... are needed to navigate a fast-changing world.
As the world grapples with present challenges and future uncertainties, strategic foresight and futures thinking is becoming more critical than ever. In October 2022, the Dubai Future Forum hosted the world's largest gathering of futurists, bringing together 400 experts, scientists, and innovators to explore, deconstruct, and reimagine the world as we know it.
From space migration to existential risks and threats and digital realities, the Forum covered a wide range of topics. It explored the potential direct and indirect impacts of technological advancements on society, economy, governments, nature, leadership, industry, and the planet.
Foresight is not about predicting the future with a crystal ball but rather a transdisciplinary and meta-approach to studying possible, probable, and preferable futures. It is a rational, creative, reflective, and contemplative process that engages citizens to question their ways of anticipating the future, creating contingencies, alternatives, and strategies to innovate and transform today. As a process, it invites us to recognize that our worldviews and contexts also create value. The goal of foresight is to make sense of thinking and meaning in questioning and to disturb the way we anticipate the future. The importance and stories that we create and share with others, personally or collectively, shape the future.
The field of foresight is constantly evolving, and emerging technologies are set to transform it further. In this context, the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) plays a critical role in advancing the field of foresight by fostering a dynamic, global, diverse, and collaborative community of professional futurists. In addition, the APF is working towards integrating heterogeneous and various perspectives that include cross-cultural approaches, tools, methods, and narratives to studying and practicing foresight and opening up new possibilities for making sense of the future.
Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) could amplify this as it can unlock new opportunities and insights to shape not just the future of foresight but the practice of professional foresight.
The APF recently partnered with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) in a collaboration to boost regional and global foresight on several fronts. This includes knowledge sharing and expertise between the APF and the DFF to address the region's unique challenges and amplify international foresight research and conversation opportunities.
This collaboration is envisioned to foster further cooperation and sharing of knowledge, resources, and expertise between the APF and the DFF. APF members will be able to participate in Dubai Future Foundation events and initiatives and, through research collaboration, provide opportunities to exchange insights that will benefit both organizations to gain a deeper and broader understanding of the implications of emerging technologies worldwide.
Moreover, the APF, The Millennium Project, The World Futures Studies Federation, and the Public Sector Foresight Network allied with the DFF to establish the Global Future Society. The intent of this landmark partnership is to pave the way for a more global and much broader conversation around futures and foresight. The signing took place at the Museum of the Future in the presence of the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Managing Director of the Dubai Future Foundation, His Excellency Muhammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, the UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications Omar Sultan Al Olama and CEO of the DFF Khalfan Belhoul.
As part of the Dubai Futures Forum, the Association of Professional Futurists held a workshop titled "What's Next for Foresight?" The workshop was co-facilitated by experts in the field and aimed to explore the futures of the futurist and professional foresight practice in a post-normal, climate-changed, and radically transformed world.
During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to share their imaginings of alternative and transformed foresight practices, contributing to the collective conversation about the future of the field. The workshop proved to be a valuable and engaging experience for all involved, and its insights and outcomes will undoubtedly inform and shape the future of foresight practice. We will share the report from the workshop with members of the APF and the DFF this year. In addition, the APF wilorganize a follow-up conversation at the APF 20th Anniversary Gathering in Dubai in April.
The insights from Dubai highlighted the need for long-term strategic thinking, intensive collaboration, and deep foresight to better navigate a fast-changing and evolving world. As a leading professional futurists association, the APF should create more opportunities that enable practitioners worldwide to advance excellence in the foresight profession and demonstrate its value to the world. Like the Dubai Future Forum, the APF can expand the reach of its projects and impact more people and practitioners globally. Advancing the need to professionalize the fields is far more imperative now, given that 400,000 profiles on Linkedin consider themselves or have included futurists as one of their skill sets.
The impacts of ongoing transformations and advancements in human society, culture, and technology and the increasing integration of these developments in our daily lives across organizations and communities and considering the potentially known and unknown ethical implications of these demands that the APF must innovate and introduce of new ways of using and professionalizing foresight.
One of the many compelling conversations at the Forum was the need for us to innovate how we anticipate and mitigate the impacts of existential risks and threats better. The Forum also delved into how scenarios can be more beneficial for policy and decision-making. As we design for alternative and transformative future worlds, we must consider the context of what it means to be human in a future where it is no longer about us but others as well, i.e., nature, digital beings, biological worlds, organisms, space, and more.
The impact of ongoing shifts and currents on how humans reperceive and repurpose themselves in light of emerging developments and integration of digital technologies in our body, mind, and consciousness demands that we participate in shaping the narratives of the future beyond technology. The Forum was organized to facilitate that conversation and power a human-nature-societal-centered shift in foresight.
Modafar Akhoirshieda is founder of EMKAN Futures, based in Dubai, UAE. He is host of the EMKAN Podcast and is a foresight and innovation management advisor who works towards foresight localization in the MENA region. To connect with Akhoirshieda, visit his website at www.emkanfutures.com.
Shermon O. Cruz is the Chair of the Association of Professional Futurists, Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Foresight, Chair of The Millennium Project Philippines Node, and UNESCO Candidate Chair for Anticipatory Governance and Regenerative Cities, Northwestern University, Philippines.