We create myths to make sense of the deep structure of the world.

Foresight scenarios are myths to explain the deep structure of the coming world emerging from the present. We evoke this mythology every time we use the incantation that begins so many written scenarios:
This is a world in which...






Interviews and Talks

Longevity & the Future of Fun with Jamais Cascio from Adam A. Ford on Vimeo.

Jamais Cascio - An Optimists Guide to the Next 10 Years from Adam A. Ford on Vimeo.

Closing Keynote for World Bank Understanding Risk 2016 conference (warning, low audio quality)

TED talk, 2007

TEDx Marin talk, 2013

All YouTube Videos

All Vimeo Videos

My Name is Jamais Cascio, and I'm a Futurologist interview for pinITALY
(video)          July 2014

The Problems with Prediction interview with RJ Eskow.
(audio)          April 2014

Everything Will Be Alright* interview for documentary series.
(video)          February 2014

Crime and Punishment discussion at Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored
(video)          April 2013

Bots, Bacteria, and Carbon talk at the University of Minnesota
(video)          March 2013

Visions of a Sustainable Future interview
(text)          March 2013
Talking about apocalypse gets dull...all apocalypses are the same, but all successful scenarios are different in their own way.

The Future and You! interview
(video)          December 2012

Bad Futurism talk in San Francisco
(video)          December 2012

Inc. magazine interview
(text)          December 2012
Any real breakthrough in AI is going to come from gaming.

Singularity 1 on 1 interview
(video)          November 2012

Momentum Interview
(text)          September 2012
One hope for the future: That we get it right.

Doomsday talk in San Francisco
(video)          June 2012

Polluting the Data Stream talk in San Francisco
(video)          April 2012

Peak Humanity talk at BIL2012 in Long Beach
(video)          February 2012

Acceler8or Interview
(text)          January 2012
Our tools don't make us who we are. We make tools because of who we are.

Hacking the Earth talk in London
(video)          November 2011

Cosmoetica Interview
(text)          May 2011
The fears over eugenics come from fears over the abuse of power. And we have seen, time and again, century after century, that such fears are well-placed.

Future of Facebook project interviews
(video)          April 2011

Geoengineering and the Future interview for Hearsay Culture
(audio)          March 2011

Los Angeles and the Green Future interview for VPRO Backlight
(video)          November 2010

Surviving the Future excerpts on CBC
(video)          October 2010

Future of Media interview for BNN
(video)          September 2010

Hacking the Earth Without Voiding the Warranty talk at NEXT 2010
(video)          September 2010

Map of the Future 2010 at Futuro e Sostanabilita 2010 (Part 2, Part 3)
(video)          July 2010

We++ talk at Guardian Activate 2010
(video)          July 2010

Wired for Anticipation talk at Lift 10
(video)          May 2010

Soylent Twitter talk at Social Business Edge 2010
(video)          April 2010

Hacking the Earth without Voiding the Warranty talk at State of Green Business Forum 2010
(video)          February 2010

Manipulating the Climate interview on "Living on Earth" (public radio)
(audio)          January 2010

Bloggingheads.TV interview
(video)          January 2010

Homesteading the Uncanny Valley talk at the Biopolitics of Popular Culture conference
(audio)          December 2009

Sixth Sense interview for NPR On the Media
(audio)          November 2009

If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want to be Part of Your Singularity talk for New York Future Salon
(video)          October 2009

Future of Money interview for /Message
(video)          October 2009

Cognitive Drugs interview for "Q" on CBC radio
(audio)          September 2009

How the World Could (Almost) End interview for Slate
(video)          July 2009

Geoengineering interview for Kathleen Dunn Show, Wisconsin Public Radio
(audio)          July 2009

Augmented Reality interview at Tactical Transparency podcast
(audio)          July 2009

ReMaking Tomorrow talk at Amplify09
(video)          June 2009

Mobile Intelligence talk for Mobile Monday
(video)          June 2009

Amplify09 Pre-Event Interview for Amplify09 Podcast
(audio)          May 2009

How to Prepare for the Unexpected Interview for New Hampshire Public Radio
(audio)          April 2009

Cascio's Laws of Robotics presentation for Bay Area AI Meet-Up
(video)          March 2009

How We Relate to Robots Interview for CBC "Spark"
(audio)          March 2009

Looking Forward Interview for National Public Radio
(audio)          March 2009

Future: To Go talk for Art Center Summit
(video)          February 2009

Brains, Bots, Bodies, and Bugs Closing Keynote at Singularity Summit Emerging Technologies Workshop (video)          November 2008

Building Civilizational Resilience Talk at Global Catastrophic Risks conference
(video)          November 2008

Future of Education Talk at Moodle Moot
(video)          June 2008

G-Think Interview
(text)          May 2008
"In the best scenario, the next ten years for green is the story of its disappearance."

A Greener Tomorrow talk at Bay Area Futures Salon
(video)          April 2008

Geoengineering Offensive and Defensive interview, Changesurfer Radio
(audio)          March 2008

Wired interview
(text)           March 2008
"The road to hell is paved with short-term distractions. "

The Future Is Now interview, "Ryan is Hungry"
(video)          March 2008

G'Day World interview
(audio)          March 2008

UK Education Drivers commentary
(video)          February 2008

Futurism and its Discontents presentation at UC Berkeley School of Information
(audio)          February 2008

Opportunity Green talk at Opportunity Green conference
(video)          January 2008

Metaverse: Your Life, Live and in 3D talk
(video)          December 2007

Singularity Summit Talk
(audio)          September 2007

Political Relationships and Technological Futures interview
(video)          September 2007

NPR interview
(audio)          September 2007
"Science Fiction is a really nice way of uncovering the tacit desires for tomorrow...."

Spark Radio, CBC interview
(audio)          August 2007
Spark Radio, part 2 CBC interview
(audio)          August 2007

True Mutations Live! roundtable Part 1
(audio)          July 2007
True Mutations Live! roundtable Part 2
(audio)          July 2007

G'Day World interview
(audio)          June 2007

NeoFiles interview
(audio)          June 2007

Take-Away Festival talk
(video)          May 2007

NeoFiles interview
(audio)          May 2007

Changesurfer Radio interview
(audio)          April 2007

NeoFiles interview
(audio)          July 2006

FutureGrinder: Participatory Panopticon interview
(audio)          March 2006

TED 2006 talk
(video)          February 2006

Commonwealth Club roundtable on blogging
(audio)          February 2006

Personal Memory Assistants Accelerating Change 2005 talk
(audio)          October 2005

Participatory Panopticon MeshForum 2005 talk
(audio)          May 2005

Jamais Cascio

Headshot
Photo by Jamais Cascio
Sarajevo March 2016

Essays and Observations
2006 to the Present

A New Look

You may have noticed that Open the Future has taken on a somewhat different design. You may also have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately. These are not unrelated.

I've been doing quite a bit of public speaking, all over the world -- from Sarajevo to Venice to Shenzhen in the last year alone, along with multiple locations here in the U.S. -- and a good amount of work with the Institute for the Future. I've also been doing occasional commentary pieces for New Scientist magazine.

So I've been active, just not active here. But since this is still the first place people go to learn more about me, it's not a good thing for it to appear to be abandoned. I needed OtF to do a better job of presenting me. Working on this redesign has rekindled a desire to do some blogging again, so it won't be completely static, but it will remain more of a highlight reel than an ongoing conversation. For those of you who will miss that, I'm sorry. I'll still be around, though -- I'm not going away, just doing a course-correction.

Time to get to work.

A World in Which

road sign

(This is the full text of a talk I gave at the Institute for the Future on 21 October 2015, as part of the "New Body Language" workshop on wearable/"body area network" technologies for the Technology Horizons program.)

Why do we think about the future?

This may seem an odd setting in which to ask this question. We're all here tonight because we're interested in big changes that seem to be thundering ahead in technology, in politics, in the human experience. But there has to be more than "interest" An organization like the Institute for the Future wouldn't be around for nearly a half-century if it was really just the Institute for Idle Curiosity About Tomorrow.

No. We think about the future because we believe two fundamental things: 1), that the future matters; and 2), that we still have a say in the future we get. The shape of tomorrow arises from the choices we make today. Or, to twist that around, we can make better decisions now if we consider the different ways in which those decisions could play out. The scenarios I will present tonight are examples of one tool we can use to undertake that consideration of consequences. Scenarios are stories that offer us a lens through which we might see our lives in a new world.

We're not accustomed to thinking about longer-term futures. We evolved to reach quick, reasonably accurate conclusions about near-term risks and outcomes -- is there a saber-toothed tiger in that cave? Will that plant poison me? There's even some evidence that the part of the brain that lights up when we think about the future is the same part active in ballistics, that is, hitting a moving target with something. So when Wayne Gretzky talked about skating to where the puck will be, he was actually offering up a bit of futurist wisdom.

One important rule for thinking about the future is remembering that what we may imagine as a massively disruptive, distant horizon is an everyday, boring present for those who live there. They aren't entirely different people in an alien environment, they're us, a generation from now. They've gone through -- we've gone through -- all of the upheaval and have adapted. Their lives then may not be the same as our lives now, but they are the descendants of our lives.

It's because of this clarity of connection that I believe it to be important to think about the future in generational terms, not just as a count of years. If, as LP Hartley claims, "the past is a foreign country," so too is the future -- but it's a foreign country that we'll never quite get to. Our vision of the future is a destination, but our lived experience of it is as a journey. We walk an unbroken pathway from today to tomorrow.

Continue reading "A World in Which" »

Gun Control's MP3 Moment

Screen Shot 2015 10 05 at 4 40 49 PM

Reading the continued, ongoing arguments about gun regulations ("reasonable" or otherwise) is frustrating. Not only for the usual reasons (absolutist positions, inability to recognize multi-causal phenomena, relentless hostility towards different opinions, etc.), but because of how incredibly irrelevant it is becoming. 3D-printable firearms are already here, and becoming increasingly reliable. Every gun control law in the world is obsolete.

With a 3D printer costing a thousand dollars or less, it's possible to produce a usable firearm. The first generation of these printed guns had a tendency to blow up when used, but the newer models can work just fine. Single-shot, magazine-fed, automatic or semi-automatic, there's now a variety of weapon designs available, ready to be downloaded and printed out.

Controlling this won't ever be easy, and is currently impossible. The design files are digital and easily spread around the Internet. 3D printers are general purpose systems, meaning that they can ostensibly be instructed to print out anything possible (given their size and material resource limits). Printers may be programmed to recognize a specific 3D gun file, but aren't smart enough to identify any random file that will produce a weapon. Open sourced 3D printer designs would make it possible to avoid the use of devices programmed with ORM ("object rights management") restrictions. You're not going to arm a militia with one of these, at least not quickly, but it wouldn't be hard to print out a small arsenal for person enjoyment.

Again, this is stuff that's happening now. It's not easy, quick, or cheap at the moment, but it's heading that direction. I'd be surprised if we didn't see someone killed with a 3D printed weapon by the end of the decade. Continuing to fight over gun control laws is painfully close to the music industry continuing to demand "home taping" restrictions and taxes on cassette tapes, even as MP3 files proliferated.

One final caveat: A 3D-printable firearm still needs ammunition, and bullets will be hard to 3D print for awhile yet. It may be another decade or more before it's possible to easily print bullets. If we really want to continue the debate and hostility, we may have a few years left.

Links:

  • http://www.wired.com/2014/05/3d-printed-guns/
  • http://3dprint.com/89919/shuty-hybrid-3d-printed-pistol/
  • http://gizmodo.com/3d-printed-guns-are-only-getting-better-and-scarier-1677747439
  • https://defdist.org

  • ARCHIVES