so refined. And mass data surveillance enables exquisitely accurate targeting of manipulative information. Traditional strengths of democratic systems — diversity and freedom of expression — are making us particularly vulnerable to a growing army of media and information manipulators.

Viewing such manipulators as parasites attacking democratic societies’ cognitive immune systems…


“Landscape of the Island,” by Rex Whistler, 1930.

Whenever I call a customer service line and have to sit through a torturous series of non-human interactions — “If you are calling x, press y,” “sorry I didn’t understand you,” “return to the main menu,” “this number doesn’t work,” “enter the number again” — I think of the island of Laputa. Those of you who grew up in an age when children still read books, might remember the floating island Gulliver visited during his travels. The island’s highly educated population was obsessed with mathematics and geometric figures. Everything its inhabitants created, how they communicated, the way they saw the…


The bane of the futurist’s existence is that almost daily you see, hear, or read something and want to scream, “I told you so.” Sometimes, it’s a cause for exhilaration — we got it right — and other times, it makes you angry — why didn’t we do something about it earlier, why did we not heed the warning signs? Right now, I am in the latter state. As stories of Facebook’s deflection and manipulation of public opinion dominate the news cycle, I am harking back to things I and others wrote almost ten years ago, in the early days…


We are living in a long overdue moment of technological reckoning — a time of critically re-examining how social media, artificial intelligence, task-based work platforms, and many other technologies we’ve created are re-shaping our lives, our livelihoods, and our democracy. In many cases, not for the better. Not surprisingly, this moment is wrought with anxiety and confusion. We seem to be suffering from what Alvin Toffler had aptly described as the “future shock,” a condition akin to a culture shock experienced by travelers to foreign countries. …


Institute for the Future Fellows prototype Positive Platforms for tomorrow’s on-demand economy

In less than ten years, according to some estimates, more than a half billion people will be trying to earn a living in the on-demand economy. It’s up to all of us to make sure this new economic system works for everyone.

In the on-demand economy, algorithms are deployed to identify and match those in need of something with those who can fulfill their needs. The creators of these systems have mastered the discipline of interaction design and brought it to new heights… when it comes to consumer experience. Uber, Munchery, Postmates, and many apps are exquisitely designed, sometimes even…

Marina Gorbis

Executive Director, Institute for the Future; author, Nature of the Future. www.iftf.org

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