TheNextWeb Conference has already announced a pretty impressive line-up of speakers, which include 4-hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss, Wolfram|Alpha’s & Mathematica creator Stephen Wolfram, Prince William-Alexander of Orange (the Prince of The Netherlands), Eventbrite founders Kevin & Julie Hartz – just to name a few. Today the conference has announced one more addition to the line-up: Institute for the Future founder Marina Gorbis, who speaks often about future organizational, technology, and social issues.
I sat down for a chat with Marina about what conference attendees can look forward to in her talk at the event, which will be going on April 24th-April 26th in Amsterdam:
What is the Institute for the Future, and what your role in the organization?
I am the Executive Director of the Institute for the Future, an independent, non-profit research organization with a 45-year track record of helping all kinds of organizations think systematically about the future in order to make better decisions today. IFTF has pioneered tools and methods for building foresight ever since its founding days using cross-impact analysis and scenario tools. Today, IFTF is methodologically agnostic, with a large toolkit of foresight methodologies, frameworks, processes, and platforms to tap the best insights of groups to imagine—and create—the futures they want for their organizations, their communities, and the world.
How does the Institute see the European ecosystem?
Any period of crisis is an opportunity for innovation–in governance, economics, and work environments. Over the next decade, home-grown technological and social innovations will blend tradition and transformation to create a distinctive European take on Silicon Valley style. Café production will blend a culture of repair and recycling with high-tech maker values and social connectedness, while bold experiments with biotechnology will remake ancient cities and even the human body—a mix only possible in Europe. IFTF uses signals–events, discoveries, and usage patterns that point to larger future transformations, like those emerging from Europe–to create global scans. These scans make up our annual Ten Year Forecast, a publication that anticipates discontinuities and emerging dilemmas affecting business, government, and nonprofit organizations.
What can conference attendees expect to get out of your talk at TNW Conference?
You will hear a story about how we have long relied on large corporations, big governments and other centralized organizations that have dominated the way we work, the way we are educated, the way we get our food, health care, etc.—and how they are being disrupted all around us. We are moving away from the dominance of these institutions toward a whole new world (and new economy) based on social ties, social connections and new technologies that are creating new systems of value.
I will introduce real-world examples from my new book, The Nature of the Future (Simon and Schuster, April 9), of “amplified individuals”–people empowered by technology who really are pioneering this transformation across many domains. As part of encouraging people to become amplified individuals, I will offer practical advice for navigating and effectively participating in this world, including the new kinds of skills individuals will need, based on research about networks and new network roles. These roles include experts, who can trigger content, brokers, who can connect ideas, IT folks, who understand new social technologies and platforms, and many others.
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