Today I attended a presentation by Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist from NASA, who was fascinating, but I was out of my depth. He is clearly a brilliant man who has an extremely good grasp of technology. Much of his thinking will feed into ‘7×7’ in August and the scenario work.

After morning tea I heard from Mike Treder, who is Executive Director for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. He described and explored the implications of nanotechnology in the future, and suggested two links: Eight Scenarios and a neat movie that explains what this technology could look like in the future- both are worth a quick look.

At lunch we had Maddy Dychtward who is executive vice-president and co-founder of Age Wave and author of Cycles: How We Will Live, Work, and Buy. The image above is one of her slides. Her thesis was an exploration of what future lives could look like when the life expectancy is more like 92 – which is expected in the next 20-30 years.

The real treat though was listening to Joseph F Coates. Last year he wrote a book titled The Bill of Rights for 21st Century America. I am hoping to interview him tomorrow with a view to putting his responses on the blog in late August (when I return and complete the editing). So more about that tomorrow.

In the late afternoon session I attended Terry Grim’s (of Social Technologies) presentation on assessing foresight capability. Terry, together with Scott Reif, presented a methodology for assessing and improving the scanning abilities of organisations. I was interested both in terms of Sustainable Future and from a country perspective, in my case – New Zealand. This was very valuable and gave me a good tool for thinking about the importance of scanning process.

I then got a quick drink with Bonnie, an African American women who was interested in the history of Maori in New Zealand; an interest shared by a number of people I have met so far.  Then onto a presentation by Tom Abeles (President of Sagacity, and clearly an expert).  His discussion, titled ‘Challenging Education’s Future’, raised the issue of the significant changes education systems will undergo with the reduction in concentration spans and the collapsing of the educational infrastructure as we know it… but more on that later. I also learnt about ‘avatars’ (the graphical representation or virtual identity of a computer user). One man was saying his online character has hair (he was bald).Tom recommended two books: Synthetic Worlds and The Coming of Age in Second Life.

Believe it or not, there was then one further talk by Jerry Allan (president of Criteria Architects) – which was on ‘Five Great Ideas the World Needs and Five Great Challenges the World Needs to Address’. He had thought through a number of issues and put forward some solutions for improving the world. His blog with a similar speech is available here.

It was a long but excellent day.

Text and photo by Wendy McGuinness