Bill’s New Book

TechCast is pleased to announce the imminent publication of Prof. Halal’s latest book — Beyond Knowledge. Below is the Table of Contents, the book cover, and Chapter One. The book is available here at Amazon

Bill will gladly mail a signed copy of the book to anyone posting a favorable review on Amazon.

Here are a few comments from readers thus far:
  • “I think you are right on. People filter the facts based on their beliefs and opinions. Truth doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all subjective. We are acting like adolescents.  Can’t wait to read the whole thing. I want to order my copy early.” 

  • “Professor Halal’s book about a new paradigm of consciousness is an important work that will have implications for all areas of human endeavor. “

  • “If you are looking for enlightenment, BUY THIS BOOK. Beyond Knowledge provides a brilliant approach for understanding and coping with a rapidly changing world.  A novel, creative antidote to all that troubles humanity. “

  • “Prof. Halal’s vision is intriguing and thought-provoking. I’m anxiously awaiting the rest of the story from his upcoming book.”

  • Beyond Knowledge tackles our current, complex, confusing world in a way that allows readers to understand the future. People will be standing in line to review this book. I am looking forward to its publication, and I think it should attract a wide range of readers.”



About the Cover

The stunning cover symbolizes a modern goddess giving humans a vision of  “global consciousness” needed to develop a mature world. The goddess is female to recognize that surviving today’s massive threats requires the feminine qualities of wisdom, cooperation and love. She also represents the younger generation that must lead this transformation.

 
Beyond Knowledge:
How Technology Is Driving an Age of Consciousness

 

Contents

Forewords    Hazel Henderson, Michael Lee and Amy Fletcher

Preface          Blessings of Maturity                                                    
 
One                 Introduction:
                        The Noosphere is Here                                

 
Two                Promises and Perils of the Technology Revolution:
                        Eating Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge 
 
Three             Uniting Science and Spirit:
                        Technologies of  Consciousness
Four               Democratic Enterprise:    
                        Collaboration Between Business and Society
 
Five                A New Social Contract:   
                       Centrist Politics and Government Markets
 
Six                  Virtual Education:
                       The Uneasy Shift from Teaching to Learning
 
Seven            From Religion to Spirit:
                       The Ultimate Technique of  Consciousness
 
Eight             Managing Our Minds:
                       Living and Working in Spirit
Nine              Toward a Global Consciousness:
                       Start by Being  Responsible 
Ten                Evolution’s Climax:
                       The Flowering of Human Spirit 

  
 
 
Excerpt from Chapter One


Introduction: The Noosphere Is Here

The great Jesuit anthropologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has long fascinated us with his vision that the world would evolve into a “noosphere,” [1] a great web of consciousness enveloping the Earth. It seemed a lovely but distant ideal, yet the Digital Revolution has now made that dream a reality. As this book will show, the noosphere is here today, and it promises to transform our lives, our work, social institutions, the global order, and our very minds and souls.

Not too long ago, we relied on telephones and newspapers to communicate. We now use two billion personal computers (PCs), 14 billion cell phones and laptops, and two billion TVs. The information flows through 30 million Internet servers, 3,500 space satellites and almost one million miles of undersea cables. This planetary layer of digital connections knits eight billion people into a living overlay of thought – the noosphere.

Although the world has an abundance of communication, it is not a very happy place. Just as the Gutenberg printing press unleashed a flood of information that led to wars and the Protestant Reformation, today’s deluge of knowledge has brought a “post-factual” wave of nonsense, government gridlock, raging pandemics, the climate crisis and other global threats. We will see later that a “global consciousness” able to handle such threats is likely to emerge soon. But, in the meantime, the noosphere has highlighted the limits of knowledge.

 

Beyond Knowledge

You would think we should have been enlightened by the past two decades of the Knowledge Age, so why do people seem badly misinformed, emotional and unreasonable? Despite the great evidence readily available, many do not believe in evolution, climate change, vaccination and other established science.

Even national policies are often based on emotions, as when the English left the EU and Americans elected President Trump. Political “rebellions” like this are common, of course, with their own logic and patriotic goals. But today, the technology can amplify disinformation. Trump, for instance, gained power using digital media to deny inconvenient facts as “fake news” and “conspiracy theories.” An entire cottage industry has sprung up to warn of this “Assault on Intelligence,” “The Death of Truth,” “A World Without Facts” and “Truth Decay.” [2]

It does not help that large parts of the public embrace this confusion. TV and the Internet have produced what has been called “the dumbest generation” with a disregard for general reading in favor of news sources echoing their beliefs. [3] Here are some choice bits of willful ignorance:

  • The US ranks near the bottom of nations whose citizens believe in evolution, with less than 40 percent saying they accept the science. [4]
  • Two-thirds cannot name the three branches of government. [5]
  • As of early 2021, more than 70 percent of Republicans still believe the presidential election was stolen, after this was discredited by the courts and Republican officials themselves.

Extensive studies confirm that attitudes, beliefs and values are shaped by a variety of well-known biases, allegiance to political parties and other extraneous factors. [6]  Even hard-nosed business people admit that bias in decision-making is a major problem. [7] Demagogues use self-serving fantasies to blind people to reality and mobilize them into violence. [8] It seems that objectivity is a thin veneer shielding base impulses as well as noble motives.

Norman Lear, the famous American TV producer, said: “We just may be the most-informed, yet least self-aware people in history.” [9] 

This dilemma poses one of the great ironies of our time. The Digital Revolution has created a wealth of knowledge that is almost infinite. The smartphone alone has made the world’s store of information available at the touch of a finger. There is no shortage of knowledge, but the power of facts is badly limited. Knowledge cannot tell us what is worth doing, or what is right morally and what is wrong. Rational logic does not explain why people are altruistic or selfish, kind or cruel, enlightened or ignorant. Knowledge can never replace love, wisdom or a guiding vision.

This rule of unreason pervades life, and it is rampant in politics. The US government, for instance, has been locked in stalemate for decades, though Congress has more knowledge than it can handle. Emotional issues like abortion, gun control and immigration supported by strong majorities have been studied to death. Still, gridlock persists because of conflicting values, reluctance to compromise, and hunger for power – issues that lie beyond knowledge. Senator Ben Sasse worried, “We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence.” [10]

This political stalemate is largely responsible for the poor US response to the coronavirus pandemic. China, Singapore, South Korea and other Asian nations weathered the storm reasonably well. But the US mismanaged it so badly that Americans fear structural weaknesses in government could inflict more damage from other crises. The pandemic brought these systemic flaws on vivid display for all to see. People are frightened and searching for solutions.

Many are ready to break from a past that no longer works. The World Economic Forum called for a “great reset” in all spheres of society. The result is a loss of faith in the reigning logic, or ideology, of money, power and self-interest. These values have their place, but they seem unable to address the crises of our time. Climate change is starting to bite, more pandemics are likely, inequality is growing, and there is a growing sense that the status quo is not sustainable. The conflict over these complex issues seems overwhelming because, once again, they are beyond knowledge. They hinge on stark differences in consciousness.

This existential threat has shattered confidence in what Francis Fukuyama proclaimed to be “The End of History” – the fall of communism and the triumph of capitalism and democracy. [11] A variety of voices suggest this crisis could trigger a “collapse of capitalism,” roughly like the “collapse of communism” in the 1990s. It also stems from the same fatal flaw – an inability to adapt to a changing world. Communism could not meet the complex demands of the Information Revolution, and now capitalism is failing to adapt to this confluence of global crises.

 

Next Step in Social Evolution

What is going on here? Why is the US, the most prosperous and best-educated nation in the world, so inept? How can great knowledge produce such misguided behavior?

These problems can be best understood as the passing of the Knowledge Age and the opening of an unusual frontier – consciousness itself. Knowledge remains crucial, of course. But today’s explosion of smartphones, social media and artificial intelligence (AI) has created a post-factual mess governed by raw emotions, distorted values and outmoded beliefs. An Age of Consciousness is starting now, though one may not like its current form. Whatever one thinks of former President Trump, almost all would concede that he is brilliant at creating an alternative reality. He is a master at shaping consciousness.

A “beyond knowledge test” helps clarify the role of consciousness. If some problem remains unresolved due to values, beliefs, self-interest or other subjective issues – climate, abortion, gun control, for example – the solution lies beyond knowledge. This simple test highlights how the disorders that plague our time are not rational problems to solve by reason. They involve all the messy mental baggage of normal people, so they must be addressed by altering consciousness. That is where the problems lie, and it is also where the solutions are to be found.

This is a bold claim, but that is roughly how the shift to a world of knowledge looked when the Information Revolution began a few decades ago. Back when computers filled rooms, I recall telling people that we were entering a world of personal computers, and the typical response was, “Why would anyone want a personal computer?”

Yet in 2000, PCs were everywhere, books on knowledge became rife and the majority of jobs involved managing knowledge.  I am equally confident that an Age of Consciousness is opening up today, and we simply do not yet understand this intriguing new frontier.

Beneath this tectonic shift in consciousness is the driving force of artificial intelligence, the most powerful agent of change today. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on … more profound than fire or electricity.” [12] The advance of AI is automating knowledge work, threatening to eliminate roughly half of all jobs and posing one of the most perplexing questions of our time: What lies beyond knowledge? As Chapter three will explain, everything beyond knowledge is consciousness. This historic shift in social evolution is illustrated by the graph below.

I have struggled with this problem for years, and the result is Figure 1 showing what I call the “Life Cycle of Evolution (LCE).” Similar graphs have been sketched in general terms, [13] but this is the first to plot the long-term evolutionary trend using real scales and real data. The logarithmic time scale is needed to encompass the billions of years at the start of life, as well as just decades today. Without a log scale, the shape of the LCE would not be recognizable; the trendline would run flat and make a sharp 90 degree turn straight up.

Figure 1

Above the fray, there is a direction to this accelerating evolutionary process, and the logical next step is consciousness. Roughly four million years were needed to found Agrarian Civilizations. Nine thousand years to invent Industrial Society. One hundred years for the Post-Industrial Era. Five decades to a Knowledge Age. And the past 20 years to an Age of Consciousness.

Today, the world is poised at the cusp of transformation from a society based on knowledge to one guided by consciousness. This extraordinary acceleration through previous stages reveals how the planet suddenly came alive in a flash of awareness. The entire rise of civilization occurred in an extremely tiny fraction of one percent in the LCE. Historian Arnold Toynbee foresaw it as the “etherealization of life.” [14] Teilhard de Chardin envisioned planetary consciousness to be the natural apex of evolution – the Omega Point. [15]

Consciousness has been around throughout history, of course, so what is really new? This transition can be understood through a similar evolutionary shift to the Knowledge Age. Information has also been used throughout civilization, of course. But the Knowledge Age began when digital technology matured about two decades ago into the most powerful force on Earth, occupying the bulk of the labor force, and our very minds.

In a similar way, shaping consciousness is now a powerful technology, although barely understood, and it is changing the world. Think of the explosion of opinion, disinformation and emotion blasting out of loudspeakers like Facebook and Twitter. Anybody can use social media to shape public opinion, for better or worse. Politicians around the globe struggle to infiltrate the information systems of their adversaries, and they casually dismiss criticism as fake news. One analyst framed the problem this way: “In the past, wars were conducted with weapons. Now it’s through social media.” [16] The great challenge now is, how to shape a workable global consciousness out of this morass of differences to support almost eight billion people coexisting on this single planet?

This historic transition also poses enormous threats that seem almost impossible. Climate change and the entire constellation of end-of-the-world challenges comprise what I call the “Global MegaCrisis,” or the “Crisis of Global Maturity.” My studies conducted with a colleague, Michael Marien, found that roughly 70 percent of the public thinks the present world trajectory will lead to disaster. Ask anyone off the street and you will probably get the same answer. People have deep fears over today’s failures in governance, and they attribute it to a lack of leadership, vision and cooperation.

The late Stephen Hawking worried about “widening inequality, climate change, food, decimation of species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. This is the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity, and our species must work together.” [17]

The Technology Revolution will add even greater threats. The next chapter forecasts how advances across the technology spectrum are providing vast benefits, but also the enormous problems of  “eating fruit from the biblical Tree of Knowledge.” Smart cars, for example, will pass on the faults of smartphones. “A car is like a cell phone, and that makes it vulnerable to attack,” said Jonathan Brossard, a security engineer. Many are horrified at the prospect of AI-controlled weapons turning on people. Now, ponder what could happen when billions of intelligent devices are wired into the Internet of Things?

The great S-curve formed by these eras is the universal symbol of the lifecycle. All living systems pass through this same process of birth (start of the S-curve), growth (upward phase), and maturity (leveling off) – a culture of bacteria, a growing child or the life of a planet. From this systems view, the Global MegaCrisis is an infinitely larger version of the same crisis of maturity that transforms teenagers into adults. Anyone who has raised children knows that teens may be fully grown physically and “know everything.” But the typical teenager has not learned to control their impulses, struggles with inner doubts and can’t cope with a confusing world.

That is roughly the state of our world today. Industrialized nations are fully developed, awash in information and with enough armaments to destroy us all. Yet they lack the wisdom to address climate change, regulate economies safely, curb terrorism and solve other nagging problems. As I will show in the next chapter, many people think we are heading toward a disaster of catastrophic proportions, and they have little faith in their leaders.


Consciousness is not the same as “goodness,” as is often thought by New Age enthusiasts. Like knowledge, consciousness encompasses all in its domain – including hate, conflict and delusion.

At some point, the stress becomes so severe that most teens eventually find the courage to grow up and become responsible adults. In a roughly similar way, the MegaCrisis is humanity’s challenge to become a mature civilization. The world is being forced to grow up and to develop a sustainable global order – or perish. This passage to maturity is more than a historic challenge; it is also a historic opportunity. Like adolescence, surmounting this painful process can lead to a better future. How could we let this singular moment pass?

 

Triumph of Human Spirit

This evolutionary perspective helps us understand how a global consciousness is emerging today to resolve these threats and create a mature civilization. More than a theory, the chapters ahead will show how people are changing their lives, their work, social institutions and global mindset. I make a point of fleshing out these concepts with details, evidence, supporting examples and steps to consider. We will see how an Age of Consciousness is likely to develop into a tangible, productive and more meaningful way of life.

Consciousness is the inner terrain in which we live our lives, and it is changing rapidly to cope with the slightly crazed demands of high-tech life. People are embracing mindfulness, living with nature and using psychedelics to relieve stress, provide insight and improve health. I call these “technologies of consciousness” – methods that people use to guide their awareness, mood and understanding. The evidence shows that these techniques can instill the values of cooperation, understanding and compassion that are essential to a unified globe.

The main chapters outline how shifts in public consciousness are transforming the major organs of society – government, business, universities, religions and other institutions. In each case, I will show that a small avant-garde is quietly bringing a mature awareness to these varied facets of public life. Drawing on numerous examples, I show how business is turning democratic, government can be lean and responsive, education becoming student-centered, and religions moving from doctrine to a personal relationship with the spiritual world.

For instance, the Business Roundtable announcement that firms should serve all stakeholders is truly historic. The New York Times called it a “watershed moment … that raises questions about the very nature of capitalism.” Leading corporations like Johnson & Johnson, IKEA, Nucor Steel, Nortel, and Unilever collaborate with employees, customers, suppliers and governments to solve tough problems and create value for the company and stakeholders. Larry Fink, who runs the biggest investment firm in the world (Black Rock), directed the companies he owns to address social issues, even including climate costs in their operations.

These ideas may be reasonable, but many doubt such dramatic change is possible. In 2020, the “Black Lives Matter” movement began shifting attitudes around the world, illustrating that consciousness is changing even now. This push for racial justice is led by young people across the political and racial spectra, the cohort that favors global consciousness. It is reminiscent of the “Me Too” movement that ousted sexual predators, and the passing of gay marriage laws a few years ago. Big change arrives when the time has come.

The power of global consciousness provides the key to resolving the multiple crises of today. Each stage in social evolution has been propelled by revolutions – the Agrarian Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, Post-Industrial Revolution and, most recently, the Information Revolution. As my graph of the LCE lays out visually, we are now in the beginning throes of what I call a “Mental/Spiritual Revolution” to kick-start the Age of Consciousness. In short, it appears the world is heading toward some type of historic shift in consciousness, a collective epiphany, a new mindset, code of global ethics or a spiritual revolution.

Civilization survived the fall of Rome, the Dark Ages, World Wars I and II, and a cold war bristling with nuclear weapons, and it seems likely to survive the Global MegaCrisis.

Such heroic change may appear daunting, especially at a time when hostilities seem endless and environmental disaster looms ahead. That is often the case before upheavals. Nobody thought the Soviet Union would collapse until it actually did. The evidence outlined throughout the book supports this evolutionary trend.

The reason this claim seems optimistic, perhaps even foolhardy, is that we have no experience in global consciousness. Huddled in our small section of the universe, humans have little conception of planetary evolution, much less the transition to a unified world. Our understanding is roughly similar to that of a naïve person who first witnesses the agony of a human birth or a teen struggling to adulthood. Without previous experience, these painful transitions would seem awful, too hard to bear. Yet they are entirely normal and usually successful.

So too could our passage to global maturity develop into a fairly normal transition in a few years. The LCE graph shows that a Mental/Spiritual Revolution is likely to arrive about 2025 or so. I am as confident in this forecast as I was that the Knowledge Age would arrive about 2000. This historic shift to an unknown era requires a new conceptual framework to map the terrain, a vision to provide inspiration and principles that work – the elements of this book.

A mature global order will still bear the normal human failings, but it will make our current strife look as primitive as the brutal reign of kings in the feudal ages. This may sound too good to be true, yet these trends suggest we will see the beginnings of a unified planet over the next decade or so, and the triumph of human spirit, once again.

 

References

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper, 1955)
[2] Hayden, The Assault on Intelligence (New York: Penguin, 2018); Anne Applebaum, “A World Without Facts” (Washington Post, May 20, 2018); Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael Rich, Truth Decay (Santa Monica: The Rand Corporation, 2018)
[3] Mark Bauerian, The Dumbest Generation (New York: Penguin, 2008)
[4] Ker Than, “US Lags … Acceptance of Evolution” (Live Science, Aug 11, 2006)
[5] Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason (New York: Pantheon, 2008)
[6] Elizabeth Kolbert, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” (The New Yorker, Feb 27, 2017); Yuval Harari, “People Have Limited Knowledge. What’s the Remedy? Nobody Knows” (New York Times, Apr 18, 2017)
[7] Tobias Beer et al., “The Business Logic in Debiasing” (McKinsey, May 2017)
[8] Harari, “Why Fiction Trumps Truth” (The New York Times, May 24, 2019)
[9] “Norman Lear calls for leap of faith” (The New Leaders, May/June 1993)
[10] Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult (St. Martin’s, 2017)
[11] Ishaan Tharoor, “The Man Who Declared ‘The End of History’ Fears for Democracy’s Future” (Washington Post, Feb 9, 2017)
[12] World Economic Forum (Jan 24, 2018)
[13]  For instance, the field of “big history” has studied similar time scales. See ibha.wildapricot.org (June 2, 2017)
[14] Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History (Oxford Univ. Press, 1960)
[15] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper Perennial 1976)
[16]  “Quote of the Day” (New York Times, Sep 13, 2019)
[17] Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet” (The Guardian, Dec 1, 2016)

TechCast/Cognis Strategic Forum

The First

Strategic Forum –

Planning for Transformative Change

The pandemic and other threats like climate change pose an existential challenge to organizations everywhere, and they have made it clear that the present global order is not sustainable. The World Economic Forum called for  “A Great Reset” in all spheres of society. Leaders in business, government and other institutions need to plan for transformative change – NOW.

The TechCast Project draws on its leading research to bring authoritative studies on the crucial issues of today to a broader audience. See our work on  Global ConsciousnessThe Coming InternetRedesigning CapitalismForecasting the Presidential Election, and AI versus Humans.

Complimentary Admission 

Anyone with an interest in strategy, foresight, future studies and related fields is encouraged to attend. 

Conference Begins at 2000 UTC (coordinated universal time) and ends at 2130 UTC

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 
1 pm PDT (Los Angeles, San Francisco)

4 pm EDT (New York, Washington, DC)
9 pm daylight time (London)
10 pm daylight time (Paris)

Thursday, July 1, 2021
6 am standard time (Seoul, Tokyo)
7 am standard time (Sydney)

PROGRAM

Conference Host

Limor will open the conference by welcoming participants, introduce speakers and their topics and direct questions through the chat function to speakers.  She is a skilled facilitator and will ensure that the proceedings are productive and transparent.

Limor Shafman

Limor Shafman
Director, Strategy & Operations, LG NOVA Center
And a Frequent Speaker

 

At the LGC NOVA Center, Limor is part of a startup/scaleup challenge and incubation program for LG Electronics, activating on the company’s global innovation program. Prior to this, Limor co-founded TIA’s Smart Building Program.  With her consulting company, KeystoneTech Group, she worked with PropTech startups on market strategy and business development. She co-leads the NIST – Global City Teams Challenge Smart Buildings SuperCluster. As an international corporate attorney, Limor draws on her understanding of the digital environment from her work in the theme park, video game, mobile communications infrastructure, and other technology sectors. She has led technology-oriented organizations, serving as President of the World Future Society DC Chapter and Co-founder, Chair Emeritus of the IPv6 Forum Israel Chapter. Limor is also an international speaker and a moderator. She has been a show host for several online media outlets.

 

Global Transformation: 
Most Likely Scenario for 2030

Bill draws on his work at TechCast to provide forecasts of 50 emerging technologies, 30 social trends, and 25 wild cards.  Results are aggregated to provide a macro-forecast of the “Most Likely Scenario for 2030” —  Sustainability Arrives, Green Transportation, Infinite Knowledge and Intelligence, Mastery Over Life, Threats Across the Spectrum and Higher-Order Values.  We conclude with the theme of  Prof. Halal’s forthcoming book, Beyond Knowledge: Digital technology is now driving a shift to an “Age of Consciousness.”

William Halal
The TechCast Project

George Washington University

Bill is Professor Emeritus of Management, Technology and Innovation. He is founder and director of the TechCast Project and a thought leader in foresight, strategy, forecasting and related fields. For more, see www.BillHalal.com

 

State-of-the-Art in Strategy and Foresight: Constant Change from the Bottom Up And the Outside In

Jess and Bill summarize results of their recent survey of strategic foresight practices to outline how strategic foresight is changing to cope with the technology revolution. The study’s main conclusion is that organizations should develop “constant change from the bottom up and the outside in.”

Jess Garretson
CEO, The Cognis Group

As leader of this life sciences consultancy firm, Jess provides leadership for the company portfolio that includes IP research, consulting and strategic partnering services, Pharmalicensing.com and FutureinFocus.com–an online subscription services curating foresight reports on technology and innovation trends driving the next 10-20 years.  Many years of experience in both corporations and consulting provided a multi-faceted perspective for driving solutions most critical to brand and business development.

William Halal
The TechCast Project

George Washington University
(See bio above)

 

Keynote Speech:

The Time For Transformation Is Now

Hazel Henderson draws on a lifetime of work in future studies to suggest what families, organizations, nations, and all of us can do to actually create transformative change.  How do futurists and strategists get their attention? What strategic “processes” do we recommend? How can this Strategic Forum provide leadership?

Hazel Henderson
Futurist, Author, Speaker, Consultant
President, Ethical Markets

Hazel Henderson is a global futurist and her eleven books and current research continue to map the worldwide transition from the fossil-fueled Industrial Era to the renewable circular economies emerging in a knowledge-rich, cleaner, greener and wiser future. Ethical Markets Media Certified B. Corporation, which Hazel founded in 2004 after 20 years advising the Calvert Group of socially-responsible mutual funds, continues the work of reforming markets and metrics to guide investors toward our long-term survival on planet Earth. In the 1960s, with the help of a volunteer ad agency and enlightened media executives, Hazel organized Citizens for Clean Air to inform New Yorkers of the polluted air they were breathing. They showed the late Robert F. Kennedy, then running for his Senate seat, all the sources of this pollution and why they were campaigning to correct the GDP to subtract, not add, these pollution costs.  Kennedy’s speech on the GDP problem at the University of Kansas became a rallying cry for reform of this obsolete indicator, still too often quoted as a measure of national “progress“!  In 1975, Hazel joined Lester Brown on the founding board of the World Watch Institute, and again, she was forced to face up to this Global MegaCrisis at every board meeting, as the human effects on planetary ecosystems deteriorated. For more, see Hazel’s recent presentation at the Family Office Forum in Singapore, March 5th.  Hazel can be reached at hazel.henderson@ethicalmarkets.com

 

Following Executive Workshop

($195 Admission)

The Workshop begins 30 minutes after the Conference ends (2200 UTC).

This Executive Workshop follows the above Conference to assist leaders, planners and other professionals in drawing on the presentations to develop a more powerful strategic posture. In this workshop, you will review the presentations of the previous speakers and assess the impact on your current strategic posture. In a small working group of your peers, you will discuss needed adjustments to account for the anticipated changes. Each group will report their key findings to the entire group. You will come away with a comprehensive set of insights and actions that you can take back to your organization and bring your overall strategy into greater alignment with the transformative changes that lie ahead.

Art Murray
President/CEO, Applied Knowledge Sciences, Inc.
Assisted by Limor Shafman and Bill Halal

Dr. Art Murray is co-founder of Applied Knowledge Sciences, Inc. where he has served as CEO for over 27 years. Since 2005, he’s been the Director of the Enterprise of the Future Program at the International Institute for Knowledge and Innovation. He’s the author of “Deep Learning Manual: the knowledge explorer’s guide to self-discovery in education, work, and life,” and “Building the Enterprise of the Future: Co-creating and delivering extraordinary value in an eight-billion-mind world,” and KMWorld magazine’s popular column: “The Future of the Future.” He holds a B.S.E.E. degree from Lehigh University, and the M.E.A. and D.Sc. degrees from the George Washington University.

Small group breakout discussions and reporting.

Readings:

  • Updating Strategy for a High-Tech World: Constant Change from the Bottom Up and the Outside In
  • Through the MegaCrisis (Awarded “Outstanding pape of 2013” by Emerald Publishing) 
  • VALUING LOVE ECONOMIES: Revealed as Driving Positive Human Evolution!

 

Register Here for the June 30 Conference

Offer Donations to the June 30 Conference

Register Here for the June 30 Workshop


To clarify questions about the program or other issues, email Prof. Halal at Halal@GWU.edu

 


 

Second Conference of the Strategic Forum

July 28, 2021

 

Foresight Lessons From the Pandemic:
Implications for Strategy Formulation and Response

 
Ideally, foresight precedes strategy formulation, but in moments of crisis normal order must be abandoned and foresight and strategy inevitably unfold together in real-time.  We will offer a set of lessons learned from conducting a major Delphi-based scenario foresight project during the darkest days of the unfolding pandemic and reflect on the long-term implications for how foresight and strategy can more effectively blend in the face of deep uncertainty.

 
Jerome Glenn
CEO, The Millennium Project

Jerry is the co-founder of the Millennium Project with 67 Nodes around the world. He is also lead author of the State of the Future reports, co-editor of Futures Research Methodology 3.0, designed and manages the Global Futures Intelligence System. Glenn led The Millennium Project team that created the COVID-19 scenarios for the American Red Cross and lead-author for Scenario 1: America Endures, the baseline, surprise fee scenario.


Theodore Jay Gordon
Futurist and Management Consultant


Ted is a specialist in forecasting methodology, planning, and policy analysis. He is co-founder and Board member of The Millennium Project. Ted founded The Futures Group,  was one of the founders of The Institute for the Future and consulted for the RAND Corporation. He was also Chief Engineer of the McDonnell Douglas Saturn S-IV and S-IVB space vehicles and was in charge of the launch of space vehicles from Cape Canaveral. He is a frequent lecturer, author of many technical papers and several books dealing with space, the future, life extension, scientific and technological developments and issues, and recently, co-author of books on the prospects for terrorism and counterfactual methods. He is the author of the Macmillan encyclopedia article on the future of science and technology. He is on the editorial board of Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Mr. Gordon was a member of the Millennium Project team that created scenarios for the American Red Cross. Ted was responsible for the negative scenario that depicted a bleak but plausible future; this scenario contains many assumptions about the unknowns, but in the end seems endurable and plausible.

Paul Saffo
Forecaster

Paul is a Silicon Valley-based forecaster who studies technological change.  He teaches at Stanford where he is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Engineering and is Chair of Future Studies at Singularity University.  Paul is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. Paul holds degrees from Harvard College, Cambridge University, and Stanford University.

Readings:

  • Three Futures of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the US,  January 1, 2022.
     
Complimentary Admission 

Anyone with an interest in strategy, foresight, future studies and related fields is encouraged to attend. 

Conference Begins at 2000 UTC (coordinated universal time) and ends at 2130 UTC

Wednesday, July 28, 2021 
1 pm PDT (Los Angeles, San Francisco)

4 pm EDT (New York, Washington, DC)
9 pm daylight time (London)
10 pm daylight time (Paris)

Thursday, July 29, 2021
6 am standard time (Seoul, Tokyo)
7 am standard time (Sydney)

 

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To clarify questions about the program or other issues, email Prof. Halal at Halal@GWU.edu

 


 

Coming Speakers

 
The Emerging Global Consciousness

It is increasingly clear that a major shift in values, beliefs and ideology is needed to make sense of today’s turmoil and to grasp the outlines of the emerging global order. This session presents a vision of global consciousness developed by TechCast’s study to resolve the Global MegaCrisis.

William E. Halal
The TechCast Project
George
Washington University
(See bio above)

Story Thinking

A strategic organizational posture that balances collaboration with competitiveness requires a deeper understanding of common ground, and that understanding is found in stories. Beyond storytelling, story thinking provides the visualization of story structure as the holistic business, learning, and communication model. The foundational shared mental model of “process” which was adopted in the Second Industrial Revolution must expand into a shared mental model of “story” to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, given it is based on intelligence, not electricity. Carl Jung said, “You are IN a story, whether you know it or not.” Operationalizing this quotation is the goal of story thinking, and is the key to thriving within transformational change.

John Lewis
Coach, Speaker, Author, Story Thinking

Dr. John Lewis, Ed.D. is a consultant, coach, and is speaker on the topics of human capital and strategic change within the knowledge-driven enterprise. He is the author of Story Thinking, which is about the major organizational challenges related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and ways for visionary leaders to begin addressing them now by rethinking traditional views of change, learning, and leadership. He is also the author of The Explanation Age, which Kirkus Reviews described as “An iconoclast’s blueprint for a new era of innovation.” He is the current president of EBLI (Evidence-Based Learning Institute) and holds a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, with a dissertation focus on mental models and decision making.

 

Keys to Open Innovation

Many of the world’s most successful business models, companies, and products were born from the synthesis of necessity and collaboration. “Open Innovation” is not a new concept, but rather one that demands increasing attention and robust implementation in the rapidly accelerating technology innovation lifecycle. Despite the success stories, many organizations have not yet fully embraced the concept of leveraging external innovation, as internal stakeholders often mistakenly perceive threats and underestimate opportunities that may arise from partnerships. This discussion will explore the careful balance that must be achieved and maintained between legacy internal processes and the augmented capabilities of external resources.

Anthony Cascio
Director of Research & Engineering
The Cognis Group

Anthony Cascio leads the Cognis team responsible for intellectual property analytics & landscaping, technology scouting, and partnering search engagements. For over twelve years, Anthony has consulted with clients ranging from the Fortune 500 to startups in a broad array of high technology industries related to both the life and physical sciences. He provides unique insight alongside validation to help guide each client’s strategic direction and identify new technology-related business opportunities. Anthony studied electrical engineering at the University of South Florida while conducting research in electronic materials characterization and electrospray deposition of macromolecular structures.

 

Staying Safe in a Digital World

Each day the news is filled with stories about computer crime and hacking which affect our financial institutions, banks, small businesses, large corporations, hospitals, retail stores and threatens to steal even our own identity. Cybersecurity refers to the practice of defending computers, networks and data from malicious attacks. We will provide an overview of aspects of cybersecurity including viruses, phishing, social engineering, identity theft and personal privacy as well as threats to the Internet of Things and physical security and provide tips on how to protect yourself and your organization from these threats.

Steven Hausman
Futurist  and Speaker
 Former Administrator, National Institutes of Health

Which data, what data, what futures: cybersecurity from the cloud to the brain cloud

We live our existence in a space we see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. However, for the last 10 years, this is not just all the space our existence is lived. We spend an ever-growing part of our time in cyberspace, in a global domain within the information environment where our digital life carries on — but for which nature did not equip us for sense-making. In this talk we will explore the strategic structure of cyberspace and its implications, to then broaden our aperture looking at trends for both near future and deep futures.

Gabriele Rizzo
Visionary Futurist and Enthusiastic Innovator
Former Advisor to the Minister of Defense for Futures

Dr. Gabriele Rizzo, Ph.D., APF, holds a PhD in String Theory and Astrophysics. He is the NATO’s Member at Large (“world-class expert drawn from academia, industry or government from the Nations”) in Strategic Foresight and Futures Studies, and the former advisor to the Italian Minister of Defense on Futures. He is a member of the Strategy Board of the European Cyber Security Organization, a PPP worth $2B.  Dr. Rizzo’s works inform $1T (one trillion USD) worth of Defense planning, some were evaluated “important pillars of strategy and implementation of R&I” by the EU, and others shape industrial investments in Research, Development and Innovation for more than $20B in 2020.

 

 

 

Proudly Produced by:

The TechCast Project

The Cognis Group

 

Sponsored by:

 

 

Forecasting the Trump Presidency

This is a slightly updated version of our 2016 study forecasting the Trump Era.

The original study drew on the expertise of our global network of 150 international thought leaders. We realize that political issues are highly controversial, but the Trump presidency is one of the pivotal developments of our time, and we think it deserves objective research. This report includes a forecast of changes in Federal policies, a forecast of national performance, three alternative scenarios and comments from the respondents.

Based on all this data, here’s quick summary of what we forecast in 2016:

Growing Turbulence and Uncertainty  

A striking result is the wide variation in expert estimates. Some are at opposite ends of the scales. We think this reflects powerful drivers of change and widely differing actors are now emerging. This also tells us there is a strong need for sound strategy, especially focusing on planning for crises and contingencies.

Major Change Plus Wild Cards 

Our analysis suggests that most of these policies are moderately likely, while some are considered unlikely. The expected social impact is generally considered to be quite damaging. Signs of wild cards are seen in the prospects of an alliance with Russia and the impeachment of Mr. Trump; both are rated to have positive results.

Mediocre Performance 

Our thought leaders also estimated various indicators of US national performance. They expect only modest economic growth, with Trump’s approval ratings likely to remain about 40 percent.

US National Policy Changes 

We asked our experts to judge the likelihood that the federal government will deport illegal immigrants, impose tariffs or import taxes, curtail trade agreements, repeal the Affordable Care Act, muzzle the EPA, restrict Muslims, partner with Russia, reduce taxes on the wealthy, provoke a war, cancel the Iran nuclear accord, deregulate banks, and even impeach Mr. Trump. Here’s a quick summary of key themes that seem to be emerging from the data:

 

National Performance Forecasts

This table updates our 2016 forecasts by adding data for July 10, 2020. Note that most forecasts proved reasonably valid, except for the stock market gains.

 

  2016 Forecast 7/10/20 Actual
Average GDP Growth/Year 1.5 % ~ 2 % until virus
DJIA Index 21,000 26,000
Trump Approval Rating 39% ~ 40%
Increase in Debt $6.5 Trillion $5.4 Trillion +

 

Alternative Scenarios

Following are the forecasts made in 2016. We are  considering  updating these estimates and adding a fourth forecasting the 2020 election.

Trump Rules   Probability = 50%, Impact = -.5 (-10 to +10)

President Trump inherits an economy that is extending its cycle of economic growth. Deregulation and lower taxes further boost business profits and provide gains for his supporters.  Trump strengthens his hold on public opinion as a leader who gets things done. This allows him to run the nation like a corporation, treating allies as good team members and punishing enemies. Trump takes credit for successes and blames scapegoats for failures, while protests are smothered under dubious counter-claims and discredited. Congress goes along, encouraging him to dismantle much of the EPA and other disliked programs. By the end of his first term, Trump has transformed the US into a more purely capitalist and authoritarian society, somewhat isolated and in slow decline.

Trump Changes  Probability = 27%, Impact = 3

 Donald Trump is a brilliant strategist, and when the Congress shifts to Democratic control in 2018, he recognizes that his political survival requires a major change of course. As crises mount, his family and advisers press him to “pivot”’ toward being more traditionally presidential and cooperative. He modifies policies to appease critics, stresses the good progress he has made, and becomes more friendly, while continuing to confuse opponents with doubtful charges. The president is persuaded to yield on issuing incendiary tweets, and some opponents are even mollified by the Trump charm. Congress is pleased to see him appearing more reasonable, and Democrats approve the less controversial parts of his agenda. The US enjoys some prosperity and peace, although with occasional flare ups of political crisis and conflict.

Trump Falls   Probability 39%, Impact = -1

The voices of protest become so persistent that they overwhelm Trump’s defenses, making his presidency untenable. The administration suppresses protests with force, causing violence to grow out of control and bringing normal life to a near halt. Enormous political pressures force Congress to work around Trump and assume effective leadership, with support from Vice President Pence and key Republicans. The rest of the world goes on while the US struggles with this constitutional crisis. Global agreements stall, and the world becomes increasingly chaotic. China becomes the dominant world power, with Russia also gaining influence. Trump resigns rather than suffer impeachment, and Congress hands power to President Pence.

Typical Comments

Here is a small sample of expert comments. This is only a cursory look over a representative sampling of expert opinion, but it suggests two contrary themes that seem to be emerging: Increased business profit and economic growth—but failed promises, crisis, conflict, and lost support.

  • If Trump is anything, he is a populist. And with a one-party Congress, they are likely to achieve some positive ends.”           
  • “Increased spending on infrastructure projects in the US along with decreased taxes should improve the bottom line.”           
  • “Trump is pro-business, and profits will be made.”
  • “Many of the promises made during the campaign will be abolished, making the followers turn away from him.”
  • “Much of the USA will grow tired of Trump’s antics and rhetoric.”
  • “Instability. Promises not kept. Other nations will compete equally with the same tools.”
  • “In a post-truth world of lies, Trump has more to live up to than he will actually deliver on.”
  • “It is likely we will be entering inflation and a severe recession. Wall Street and Main Street will be continuing their stark separation.“     
 
Recommendations

The report will also include advice for adapting to the Trump Era. Some tentative recommendations include:

  • Study trends, expert opinion, and forecasts such as this to prepare for strategic contingencies such as a global depression.
  • Develop decentralized organizations of self-supporting units able to cope with hyper-change.
  • Search out creative niches that offer opportunities for advantage, such as prospects for modernizing US infrastructure.

Collective Intelligence to Solve the MegaCrisis

Collective Intelligence to Solve the MegaCrisis

William E. Halal, The TechCast Project, George Washington University

 

Note: This article is a summary of our three-part study covered in the blogs of  April 11,  April 25  and May 9.

……………………………………

The coronavirus is a stark reminder of the devastating damage that could be inflicted by cyberattacks, superbugs, freak weather and a variety of other threats. These wild cards are in addition to the existential challenge posed by climate change, gross inequality, financial meltdowns, autocratic governments, terrorism and other massive problems collectively called the Global MegaCrisis.

 

I sense the world is so frightened by recent disasters that people are searching for new solutions. They seem ready to break from the past that is no longer working. Climate change is starting to bite, for instance, and there is a growing consensus that the status quo is no longer sustainable.

 

I have studied this dilemma for decades, and I think it can be best understood as a transition to the next stage of social evolution. The Knowledge Age that dominated the last two decades is fading into the past as AI automates knowledge, forcing us to move beyond knowledge and develop a global consciousness able to resolve the MegaCrisis.

 

Yes, I know this is a bold claim, but that is how the shift to a world of knowledge looked 40 years ago. When computers filled rooms, I recall telling people that we were entering a world of personal computers. The typical response was “Why would anyone want a personal computer?”

 

Just so, today’s post-factual era illustrates how the smart phone, social media, and autocrats like Trump have moved public attention beyond knowledge and into a world of values, emotions and beliefs. Now the challenge is to use these new powers of social media to shape a global consciousness, or face disaster. While this may seem impossible, that is always the case before major upheavals. Nobody thought the USSR would collapse up until its very end.

 

In fact, the Business Roundtable’s recent announcement that business should move beyond the bottom line to include the interests of all stakeholders is revolutionary. It has now been promulgated by the World Economic Forum and other influential bodies. The gravity of this change is such that business is now being told to help resolve the climate crisis. Larry Fink, who runs the biggest investment firm in the world (Black Rock), directed the companies he owns to help address climate costs in their operations; within days, many firms announced climate plans.

This historic shift in consciousness could make corporations models of cooperation for society at large. In short, I think the world is heading toward some type of historic shift in consciousness, a collective epiphany, a code of global ethics, a spiritual revolution, a political paradigm shift or a new mindset. Without a consciousness based on global unity, cooperation and other essential beliefs, there seems little hope. And with a shift to global consciousness, it all seems possible.

 

Toward a Global Consciousness

The governing ideas inherited from the industrial past are outdated and heading toward disaster. It is a collapse of today’s reigning “materialist” ideology of Capitalism, economic growth, money, power, self-interest, rationality, knowledge, etc. These values remain valid and useful, of course, but they are now badly limited. Prevailing practices in the US, as the most prominent example, are failing to address the climate crisis, low wage employee welfare, universal health care, women’s rights, political gridlock, aging infrastructure and other social issues that lie beyond sheer economics.

 

This could become a “Collapse of Capitalism” roughly equivalent to the “Collapse of Communism” in the 1990s, and it stems from the same fatal flaw – failure to adapt to a changing world. Communism could not meet the complex demands of the Information Revolution, and now Capitalism seems to be failing to adapt to a unified globe threatened by pandemics, climate change and the other threats making up the MegaCrisis.

 

The big question remaining is, “What should be the new vision, values, principles, and policies?” At the risk of appearing pedantic, I integrate what has been learned above and my forthcoming book, Beyond Knowledge, to outline five principles of what I consider “global consciousness.”

 

1. Treat the planet and all life forms as sacred. The Fermi Paradox notes that no other civilizations have been detected after decades of SETI searching. This rarity of life reminds us what a miracle plant Earth really is, and that we are responsible for its well-being.

 

 2.Govern the world as a unified whole. Nations remain the major players in this global order, but they should be lightly governed by some type of global institution like the UN and other international bodies. Individuals should continue to be loyal to their nations and local institutions, but they should also accept their role as global citizens.

 

3. Collaborate with stakeholders to serve collective needs.  Free enterprise is the basis of society, and the good news is that business is on the verge of becoming cooperative. The Business Roundtable announcement that all stakeholders should be treated equally with investors seems an historic breakthrough. This move to a quasi-democratic form of enterprise could set a new standard for collaborative behavior and human values throughout modern societies. One of the benefits from a tragedy like this crisis may be a loss of faith in the status quo and an urge to cooperate. I see it everywhere, and it is a blessing in disguise emerging out of chaos.

 

4.Embrace diversity as an asset.  Rather than becoming a uniform pallid bureaucracy, a unified world should embrace the wondrous diversity of cultures and individuals. Working across such differences poses a challenge, naturally, but differences are also a source of new knowledge, talents and human energy.

 

5.Celebrate community.  Any society needs frequent opportunities to gather together in good spirit, enjoy differences and commonalities, and to simply celebrate the glory of life. The World Olympics Games, for instance, are special because they provide a rare feeling of global community. We could witness a flowering of celebratory events over the coming years to nourish the global soul.

 

Shaping Consciousness

This is only one small study, of course, but I hope it provokes thinking toward a widely held vision for planet Earth at a time of crisis. An historic change in consciousness is hardly done overnight, and the obstacles posed by the status quo are formidable. But the Information Revolution provides a powerful method for shaping consciousness by using the Internet and public media. Think of the explosion of ideas, hatred and forbidden desires released by billions of people blasting into loudspeakers like Facebook and Twitter. Anybody can use the media to shape public opinion instantly, for better or worse.

 

The task we face is to shape a unified consciousness out of this morass of differences to solve the global crises that loom ahead. Today’s threats to reason is challenging us to counter wrongheaded beliefs and to provide more attractive visions, such as the principles for global consciousness outlined here. I suggest the place to begin is by discussing these ideas as widely as possible, and to shape public opinion roughly along these lines.

 

Click here to see this article

 

A related version has been published in the Journal of Futures Research.
 
 

BEYOND KNOWLEDGE:
How Technology is Driving an Age of Consciousness

I am pleased to provide this summary of my forthcoming book, Beyond Knowledge. This is simply a quick outline of the central theme, but the book should come out later this year.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and constructive criticism at Halal@GWU.edu.

 

The Age of Consciousness Is Here

After flying large aircraft in the Air Force, working on the Apollo Project and a stint in Silicon Valley, I became an academic at UC Berkeley and promptly became fascinated with the revolutionary power of the technology revolution. Although I also study business, economics and the social sciences, I  introduced a course on Emerging Technologies in 1980 when information technology began taking off.  Soon, a few colleagues and I developed what is arguably the best forecasting system in the world. The project won awards, was featured in a full-page article by The Washington Post, and I was flooded with requests by corporations and governments.

I also began to understand that the real story was not about the technology itself, or even its social fallout. Instead, it seems the technology revolution is driving an unrecognized social upheaval from “knowledge” to “consciousness.” The most striking example is the advent of today’s “post-factual world.”

The post-factual phenomenon forces us to see that the Age of Knowledge, which dominated the last two decades, is receding under today’s flood of smart phones, social media, artificial intelligence and autocrats like Trump.  Knowledge is still crucial, but the tech revolution is driving the world beyond knowledge into a new frontier governed by emotions, values, beliefs and higher-order thought. I think this means that  an “Age of Consciousness” is here, though one may not like its current form. Whatever one thinks of President Trump, almost all would concede that he is brilliant at creating an alternative reality. He is a master at shaping consciousness.

But why should we be guided by this epidemic of fake news, ignorance and outright lies? Because this eruption of unreasonableness has enveloped the globe, and it provides a clue to the new world of consciousness now being born. It’s like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, and a shot across the bow of ships of state. Politicians in Russia, Turkey, England, and Brazil, to name a few, now take refuge in dismissing criticism as fake news. Authors have called it an “Assault on Intelligence,” “The Death of Truth,” “A World Without Facts,” “The Death of Expertise,” “Truth Decay” and “The Fake News Fallacy.” [1] 

This rule of unreason pervades life today, and numerous examples suggest it is epidemic.  The US government, for instance, has been locked in stalemate for decades, even though Congress has more knowledge than it can handle. Emotional issues like abortion, gun control, immigration and the other roadblocks to a sane society have been studied to death, yet gridlock persists because of conflicting values, self-interest, and a hunger for power – consciousness again.

This brutal reality should make it rather obvious that the roots of disorder that plague our time are not rational problems to solve. They involve all the complex, messy, emotional baggage generated by normal people; they hinge on matters of subjective consciousness. The domain of consciousness is where the problems lie, and so it is also where the solutions are to be found.

Beneath this tectonic shifting in consciousness is the driving force of artificial intelligence (AI), automating knowledge work and driving us into this new frontier. The rapid advance of AI is probably the most powerful force for change today.Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on … more profound than fire or electricity.” [2]  The result has left business, government and the public alarmed at the impending crisis in which roughly half of present jobs are eliminated and causing social chaos.  AI poses one of the most perplexing questions of our time: what lies beyond knowledge?

As this book will show, everything beyond knowledge is subjective consciousness, and the advance of AI is more evidence that we are moving into this confusing new domain. This historic shift in social evolution is illustrated by the graph below which makes the case vividly. I have struggled with this problem for years, and the result is this accurate plot of what I call the “Life Cycle of Evolution.”  The logarithmic time scale is needed to encompass the billions of years at the start of the LCE as well as decades today. Without a log scale, the shape of the LCE would not be recognizable.  The curve would simply make a sharp turn up.

In this clarifying light, the next stage of social evolution becomes rather easy to envision.  The data show accelerating progress through the earlier stages, and the logical next stage is the culminating birth of an Age of Consciousness, about now in 2020. A global level of consciousness is needed because it is increasingly clear that we are all dependent on one another in this single planet, that we should strive to become global citizens. The inspiration for this concept is provided by the brilliant insight of the Jesuit anthropologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who envisioned the world guided by a web of consciousness that envelops the globe. [3]

A close up of a map

Description automatically generated

 

Yes, this is a bold claim. I have earned a good living and a small measure of fame by forecasting change. Publications attest to the accuracy of my forecasts in the 1970s that the Knowledge Age would arrive about 2000. [4] At that time, I recall telling people that personal computers were coming, only to be greeted with “Why would anyone want a personal computer?”

Yet in 2000, PCs were everywhere, books on knowledge became rife, corporations competed to become “knowledge organizations” and the majority of jobs required working with computers to manage knowledge.  I am equally confident that an age of consciousness is here today, and we simply do not yet understand this intriguing new frontier.

Consciousness has been around throughout history, of course, so what is really new? Information and knowledge have also been used in ancient civilization, but the Knowledge Age occurred when information technology matured into the most powerful force on Earth, occupying the bulk of the labor force and our very minds.

In a similar way, consciousness is becoming a powerful technology, although barely understood, and it is changing the world. The most prominent example is public media. Think of the explosion of opinion, hatred and forbidden desires released by billions of people blasting into loudspeakers like Facebook and Twitter. Anybody can use the media to shape public opinion instantly, for better or worse. We are awash with seeing actors, TV stars, politicians, athletes, ordinary people with heart-breaking stories, cute kids doing smart things and influencers like Kim Kardashian.

The challenge is to shape a unified consciousness out of this morass of differences to solve the global crises that loom ahead. As we will see in a moment, today’s threat to reason is challenging us to counter these wrong-headed beliefs and to provide more attractive visions that offer hope. To put it more sharply, we are all shaping consciousness because that is where the action is.

This historic transition also poses enormous threats that must be resolved to avoid disaster and reach global maturity. Climate change, automation of jobs, gross inequality, government gridlock, financial meltdowns, terrorism and more have formed a constellation of end-of-the-world challenges that a colleague and I call the “Global MegaCrisis” or the “Crisis of Global Maturity. [5] Our studies estimate that roughly 70 percent of the public thinks the present world trajectory is not sustainable. People have deep fears over today’s global crises and failures in governance, and they attribute it to a lack of leadership, vision and cooperation.  The World Economic Forum published a report on Global Risks that stops just short of panic. [6]

The technology revolution will add even greater threats. I draw on my state-of-the-art forecasting system to show how the entire technology revolution is likely to unfold in the years ahead. It shows the vast range of benefits in store, but also the enormous problems of “eating fruit from the biblical tree of knowledge.” Smart cars, for example, will follow a similar path as smart phones. “A car is very much like a cell phone, and that makes it vulnerable to attack from the Internet,” said Jonathan Brossard, a security engineer.[7] Among the AI threats, many are horrified at the prospect of robotic weapons turning on people.[8]  Now ponder what could happen when billions of intelligent devices like these are wired together in the Internet of Things?

Even today, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a global disaster, and it has shifted public opinion in favor of social unity and cooperation, the very changes in consciousness proposed in this book. This crisis serves to warn us of the even greater dangers ahead as climate change and the other threats comprising the MegaCrisis hit home in a few years. 

This difficult transition can be compared to the transformation every teenager faces when passing through their own crisis of maturity. At some point, the problems become so severe that most teens eventually find the courage to act more wisely and become responsible adults. In a roughly similar way, this is humanity’s challenge to grow into a sustainable civilization. We are being forced to grow up, to develop a responsible global order, or suffer catastrophe.

This book will provide a sophisticated evolutionary perspective that shows how a global consciousness is emerging to resolve these threats and create a mature civilization. More than a theory, chapters will support this view by showing how people are changing their lives, their work, social institutions and global mindset.  As seen in the chapter outline, I make a point of fleshing out these concepts with details, evidence, supporting examples and steps to consider.

I will show how consciousness is that inner place where we live our mental lives and it is changing rapidly. People are practicing mindfulness, living with Nature, using psychedelics and other “technologies of consciousness” to develop compassion and other integrative attitudes that improve health and well-being. Personal shifts in consciousness are also underway as many abandon the dogma of religion to use diverse spiritual resources to guide their own “human spirit.” All this work on consciousness is being used to make sense of a confusing new era and to help us to perform our jobs in a slightly crazed, high-tech world.

We will also see that our collective consciousness is shifting to transform the major organs of society that define how we live our public lives – government, business, universities, religions and other institutions. In each case, I will show that a small avant garde is quietly bringing a mature awareness to these varied facets of society. Drawing on numerous examples, we see how government can become lean and responsive, business is turning democratic, education becoming student centered, and religions moving from doctrine to a personal relationship with the spiritual dimension of life.

For instance, the Business Roundtable announcement that firms should serve all stakeholders rather than profit alone is historic. The New York Times called it a “watershed moment … that raises questions about the very nature of capitalism.” [9] Leading corporations like Whole Foods, IKEA, Nucor Steel, Nortel, and Unilever collaborate with employees, customers, suppliers and governments to solve tough problems and create value for the company and stakeholders. Larry Fink, who runs the biggest investment firm in the world (Black Rock), even directed the companies he owns to help address climate costs in their operations; within days, many firms announced climate abatement plans. [10]

Corporations are the most powerful institutions in the world. This impending shift to a cooperative form of business could set an example for societies at large, spreading tendrils of collaborative problem-solving throughout the social order.

Following these ideas for institutional change, I discuss methods being used to manage our consciousness in order to cope with the demands of high-tech life. We focus on applying what I have labeled “technologies of consciousness” (ToCs). ToCs are techniques, tools and methods we use to guide our awareness, mood, understanding and other facets of consciousness, or “human spirit.” As we will see, this includes hard technologies (drugs, brain prostheses, virtual reality, etc.); ordinary parts of everyday life (coffee, alcohol, media, etc.); leadership (purpose, cooperation, etc.) and many other tools for guiding consciousness.

A striking example serves as a case in point. A few years ago, the chairman of Aetna defused an audience of angry shareholders by wading into the crowd and asking forgiveness for his mistakes and shaking hands with the critics. Here’s how a board director described the result: “In 15 minutes he changed the mood of that entire room. It was one of the most skillful demonstrations I have ever seen.” [11] The chairman’s actions illustrate why higher-order forms of consciousness are likely to take off – they are simply more effective.

We briefly look at the use of meditation, prayer and other forms of inner guidance, the healing balm of Nature, and psychotropic drugs that relieve stress and provide insight. For instance, I cite a poignant story of a housewife who uses small doses of marijuana to relieve insomnia and anxiety, allowing her to become a “better mother to her children.” We then summarize evidence showing that managing the mind can instill higher-order values of cooperation, empathy, gratitude and compassion that are essential to a unified globe.

The superior power of higher consciousness provides the key to resolving the MegaCrisis. As shown in the LCE, each stage of evolution has been propelled by revolutions – the Agrarian Revolution, the Industrial  Revolution, Post-Industrial Revolution and, most recently, the Information Revolution. Now, the world is awaiting a “Mental/Spiritual Revolution” to kick start the Age of Consciousness.

This transition can be explained using the Hegelian dialectic. [12] In Hegel’s terms, the Information Revolution forms the “thesis” that has been driving the world into a Knowledge Age, while the Global MegaCrisis represents the “antithesis” challenging this status quo. The coming Mental/Spiritual Revolution provides the catalyst to resolve this crisis and create a “synthesis” that becomes the new status quo – a unified global order.  

This may seem outrageous, especially at a time when hostilities seem hopeless, and I could be proved wrong as the world descends into disaster. But the evidence outlined throughout this book supports this possibility pretty well. I suspect this transition is a normal but difficult process, and that it probably occurs on countless civilizations throughout the universe.

The main reason this seems optimistic, and even foolhardy, is because we have no experience in global consciousness. Huddled in our small section of a limitless universe, humans have little conception of planetary evolution, much less the transition to a unified world. Our understanding is roughly similar to a naïve person who first witnesses the agony of a human birth or a teen struggling to adulthood. Without previous knowledge, these painful transitions would seem awful, too hard to bear. Yet they are entirely normal and usually successful.

So too will our  passage to global maturity appear in years to come. The current global order is not sustainable, and I think we should see a rising mental/spiritual revolution, global ethics, universal moral code or something similar about 2025 or so. A functioning global order is then likely to appear about 2050 +/- 10 years. In fact, I am as confident in this forecast as I was in 1970s that the Knowledge Age would arrive about 2000.

A unified global order will still bear the normal human failings, but it will make our current strife look as primitive as the brutal battles between kings’ armies in the feudal ages. This may sound too good to be true, yet I think most people today will live to see the coming of a unified planet and the triumph of human spirit, once again. Then it’s on to the Space Age.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved. William E . Halal


[1] Hayden, The Assault on Intelligence (New York: Penguin, 2018) Anne Applebaum, “A world without facts,” Washington Post (May 20, 2018)   Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise (New York: Oxford, 2018) Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael Rich, Truth Decay, (Santa Monica: The Rand Corporation, 2018) Adrian Chen, “The fake news fallacy,“ The New Yorker (Sep 4, 2017)

[2] World Economic Forum, Jan 24, 2018.

[3] The Phenomenon of Man (Harper Perennial Modern Thought, November 4, 2008)

[4] Halal, “The Post-Industrial Organization,” The Bureaucrat (October 1974)

[5] Halal and Michael Marien, “Global MegaCrisis: A Survey of Four Scenarios on a Pessimism-Optimism Axis,” Journal of Future Studies (March 2011)

[6] Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker, and Anders Wujkman, Second Report to the Club of Rome, (New York: Springer Science (Jan 2018). The Global Risks, (Switzerland: World Economic Forum, 2018.

[7] “Security researcher warns cars can be hacked,” (CSO, Jan 2014)

[8] New York Post (Jun 15, 2017)

[9] Sorkin, Op. Cit.

[10] “Can Corporations Stop Climate Change?” (NewYorkTimes.com, Feb 24, 2020)

[11] Ben White, “SEC Nominee Donaldson Has History of Calming Investors Fury” (Washington Post, Dec 11, 2002)

[12] For a modern explanation, see Michael Allen Fox, The Accessible Hegel  (Prometheus Books. 2005)

Thought Power

Using brain-computer interfaces, scientists have taught a monkey to “walk” a robot by simply thinking.  

Researchers at Duke University trained a monkey (Idoya) to walk on a treadmill, and electrodes were implanted in her brain to capture electronic signals. The signals were translated into computer instructions and sent via high-speed Internet to the lab in Kyoto, Japan, where the robot “Computational Brain” (CB) resides. The monkey could watch the robot on a large monitor and was instructed to control CB through her own walking motion. As Idoya walked, CB also walked at roughly the same pace with minor time delays. The lead scientist, Dr. Migeul Nicolelis, said “We have shown that you can carry brain signals across the planet to control devices in the time scale that a biological system works.”  

But that’s just the beginning. The researchers stopped the treadmill, leaving the monkey standing still and continuing to stare at the video of the robot. Whereas before Idoya was merely thinking about its own walking, now it was asked to make the robot walk using its thought alone.  For 3 minutes, Idoya “walked” the robot using sheer thought power. The team plans to demonstrate that human thought can operate an exoskeleton (robotic body suit).

TechCast was first to identify this exciting new technology and to define it as “Thought Power.” We forecast that intelligent brain-computer interfaces enabling people to communicate mentally with distant objects and people are likely to arrive commercially in about 1 decade.  

Gene Editing to Cure Cancer

After the discovery of CRISPR in bacteria, a cut and paste DNA system used to defend against foreign genetic sequences especially those inserted by viruses, researchers transformed the discovery into a tool called CRISPR/Cas9 that can make precise cuts in the genomes of other organisms as well.

To put this tool to good use, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have proposed a clinical trial where this gene editing technology would remove and alter human T cells that target foreign cells in cancer patients.

Since clinical trials of gene-editing therapies have already taken place and the ethical considerations have already been discussed, the researchers have cleared the first hurdle by winning unanimous approval from the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The proposed two-year trial will treat 18 people with myeloma, sarcoma, or melanoma who have stopped responding to existing treatments at U Penn; the University of California, San Francisco; and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. For the next step, the researchers will need to obtain approval from the ethics review boards at their institutions and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

So far, the testing of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in lab animals has yielded mixed results and worked only on some cancers. However, the researchers have made improvements to the technology and will monitor immune responses and for any off-target cuts in genomes.

As Hank Greely, a Stanford law professor points out, whoever owns the therapies stand to make a lot of money. Currently there are potential financial conflicts of interest and issues with intellectual property. The Parker Institute, a foundation established by Facebook billionaire Sean Parker, is funding the trials. The trials will utilize methods based upon earlier work by Carl June of U Penn, which genetically modified cancer patients’ immune cells and would create a financial interest in the outcome.   

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, filed a patent application in 2012. Then, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard filed a patent application under an expedited review program and were awarded the patent in April 2014. Until recently, the US awarded patents to those who could show that they were the first to invent, rather than the first to file. Then US switched to a first-to-file system, complicating things, and now proper licensing agreements have to be established.

The Robots Are Coming — To make You Creative

The AI Revolution has created a palpable fear that ”The robots are coming to take your jobs!”  Studies conclude that roughly half of present jobs could be lost to automation, even professional work, possibly leading to mass unemployment and social upheavals 

TechCast asked our thought leader-experts to forecast the future distribution of jobs across the occupational spectrum for the year 2030. The results below tell a different story that opens the way to a creative society.

 

Results and Conclusions: Muddling Through

Results are tabulated below and show that the majority of experts believe that a reasonable path can be found through this difficult transition. We call this the “Muddling Through Scenario.” This is a “middle” scenario in which an organic combination of market forces produce new creative jobs and government support offers GMI benefits, containing unemployment to tolerable levels.

TechCast experts collectively judge that humanity will find its way safely through the coming AI/robotics crisis as the world reaches a more fully automated stage of development about 2030. Automation is likely to eliminate about 22% of routine jobs but the loss is likely to be compensated by roughly 8% of workers gaining a guaranteed minimum income (GMI) and roughly 15% finding new jobs in “creative work.”  

 

Expert Survey Results for OECD Nations in 2030 (N = 53)

 

The Possibility of a Creative Society

This is a modest study, and many complex issues are involved, yet we think this forecast provides useful insights into how the AI issue can be resolved. 

We conclude that government support and innovative enterprise could absorb this AI threat and turn it into a new domain of creativity.The adoption of GMI and the growth of new creative jobs are likely to keep unemployment contained at 11 percent or so, which would be bad but not a major crisis. Furthermore, the widespread use of AI should increase the level of knowledge and intelligence to unprecedented levels, fostering a society of creative change and understanding.

The key is to recognize that AI can automate routine knowledge work, but there exists a huge unexplored economic domain beyond knowledge—creativity, entrepreneurship, vision, collaboration, diplomacy, marketing, supervision, and other higher-order functions that are uniquely human. See the figure, “Structure of Consciousness.” Advanced AI may be able to solve tough problems, but it cannot provide vision, purpose, imagination, values, wisdom, and other capabilities that are essential for sound leadership and tough choices.

 

Intelligent machines are likely to take over routine service and knowledge tasks, but the technology will remain limited and people will always want a real person to provide human contact and handle tough issues. Staff is growing rapidly in universities, hospitals, research institutes, and other advanced settings for these reasons. The service and knowledge work sector could grow to 50−60 percent by 2030.

In the end, rather than diminishing people, the net effect of AI may be to enhance the value of these higher-order talents that are a unique gift to humanity.This conclusion may seem contrary to many who are convinced a disaster looms ahead. We respectfully suggest that, yes, the robots are coming to take your jobs, but more creative work and better support can also foster a more innovative, prosperous and thoughtful civilization.

This article is a short version of the AI and Future Jobs published in Foresight: The journal of future studies, strategic thinking and policy.

Space Comercialization

The commercialization of space has come into focus as a fact of life recently. Just a few years ago, space commercialization was limited to satellite production, launch, and maintenance. Since 2010 when the US signed the National Space Policy, there has been increasing support of commercial space, and this was boosted in 2013 with the National Space Transportation Policy. To create a true space era, however, two major breakthroughs are needed  — big advances in space technology and lower costs.

TechCast covers the six forecasts below on space. These forecasts suggest we should see dramatic gains during the next decade as space tourism and commercialization take off. 

 In the computer industry, and particularly in microchips and miniaturization, Moore’s law has been dramatically lowering the production costs of advancements in “silicone” based technology. A similar trend is underway in space commercialization. A first step in this direction was taken when NASA opened the space race to visionary entrepreneurs. The “Silicon Era” dominated the past 70 years. In space, the same trend is happening with major investments in scores of companies like Space X, Virgin Galactic, Orbital Sciences, and Boeing.

For example, the Space Angels Network has funded 23 companies pioneered by entrepreneurs in space technology, from manufacturing satellites to manufacturing better engines for space launches. Mars-One, the controversial enterprise committed to sending people on a one way trip to Mars, is funding its mission through a combination of reality show and crowd-funding. Other companies are planning trips to the Moon, building private space stations, and mining asteroids.

I can’t help but draw parallels and wonder — can the new technological innovations co-evolve to bring space commercialization closer to reality?

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Anamaria Berea, PhD, is on the faculty at the Smith School of Business, U. Maryland and a TechCast Expert. 

Weed Is Back

One of TechCast’s Social Trends is quickly becoming the status quo.

After centuries of euphoria and medical use, marijuana in early 20th-century America entered decades of “just say no” and mass imprisonment for its use. Today, legal pot finally seems to have returned.

As of 2019, 30 states in the US now accept some form of legal use. Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Columbia, and the Netherlands have legalized or decriminalized possession of marijuana. The Czech Republic, Portugal, and Uruguay have extended legalization to “hard” drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Much like the ending of alcohol prohibition in the 1930s, it nally became evident that laws against marijuana failed to discourage consumption, and the harm resulting from them was overwhelming. Criminalization of pot and other drugs created a global black market worth US$300 billion/year and cost about US$1 trillion in police activity over four decades. American prisons are home to 1.6 million people, half of whom have been convicted of either selling or using drugs. And, despite frequent suggestions that legalization would cause rampant drug abuse, only 6.5 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds now use marijuana, the lowest proportion since 1994. 

In a letter to the UN, more than 1,000 world leaders including 27 US Congressmen and six Senators said the global war on drugs has been a “disaster” and called for change.                                                                                 

They have been joined by the United Methodist, the World Health Organization, the New York Times; countless physicians, judges, and police o  cials; and the majority of citizens in modern nations.

TechCast’s Social Trends forecast roughly 30 strategic movements in politics, business, medicine, lifestyles, and almost anything else leaders and planners should be thinking of, and we have forecast the arrival of Legal Pot for some years. Our latest results suggest that a third of G20 nations are likely to legalize marijuana use shortly after 2020, creating a global market of about US$30 billion per year; this seems modest compared to the black market of US$300 billion.

This signals that more lenient drug policies could become the norm. Our experts believe the social impact is likely to be moderately positive, although this will require new policies in most institutions. Social hostesses now plan their dinner parties to accommodate vape pens with more than fruity avors or infuse a little Pineapple Express in the hors d’oeuvres.

The result should be a significant improvement in medical treatment of drug use, reduced crime, fewer prisoners, saved cost of police work, tax income for states, and greater tolerance of lifestyle differences. Who knows? Legal pot might do a lot to improve everybody’s mood, and maybe even ease today’s dismal world situation.