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Superstruct: Play the Game, Invent the Future

This fall, the Institute for the Future invites you to play Superstruct, the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game. It’s not just about envisioning the future—it’s about inventing the future. Everyone is welcome to join the game. Watch for the opening volley of threats and survival stories, September 2008.


SEPTEMBER 22, 2019

Humans have 23 years to go

Global Extinction Awareness System starts the countdown for Homo sapiens.

PALO ALTO, CA — Based on the results of a year-long supercomputer simulation, the Global Extinction Awareness System (GEAS) has reset the "survival horizon" for Homo sapiens - the human race - from "indefinite" to 23 years.

“The survival horizon identifies the point in time after which a threatened population is expected to experience a catastrophic collapse,” GEAS president Audrey Chen said. “It is the point from which it a species is unlikely to recover. By identifying a survival horizon of 2042, GEAS has given human civilization a definite deadline for making substantive changes to planet and practices.”

According to Chen, the latest GEAS simulation harnessed over 70 petabytes of environmental, economic, and demographic data, and was cross-validated by ten different probabilistic models. The GEAS models revealed a potentially terminal combination of five so-called “super-threats”, which represent a collision of environmental, economic, and social risks. “Each super-threat on its own poses a serious challenge to the world's adaptive capacity,” said GEAS research director Hernandez Garcia. “Acting together, the five super-threats may irreversibly overwhelm our species’ ability to survive.”Garcia said, “Previous GEAS simulations with significantly less data and cross-validation correctly forecasted the most surprising species collapses of the past decade: Sciurus carolinenis and Sciurus vulgaris, for example, and the Anatidae chen. So we have very good reason to believe that these simulation results, while shocking, do accurately represent the rapidly growing threats to the viability of the human species.”

GEAS notified the United Nations prior to making a public announcement. The spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Vaira Vike-Freiberga released the following statement: "We are grateful for GEAS' work, and we treat their latest forecast with seriousness and profound gravity."

GEAS urges concerned citizens, families, corporations, institutions, and governments to talk to each other and begin making plans to deal with the super-threats.


This is a game of survival, and we need you to survive.

Super-threats are massively disrupting global society as we know it. There’s an entire generation of homeless people worldwide, as the number of climate refugees tops 250 million. Entrepreneurial chaos and “the axis of biofuel” wreak havoc in the alternative fuel industry. Carbon quotas plummet as food shortages mount. The existing structures of human civilization—from families and language to corporate society and technological infrastructures—just aren’t enough. We need a new set of superstructures to rise above, to take humans to the next stage.

You can help. Tell us your story. Strategize out loud. Superstruct now.

It's your legacy to the human race.

Want to learn more about the game? Read the Superstruct FAQ.

Superstruct Now

Get a head start on the game. It’s the summer of 2019. Imagine you’re already there, and tell us a little bit about your future self. Visit the Superstruct announcement at IFTF and tell us in email: Where are you having dinner tonight?


Jamais, we might be outnumbered.

There are more comments posted to a news story about why women go to the bathroom together than are here. I do not mean this in an insulting way, just in a way to show a huge hurdle to overcome. People seem to know and care more about the size and shape of Oprah's bunion than they do the size and shape of the world economy...But I'll keep fighting and I know you will too.

Everyone is welcome? That's a new twist.

Maybe you're outnumbered because ordinarily, you are a rather exclusive bunch.

You'd like to think you're working for the survival and betterment of the species and yet you rarely engage the general public, or even concerned citizens seeking to become informed citizens. You tend to stay in your own circles.

With that in mind, don't be so surprised when the public doesn't pay attention to you and inquisitive minds walk away.

John, by "you are a rather exclusive bunch" do you mean:

* Futurists, in general?
* The Institute for the Future specifically?
* Me and my band of epistopunks?

I can reply (and/or apologize) appropriately when I better understand your argument.

Sorry, I should have been more clear.

I would say futurists in general. Most notably futurists in the blogosphere.

I would give you personally a little bit more credit for outreach, but I still think as a group, futurists tend to be a bit too insular for their own good.

There is an attitude amongst futurists evidenced in the first comment on this post, and this is not anomalous and I'm not trying to single that person out-- You can only be outnumbered if there is an "Us vs. Them" stance. The human race cannot outnumber itself. This sort of attitude it is endemic in the language of most futurists... that I've encountered, anyway.

I'm not trying to slam you, I'm just trying to point out what I feel is a flaw in the system.

Minor case in point, as a neophyte to the study of the future, this is the first response I've ever received on a comment I've made on a futurist or transhumanist weblog. I've never made a critical or cynical remark before, I have always been inquisitive and open. I was about to give up completely. It's not good when concerned citizens are treated with seemingly cold indifference. The concerned, seeking to be informed citizens are the ones you need to address.

I'm not the only one seeing this. I have had long email conversations with people who feel the same.

Also, the general public really has no idea what you are up to. Many don't and won't care, but many are reachable.

How you might accomplish this, I'm not sure. Reach the kids, maybe? A little less preaching to the choir and a little bit more engagement with the citizenry would certainly help.

The message is not getting out there and I think it should. You could find a way to close the gap, somehow. Without the help of a considerable portion of the human race, how can you help it to survive?

Thank you for elucidating, John.

Without trying to speak for Michael in the first comment, I can say that the "us vs them" aspect -- and the feeling of being outnumbered -- is as much a characteristic of the online environmental movement as it is of futurism. It's not meant as a measure of exclusivity, mind you, but as a reflection of how hard it is to find people who embrace a particular way of thinking. But I take your point: we have a serious need for better ways of communicating our ideas to the broader public.

As for futurists in particular, I suspect that some of the insularity comes from a sensitivity over the validity of the work. It's not hard to find material ridiculing futurists or futurism; more to the point, it's not hard to find material from people calling themselves "futurists" that can and should be easily ridiculed. Some of the avoidance of public engagement, then, comes from being tired of being asked "where's my jet pack?!?"

I'm not sure why you haven't been successful at direct engagement on other futurist blogs; one possibility is that, like me, the other writers tend to use the blogs as a way of working out ideas in text, rather than as a way of provoking conversation.

John M, being excluded hasn't been my experience.

Which futurist sites/forums have you checked?

Thanks, Jamais, for the thoughtful response.

I never considered the 'ridicule' factor. That is indeed something that I overlooked. However, there are misconceptions toward every field of study or interest. Futurists will have to suffer through theirs.

As far as my own experience with futurist blogs, it's really only a indicator of a larger issue. The appearance of indifference to those outside of futurist circles can only alienate potential allies.

Does this really matter? I think so. Many more people are now acutely concerned with the future. They'll almost certainly forgo flying cars and jetpacks in favor of finding ways to improve our lot and save our collective ass.

Futurists have an important role in the midst of these challenges. If it was the whiz-bang and gee-whiz future of our grandfathers, one could afford to be more aloof and detached. Our present and emerging global situation warrants more engagement. You can see it coming. Most of the rest of us can't.


I do not feel excluded. I have way too much hanging over me to worry about that. I just took issue with "Everyone is welcome" and used my own personal experience as an indicator, a minor one at that. There are others.

I have commented on close to a dozen futurist and transhumanist blogs, if you would like a list, I could dig it up. I actually save my comments. Never before today has anyone so much as said "Thanks for reading". I didn't lose any sleep over it, but I did stop commenting. I don't expect exhaustive attention, but if you get dead air repeatedly, you start wondering if you're on the right channel.

I really enjoyed the fake press release. I've been thinking lately that we could really use a "Global Extinction Awareness System" in our world. Better yet, an international Human Extinction Prevention Agency that could take active steps to overcome present and future threats to our survival. I'm excited about Superstruct and hope many people with varying exposure to futures thinking get involved.


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