Newsletter 2017

Newsletter - Foresight and Strategy 2017

Past copies of Foresight and Strategy (formerly eSAMI) our monthly e-newsletter, are available.

For other years please click below :

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December 2017

Jonathan Blanchard Smith was elected to the position of SAMI Fellow in November. He says “I was very pleased to join SAMI as an Associate in August; it is a real honour to become a Fellow. I look forward to joining my impressive and talented colleagues in delivering robust decisions for our clients.” We’re very glad to have him with us.

Inevitably, Brexit continues to dominate much of our public-facing work. Jonathan presented our futures model at the Institute of Risk Management Risk Leaders’ Conference in London in November. We’ve developed the model in response to the need to have non-party political ways of thinking about the UK’s departure, and we were pleased with the very positive response from the audience. It’s clear that in business, there is a real need for a way of thinking about this once-in-a-lifetime event in a value-neutral way.

A podcast of Jonathan being interviewed by Mark Sackler of Seeking Delphi about the SAMI Brexit model is available here.

Gill Ringland spent an interesting two days in Brussels at the ESPAS annual conference ‘Global Trends to 2030: The Making of a New Geopolitical Order?’ on 22-23 November 2017. ESPAS is inter-institutional collaboration between the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European External Action Service, which aims to monitor global trends and offer strategic foresight to the EU’s decision-makers.

The focus this year was on Europe’s role in a new world order, and the conference’s accompanying publication: ‘Shaping the Future of Geopolitics’ contains a rich collection of over 30 original, forward-looking, anticipatory essays from the speakers.

We mentioned our support for the Grant Thornton Sheffield Ambition event last time. Thevideo and a review are now available. There’s more about it in our blog. We also spoke at a Grant Thornton event for Finance Directors in Cardiff – Wendy Schultz’s slides are available on Slideshare here .

Futures Issues

The concept of the “circular economy” as a way of reducing waste and conserving resources got a boost from Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur. Less than 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothes. But in a ‘new textiles economy’ where clothes are worn longer and reused more often there could be a $500bn economic opportunity for the industry.

AI has learned to spot suicidal tendencies from brain scans . A new machine-learning technique could help identify those suffering from suicidal thoughts. Putting subjects through an MRI scan and presenting them with various positive and negative words, the system was able to correctly identify 15 of the 17 suicidal patients

NESTA have identified four ways to mitigate damaging effects of the 4th Industrial Revolution : a) shifting ends and purposes towards socially beneficial goals like healthcare and away from warfare and advertising; b) means and participation – opening up the 4IR to millions of entrepreneurs, innovators, makers, and citizens; c) humanising 4IR by reinforcing our dispositions to cure, care and relate; and, d) complementary innovations, eg in regulation, social structures and institutions.

The FDA has approved a pill with a digital tracking device that you swallow. Intended to help track whether schizophrenics are taking their pills, this innovation perhaps raises several privacy issues.

The integration of AI, robotics and weapons presents problems – even if outlawed how can we eliminate their actual production and use? A group called Stop Autonomous Weapons ( is lobbying hard to prevent the rise of “slaughterbots” .

Dubai’s project to adopt Blockchain Technology at a city scale earned it the Smart City of the Year award for 2017 . The jury valued its effort to lead global thinking and deployment of blockchain technology in applicable government services as well as its commitment to support the creation of a blockchain industry empowering start-ups and businesses.

Japan faces an existential crisis due to falling birthrates. The country has 40% fewer newborns than in 1949, and an average life expectancy of 87, with birth rates of only 1.4 per woman. Soon there will not be enough able-bodied people to keep the economy going.

Rolling Stone magazine highlighted 25 people changing the future , not just in technology but in politics, economics, agriculture and medicine.

Tesla has launched an electric truck , claiming it will be much cheaper to operate. Power generation will continue to be a major issue as electric vehicles move to the fore.

Our Blogs

Over the last month our blogs have covered a variety of topics, steering away from issues of Brexit for now. Firstly we looked at a social enterprise – Ethical Reading – that has developed out of Grant Thornton’s Future Perspectives project and aims to encourage organisations become more ethical. Staying with Grant Thornton, we went along to one of their breakfast seminars. This was focussed on Generation Alpha (those under 7 and the ‘yet-to-be-born’) and what the future might hold for them. In early November we attended an APF workshop in London where, amongst the several futures techniques discussed, the delegates heard Bill Sharpe and Graham Leicester talk about Three Horizons . And later in the month we again joined Grant Thornton – this time in Sheffield – at the second in a series of events entitled Sheffield Ambition where a lively discussion explored what the future might hold for Sheffield.


November 2017

As Gill Ringland steps back from a lead role at SAMI to become an Emeritus Fellow, we reflect on the ways in which she has radically changed the company, and her unrelenting energy that has driven us forward. And how so many clients, contacts and friends have valued her support and direction over the years.

With her seminal book, Scenario Planning , recently re-published in paperback, Gill set out the whole basis of the field. Reviews have been fulsome and long-lasting. Gill also pioneered the creation of SAMI as a “virtual organisation”, which is fast becoming a model for the 21st century. We are grateful she will still be there to consult and support us in our exciting journey into the future (one of many!).

We continue to work with Grant Thornton, and recently facilitated a workshop for #vibrantsheffield, where participants explored how change could be used to drive an “Ambitious Sheffield”. After a lively debate, we now have a series of viable plans that the group will take forward. SAMI look forward to more dynamic events to come both in Sheffield, and in Cardiff and Milton Keynes.

We also presented our views of current megatrends and major uncertainties to the Chartered Quality Institute. A hot topic was how AI/robotics might affect the profession – requiring a change in skills towards empathy and relationship building.

Brexit concerns continue. Having produced a stimulating brochure exploring four scenarios for 2030 , our new Fellow, Jonathan Blanchard-Smith, will be expanding on his thoughts at an upcoming CRSA (Control and Risk Assessment) Forum in December .

Jonathan is also leading a workshop on Brexit and Risk : “Workshop on Brexit for Chief Risk Officer/Heads of Risk” at the Institute of Risk Management’s Risk Leaders Conference, 23 November 2017, with the wonderful theme of “No more business as usual”.

Our training day on cognitive bias – “why do you take bad decisions?” – is going ahead in central London on 28th November 2017. Contact to sign up

   Futures Issues

In what is clearly a PR stunt, Saudi Arabia have granted a robot citizenship . But this does raise the important question whether robots should have rights as AI becomes smarter. And of course there is the irony that “Sophia” spoke unsupervised and not wearing a headscarf – rights Saudi women don’t have. Perhaps more important Saud news is the consolidation of power by Prince Mohammed bin Salman – does this herald a more liberal approach or is it more about control? Either way the implications for the troubled region could be significant.

As women increasingly set up their own businesses they are designing products from a female perspective . How disruptive will this prove to be? Women may also benefit from the way AI shifts the human role towards empathy and relationships.

Younger generations are suffering more mental health problems, in part due to constant exposure on social media. Can technology help? NESTA have been exploring how virtual reality can provide exposure therapy , and how AI chatbots can deliver coaching on demand, and how other innovations tackle everything from prevention to self-monitoring and peer support.

ING predict that 3D printing will amount to half of all manufacturing between 2040 and 2060. A significant implication is that means a drop in word trade by up to 40%.

VR is helping prisoners “escape” . An experiment in Chile is letting prisoners view immersive films of their families, in order to ease issues on their release. Will this reduce recidivism, or is it defeating the point of incarceration?

Robots are moving into fast food . Flippy can produce perfect burgers every time, whatever the meat.

   Our blogs

Over the past month, which saw the annual round of UK Political Party Conferences, our blogs have focussed mainly on some scenarios for the UK post-Brexit that we had developed and which are available as a brochure from our website. Having covered the introduction to these scenarios last month we began by looking at the two Brexit globalisation scenarios , followed by an exploration of the two Brexit localisation scenarios described. A blog covering thoughts on our conclusions followed , after a brief foray into some ideas raised by some of the political events in Europe, in particular Spain


October 2017

Its an amazing autumn here in the UK, with many days of blue skies and sun, picking out the autumn foliage. Almost good enough to divert attention from the challenges all round. These challenges are provoking interest in the future of governance as many of our frameworks crumble, in the future of work as technological change sweeps across industries and professions, and in the foresight approaches that are most useful in these uncertain times.

Brexit, and its implications for the UK and the EU, continue to preoccupy us. A series of posts on our blog explain the thinking underlying our recent paper, and we shall continue to explore the issues from a European perspective as some SAMI colleagues visit European governments, NGOs and corporates this month.

Two training days targeted at Board members are coming up:

  • Dealing with uncertainty: Political & Economic uncertainty is the new business environment norm, so we are now also offering a one-day internal workshop on the analytical tools for dealing with uncertainty. It will examine causes of uncertainty and responses to uncertainty, 19 October, London
  • Training on bad decisions – overcoming cognitive bias. Central London on 28th November 2017

   Futures Issues

Moving into the debate on AI and jobs, Gartner suggest that by 2020 AI will displace 1.8 million jobs , but on the other hand create 2.3m, making it a net creator. Seems a bit early? Primarily it will augment jobs.

But if you think empathy and emotions may be the preserve of humans, you may be alarmed at the developments for robots to mimic empathy .

Predictive policing is arriving (remember Minority Report?). Police in Durham are using a system called Hart (Harm Assessment Risk Tool) that classifies individuals and ranks the probability that they will commit another offence in the future. Other studies warn of using algorithms and predictive software tools because they flag ethnic minority defendants as high risk at double the rate of white defendants.

Despite security concerns, the Internet of Things continues to grow . Vodafone says that the number of large scale IoT projects has doubled in the last year. Two thirds of all companies agree that digital transformation is impossible without IoT.

McKinsey are predicting the blurring of market sectors, as digital technology creates emerging ecosystems of interconnected businesses . These ecosystems will do away with traditional industry borders, requiring companies to develop partnerships and innovate their value chains.

Generation Z may not be lazy and feckless shallow digital natives incapable of real world friendships as some of their elders believe. This BBC programme shows they see themselves as hardworking, entrepreneurial and about to change the world for the better.

We’ve seen it happen in many arenas, but a new book shows that facts don’t change opinions . Confirmation bias is too strong. To win someone over, you need to identify shared goals. See also SAMI’s blog on cognitive bias .

   Our Blogs

Our short series of blogs about foresight completed with a summary of some case studies in the use of futures techniques. This was followed by blogs on how Boards might improve their risk literacy and a review of a recent talk in the Centre for Cities ‘City Horizons’ series . With all the talk about Brexit and the current round of party conferences we have started another short series of blogs on scenarios for Britain in 2030 which will continue over the next few weeks.

September 2017

Our thinking on Brexit continues to evolve. We have been publishing regularly on our blog, and are now proud to announce our new paper, “Britain 2030 – four post-Brexit scenarios”. We have brought our experience in foresight to this most pressing of national problems, and whilst no-one can predict this particular future with confidence, we present four alternative scenarios, with their implications for Britain, and British business in particular. Click here to download or view a copy.

Wendy Schultz and I have both (separately) been in Africa this summer (Tanzania and Zimbabwe respectively) and shared our perceptions. 
>First, the trajectory to energy, roads, housing, schooling is set, albeit with patchy execution: which means for instance in Kenya, 89% of the population has access to the internet – the same as in the UK. While this of course does not mean that there is not real deprivation, and it is not all of Africa. 
Second, the energy of the young population has enormous potential, reaching beyond a purely economic model to similar questions of identity that Europeans ask themselves. 
Third, with an energized and increasingly tech savvy young population, Africa is also benefiting from increased trade, development, and diplomatic relations with Asia, which it might in future leverage into a much more significant role in global politics and economics.

   Future Issues

Mixed signals for self-driving cars:

An AI robot has performed in the top 20 percent of students on the entrance exam for the University of Tokyo.

Augmented Reality (AR) is making inroads into medical care. Applications include EyeDecide which simulates a patient’s vision (through cataracts for example); the Empowered Brain provides feedback to autistic children; and Accuvein which helps identify where the vein actually is for blood tests.

Fitbit have launched a new smartwatch, Ionic, which will be able to give deep health insights like sleep apnea, on-device dynamic workouts, and improved heart rate tracking. It will also have a continuous glucose monitoring service for people with diabetes. The device also comes with smart features like contactless payments, on-board music, and smart notifications.

CRISPR now offers the possibility of managing evolution. But evolution has been working toward optimizing the human genome for 3.85 billion years. Do we really think that some small group of human genome tinkerers could do better?

An Australian article suggests Generation X is less healthy than Baby Boomers despite smoking and drinking less. How will these trends affect healthcare generally?

   Our Blogs

Since our last full edition before the summer break we have maintained our weekly blog postings and have touched on a number of different subjects. Firstly we shared some thoughts from a recent report completed for EU-OSHA on trends and drivers in ICT and work location. We then returned to the current conversations on Brexit and looked at some of the issues facing business. Following our attendance at a Centre for Cities seminar we posted a review of a talk on the role of cities as part of a modern industrial strategy and, more recently, have posted the first three in a short series of blogs onforesight, what it is, the evidence that this works and some of the tools that support futures thinking.

August 2017 – Training special edition

With the summer break upon us, this eSAMI focusses on training courses we are planning for this Autumn.

A recent BBC Radio 4 programme on Critical Thinking was part of its Bringing Up Britain series. Forming good conclusions and making informed decisions when faced with information which may be incomplete, uncertain or just plain wrong seems more important than ever, so Critical Thinking is a skill which everyone should have.

Political shocks, rapid technological advances, shifting generational attitudes and economic upheaval show that change is happening everywhere – and in complex interconnected ways. 
Straight-line forecasting or assuming the status quo continues are no longer – if they ever were – a basis for sound strategic planning. 

Fortunately, there are tools and techniques to help you deal with this complexity. Delivered by professional futurists, who have years of top-level experience in a wide range of organisations, our Autumn SAMI training courses help participants develop their critical thinking skills to help make decisions in uncertain times.


This course is Intended for those new to futures thinking wishing to learn several techniques that they can apply to real-world issues in their organisations and provides opportunities for hands-on experience of their use in a workshop format. 
2 days, 25th, 26th September 2017, and 5th, 6th March 2018 
Central London 
£900 + VAT

We are also running some courses aimed at Directors of Corporate Strategy, Policy Directors, Chief Risk Officers, Non-Executive Directors, Governors, Trustees and board advisors, in conjunction with “Better Boards”.


This workshop on risk literacy covers:

  • Risk perception – how risk is viewed as threat or opportunity
  • Risk attitude – how we respond to risk: by seeking or avoiding.
  • Collective decisions – how group dynamics impact board decisions.
  • Accepting uncertainty – recognising limitations on future certainty.
  • Strategic risks – unseen & unspoken risks which boards often take.
  • Risk literacy – benefits of improved appreciation of uncertainty

Half-day, 10th October 
£450 + VAT


This course examines the causes and types of uncertainty, helping attendees get to grips with uncertainty:

  • Causes of uncertainty – knowledge gaps & ‘domains of ignorance’
  • Types of uncertainty – from unknown-knowns to known-unknowns.
  • Reducing uncertainty – mitigating risk and calculating future outcomes.
  • Behavioural economics – cognitive bias and the ‘wisdom of boards’
  • Ambiguity management – perceptions and preferences in the board.
  • Reasoned rationality – creating a balanced and objective consensus.

Full-day, 19th October 
£600 + VAT


This course looks at how we are all prone to bias in ways we are not aware of:


  • The 12 key cognitive biases which cause bad decision making
  • The Columbia Shuttle Disaster and other failures affected by cognitive bias
  • How we can spot when a bias might cause a bad decision
  • New ways of thinking that reduce susceptibility to bias
  • Using bias free language
  • Being more comfortable with uncertainty and working with it
  • A practical process for eliminating bias errors
  • Ten tips for boards 
    Full-day, 28th November 
    £600 + VAT

    And two other courses for early in 2018


    Two-day residential course at Wolfson College, Oxford, enabling attendees to get in-depth understanding of applying foresight techniques 
    January, London – date TBA 
    Cost TBA


    Applying the concepts in Tetlock and Gardner’s book Super-forecasting. 
    Date: TBA 
    Cost: £600 +VAT

    We also offer bespoke courses for in-house teams.

    For more information please go to or contact us at

    Next month we will return to the usual eSAMI format. Enjoy your summer.

    Huw Williams 
    Principal, SAMI Consulting



July 2017

A few interesting thoughts have come our way this month as well as notice of events which may be of interest —

A blog from Stanford University discusses research on why uncertainty makes us risk averse —

A blog from the Association of Professional Futurists (apf) describes a recent conference at the Finland Futures Research Centre in Turku, Finland on “Futures of a Complex World”. As they say “What are the main challenges in an era of an uncertain world? How to create sustainable futures based on empathy? What is the role of futures research in identifying opportunities for action that are fair and resilient while remaining agile in a global and complex world? This futures conference aims to generate critical, multidisciplinary and stimulating discussions that promote networking between people from different backgrounds”. For more see

The apf has also started to discuss why foresight is difficult to teach in Universities – because it spans disciplines. As a recent report from LERU – the Association of Leading European Research Universities – ( brings out, inter-disciplinarity and strong established University schools are in tension, but academic institutions do need to be harnessing the potential of interdisciplinary research. What this means in Foresight – as described by Luke van der Laan of the Doctor of Professional Studies Program at the University of Southern Queensland – is that PhD topics are often co-sponsored between two University schools. “It would be unusual (if at all) for an accredited research doctorate to be dedicated to foresight only”.

The School of International Futures event – SOIF2017- returns for its sixth successive year. The five-day retreat from August 7-11, 2017 teaches the science and art of Strategic Foresight. This year its themes are:

  • The future of education and skills – What will life look like in a world that has started to deglobalise, with increasingly local design, production and flows of people and goods? What skills are needed, what do our educational systems look like?
  • Lean and agile foresight – Companies, governments, local communities, NGOs want to use “agile” and “lean-start-up” approaches to quickly harness insights from foresight into decision-making and operations. It will explore the role of different tools, principles and approaches.
  • NATO Live challenge – Ahead of the 2018 refresh of the NATO Strategic Concept, Jamie Shea, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Issues at NATO will set participants a foresight challenge looking at the emerging issues and how NATO can prepare. You can follow updates on Twitter @SOIFutures or

We will be away in early August – I will be in Zimbabwe – so the next eSAMI will be in September. Enjoy the summer!

   Future Issues

Societal change is often hard to identify as it happens. Is there a generational change emerging in Russia ?. But we do know we have an ageing population. Here are some materials to help you plan for it.

Are automated systems safe? Or did automated systems cause the surprising crash between a US warship and a container vessel ? There are clear signs that something odd was happening when one of the world’s most sophisticated vessels runs into a vast lump of slow-moving metal.

We are at last seeing evidence that electric vehicles are on the march . 46% of new car sales in Norway are electric; And Volvo says that all its new cars will be electric or hybrid by as soon as 2019.

AI continues make strides in medicine – this article discussed the use of AI in radiology , arguing that radiologists should embrace it and recognise their jobs will change. And a University of Adelaide research paper claims that an “off-the-shelf” machine learning system can predict longevity from CT scans as well as humans.

But maybe big data is too risky. Wetherspoon’s seem to think so . And cyber-attacks are becoming expensive – Bloomberg thinks we’re looking as $2.5bn

   Our blogs

In the past few weeks our blogs have looked at various aspects of the future. These have included the possible impacts on Brexit of the General Election and the future of work in pharmaceuticals and life sciences , as well as a look forward at the future of Latin America . We also advertised a webinar on scenarios for Europe for 2030 hosted by Unlocking Foresight and Atkins and based on our work with Grant Thornton International – a blog following this up will be published soon. And finally we noted that interest in Gill Ringland’s book on scenario planning is still high with a review from the Chartered Quality Institute.

June 2017

Two sources of thinking about foresight took my attention this month –

Two articles in Forbes on Foresight, both from Robert Wolcott.

And the Singapore Centre for Strategic Futures has published its 2016/7 IPS Nathan Lectures

Future Issues

If you thought that right-brained emotional intelligence was how humans would outperform AI, then the emotional chatbots being explored in China may cause you to think again. And in his new book, the Heart of the Machine , Richard Yonck similarly describes scenarios for the development of emotional AI.

In a survey on what people want from an AI assistant , Ikea (!!) found that 84% of people wanted AI that could detect their emotions, 63% wanted it to stop you making mistakes (which entails not doing what you tell it to), and 23% even wanted it to be religious! Ikea also announced plans to start selling smart lighting compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and the Apple HomeKit application, thus enabling speech-controlled lighting .

So some believe AI is becoming so important to organisations that they now need a CAIO (Chief AI Officer) ?

Qualcomm are stepping out with the “Internet of shoes” . Devices in the shoe will not only log your steps and help navigation, but also monitor your gait, to tell you when to speed up your pace.

A Ukrainian company has taken a major leap in sustainability, developing a 3D printed “passive” house that doesn’t need any fuel combustion even in Arctic climate conditions.

In some interesting changing social trends, it seems like we may be adopting healthier lifestyles. The young are not drinking as much , and vapers are giving up smoking . Impacts on healthcare, insurance and many other sectors could be substantial.

Our blogs

In the past few weeks our blogs have covered a range of different topics from insurance to cities to social care. Early in May we looked at some possible futures for life insurance and the factors affecting this. Following this we considered some issues relating to sickness absence and households’ financial resilience in this area. Moving away from the financial world we reviewed a webinar on the future of cities and thought about the evidence that foresight works . The UK General Election was then upon us so we had a look at what the manifestos had to say about social care and what might happen going forward. 

May 2017

We are planning a series of training events to help “robust decisions in uncertain times”, as well as our next webinar on The Future of Work in Health, on Wednesday 17 May 2017. It is based on our recent Forum. Click the link for details.

Following the success of our two-day workshop on Futures Thinking skills in March, we are pleased to announce that it will be held again in central London on 3-4 July 2017. The workshop follows a hands-on format which allows participants to practise the techniques of Horizon Scanning and Scenario Planning, in a friendly setting with a small class size and expert tuition.  Feedback from attendees in March included: “I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It has fully met my objectives. Thank you very much for an engaging and interactive training on scenario planning.”   

In August, we are repeating our successful 2 day Bootcamp which introduces a range of futures thinking tools, led by SAMI Principal Dr Wendy Schultz at Wolfson College Oxford.  

One day training courses in October on “Dealing with uncertainty” led by SAMI Associate Professor Garry Honey and “Superforecasting” led by Professor Paul Moxey, will both be in Central London.  

A one day training course in November on “Overcoming cognitive bias” will be led by Professor Paul Moxey in Central London  

And in January 2018 we plan a two day Bootcamp on futures thinking tools in Central London.  

For more details on any of the above please see our Training section of our website, or email us at  

We should also like to mention two dates for a one day course “Foresight on Africa” – 20th June and 6th July, details from Warwick University.

Future Issues

Flying cars have hit the news again with several announcements of prototypes.  An electric VTOL version from German company Lilium (backed by investors who include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström) has been tested. Dutch start-up Pal-V demonstrated a prototype that satisfies air and road regulations and is due for commercial launch in 2018 . And a very weird looking piece of Heath Robinson design was shown off by Larry Page .  The idea has been around for ages – is it finally becoming reality?  

Tesla has overtaken Ford and GM in market valuation. This coincides with TfL investing in a rapid EV charging network .  Is the end of fossil fuel cars nigh?   

China continues its investment in robotics – it will account for more than 30% of the worldwide robotics spending in 2020 – with the manufacturing sector dominating.  

If you haven’t got your head around Blockchain yet, try this TED talk on how it will radically transform the economy.  

Will non-invasive “neurostimulation” enhance our ability to learn?  DARPA is trying to find out.  

New technology is sweeping through the medical profession – this article gives 60 examples of medical applications  of robotics and AI, VR and AR, smartphones and social media, sensors and 3D printing, nanotech and genomics.   

In the world of economics, the idea of basic universal income is becoming ever-more popular – one TED speaker called it “venture capital for the people” – while another economist regards it as a natural evolution of economic systems.  

Our blogs

Recently our blogs have focused on decision-making and reputation management. Our interest in these areas was piqued by two books we read that explored the subject ofdecisions and how these are made which then led us to consider how training in decision-making can be supported. In turn this led to considering how decisions about problems and crises can so easily damage reputations and brand . 

April 2017

As we get back to work after the Easter break, some news of SAMI and colleagues.

SAMI with Global Foresight & Futures organised a Forum on the Future of work in Health to 2040, with reactions like ”terrific event” making us realise that foresight approaches really do help insights! We will publish some of the output soon.

An article by Cat Tully, Alun Rhyddersh and Peter Glenday of the School of International Futures, “Strategic foresight can make the future a safer place” , has been published by Chatham House. This was provoked by an earlier article in Chatham House’s The World Today– ‘The Lost Art of Leadership’ – on how government and corporate leaders were failing to cope with an increasingly unpredictable world. The authors, Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon, opened with the almost unthinkable ideas that Britain might vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump could be sitting in the Oval Office.

SAMI have recently launched a new proposition, providing support to organisations looking to use Futurescaper to help with their Horizon Scanning and Drivers Analysis . Based on our experience of working with Futurescaper on projects such as Horizon Scanning for Defra, the offering provides guidance not only in the practicalities of setting up Futurescaper, but also ongoing support with the data sourcing and analysis.

We are partnering with Unlocking Foresight and Atkins on a series of monthly webinars. The first is at 17:00 hours London time on 26th April, on “The Future of Cities”. This takes a broad look at the role of community and cities, prompted by Ban-ki Moon’s “Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities” and the recent Scientific American article (Varun Sivaram, May 2017) pointing out that 10 of the 20 most polluted cities are in India. The second at the same time on May 17th will be on the Future of Work in Health, and the 3rd on 5th July on Scenarios for Europe. For more details, and to sign up, click here .

The recent election results in Turkey should not have been a surprise – see a description of a1997 scenario study on Turkey by SAMI Fellows Adrian Davies and Dr Adam Scott (It’s the first case study in the book)

Future Issues

Innovate UK has identified some interesting applications of the Internet of Things.

  • Demonstrating how IoT can connect a city: the Cityverve project in Manchester captures information on: travel and transport; energy and the environment; health and social care; culture and public realm
  • Using IoT to deal with diabetes & dementia life challenges: two winners of a £10m NHS competition, Diabetes Digital Coach (DDC) and Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM), are using wearables, intelligent appliances, discreet sensors and powerful analytics to understand and help address the challenges that these people, their families, loved ones and carers are facing.

The Transport Catapult has been looking at autonomous marine vehicles , from oil tankers to data collecting mini-submarines.

And continuing with robots and AI, PwC is predicting that the U.K. will lose 30 percent of its jobs to automation in the next 15 years.

Our blogs

In advance of our workshop on the future of work in health on 6th April we published a short series of blogs. Firstly looking at the use of technology in health , followed by an examination of the impact of other STEEP categories and finally looking at how these currents of change may affect health and social care . We will report back on thoughts for the workshop in future blogs. In other recent blogs we looked at the use of scenarios in strategy development , the future of mobility and dealing with uncertainty . 

March 2017

As the UK approaches BREXIT and is focused on internal struggles, we are fascinated by the happenings in Europe – for instance, President Junckers’ speech on a new blueprint for Europe on 1 March. And we look back at some scenarios to 2050 that were developed in 2010 on the future of Europe , for the Research and Innovation Directorate, which are prescient.

There is a thoughtful look at trends shaping the MiddleEast in a podcast (sound only) I heard recently from Tarek Osman’s talk at the London School of Economics (LSE).

We still have places available on our futures courses in March. A half-day “Introduction to Futures Thinking” on March 30th 2017 aimed at those wishing to understand the basics and decide how the approach might work in their organisation; and a “hands-on” two-day workshop for strategists where you learn to build scenarios yourself –March 27/28th 2017.Contact for more information.

And we can now announce the details of our Future of Work in Health Forum : this is on 6th April in central London, and David Lye ( can provide more detail if you are interested.

Future Issues

The debate about autonomous cars moves on. Elon Musk is still bullish, predicting that all new cars will be driverless in 10 years . Others worry about the legal and ethical issues .

Last month we mentioned Airbus plans for autonomous flying cars , at least in prototype, this year. Now Dubai are getting in on the act with autonomous flying taxis due in the next 5 months.

AI advances continue to surprise with even poker pros being beaten ; how does the system spot a bluff?

Cybersecurity remains a concern. Microsoft President, is calling for a digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace.

And moving on from technology, we again see predictions of increased longevity . How will that affect healthcare, retirement, working profiles etc?

Our blogs

We’ve published blogs on a wide range of subjects over the past few weeks. Firstly there was our update on the issue of Brexit which looked at some of the uncertainties arising from recent political events. Then, continuing the Brexit theme, we looked at the impact of this onthe outlook for cities going forward . We shifted gear for a moment to look at some of the impacts of the new bereavements benefits scheme and, finally, shared some thoughts that came out of a workshop on the impact that machine learning might have on the work skills required in the future.

February 2017

Well, we certainly live in interesting times – and as our clients move from a focus on BREXIT to what is happening to the EU, life gets even more complex.

Meanwhile, I was invited by Joe Ravetz, SAMI Principal and co-Director of the Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy, to lead a seminar on the the future of cities at the newly launched Manchester Urban Institute recently. Joe’s new book City III is due to be published later this year.

We found that one of our most visited blogs was The Airport of the Future. So here is a link to the blogs by Helios on other aspects of aviation

Andrew Curry of Next Wave Futures has published a summary of some of the futures that New Scientist discussed in its 60th anniversary issue in November 2016:

SAMI Fellow David Lye has a recent article, The fourth industrial revolution and challenges for government in BRINK which describes the issues facing government as a result of artificial intelligence and other tech changes.

Our January training events were disrupted by train strikes, but we still have places available on the courses in March. A half-day “Introduction to Futures Thinking” on March 30th 2017 aimed at those wishing to understand the basics and decide how the approach might work in their organisation; and a “hands-on” two-day workshop for strategists where you learn to build scenarios yourself –March 27/28th 2017. Contact for more information.

And we can now announce the details of our Future of Work in Health event on 6 April 2017.

Future Issues

Workplace monitoring is moving from fiction to reality , with a company called Humanyze(clever!) a front runner in the UK. Actually of course, as the Guardian article pointed out, there has been a long tradition of trying to monitor and optimise workers’ activities – from time and motion studies, satirised in I’m All Right Jack , through software to give tight control of call centres and on to the much greater power of today’s wearables – so there’s no doubt about companies’ motivation to take this further. Lots of ethical issues to sort there.

AI ethics also remains an issue, with academics calling for an AI watchdog

The hype around autonomous cars continues, but some in the industry think that full autonomy (known as “Level 5”) may not be happening any time soon. Elon Musk however, claims they’ll be here within 6 months. Even where semi-autonomous cars are designed to hand control back to a driver in some situations, a study at the University of Southamptonshowed this handover could take as much as 25 seconds – potentially a very long distance in a critical situation.

More adventurously, Airbus are planning autonomous flying cars , at least in prototype, this year –how that will work with all those delivery drones soon to be around?

January 23rd was the start of Blockchain week #blockchainweek . Lots of good examples of how Blockchain can reduce costs and improve authentication from several industries. Gartner rates Blockchain as at the peak of the hype cycle – where will it settle down?

At least 9 of the 13 “black swans” identified by Barclays Research relate to geo-political and economic uncertainty, and we could all think of many more. Looks like a bumpy ride in 2017 – how is your scenario planning doing?

Our blogs

Our blogs this week have been diverse. To start the year we have a topical explanation of why 2017 will probably be worse than 2016 with Expect even stranger events in 2017 – why citizenship is nearly dead. Followed by two on care and welfare, A fairer way to fund long term health care and What a month for welfare reform and income protection . Finally a look at Diagnosing and future-proofing governance and risk . 

January 2017

At this time of year there is a plethora of articles & posts on 10 things that will change the world – what’s hot in technology – some I always look at are Scientific American for “10 ideas that will change the world” and articles on biotech such as:

SAMI Associate Tricia Lustig has published a second blog on Huffington Post, “What is a leader to do? Find the right questions”.

I also follow a thoughtful newsletter on India from Deepak Lalwani and with BREXIT looming we may all want to be better informed about India —.”

We have prepared a summary of the the Forum on “Diagnosing Governance and Risk Management then Future Proofing Them” on 16 December 2016, in which SAMI participated.

We still have places available on our training courses in January and March. A half-day “Introduction to Futures Thinking” on January 23rd and March 30th 2017 aimed at those wishing to understand the basics and decide how the approach might work in their organisation; and a “hands-on” two-day workshop for strategists where you learn to build scenarios yourself – on January 26/27 and March 27/28th 2017. for more information.

Futures Issues

Solar power is now the cheapest form of new energy (surpassing wind power) in over 60 countries, and in some forms is matching unsubsidised coal and gas .

This infographic shows how the Internet of Things will affect payment systems, in the home and the car.

Medical advances abound

And on the societal front, France’s “right to disconnect” law came into force on January 1st. This prevents companies from contacting employees in the evening, at weekends or on holiday whether by phone, email or anything else. Details will be worked out over the next 3 months. Would that work in the Anglo-Saxon work culture?

Our blogs

Recent blog posting has been quieter than usual over the holiday season but we hope you caught the book reviews in time to add to your reading list and saw our review of the recentESPAS conference along with our greetings for a Happy New Year!