This paper seeks to be a thought experiment. If the field of futures were invented today, it asks, what would it look like? What would be its intellectual foundations? Who would it serve and influence? And how would its ideas and insights be put into practice?
It reviews the literatures on experimental psychology and neuroscience to identify biases that affect people's ability to think about and act upon the future, studies of expertise that map the limits of professional judgment, and recent work on the nature of critical challenges of the twenty‐first century.
It argues that futurists could develop social software tools, prediction markets, and other technologies to improve the individual and collective accuracy and impact of work. Choice architectures and nudges to lengthen “the shadow of the future” of everyday choices made by ordinary people could also be used.
The paper argues for new directions in the practice of futures, to make the field better‐suited to deal with the challenges confronting an increasingly complex, chaotic, and contingent world.
The development of tools to augment professional activity, and adoption of choice architectures and nudges as media for communicating about the future, could improve futures work and its impact, but lay the foundation for other methodological innovations.
The paper contributes to the ongoing discussion about where futures should go.
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