Harnessing Future Thinking for Sustainable Decision-Making - Praxis
Harnessing Future Thinking for Sustainable Decision-Making

Harnessing Future Thinking for Sustainable Decision-Making

Through immersive experiences that foster empathy and responsibility towards future generations, we can overcome our fears of the unknown and take meaningful action in the present


Insilico Medicine, a company utilising AI for drug development, progressed an AI-designed drug candidate from discovery to phase I clinical trials in just 30 months, a significant feat considering the traditional timeline. According to Statista, the number of connected IoT devices worldwide reached 14.6 billion in 2021 and is projected to surpass 30 billion by 2025. Four-in-10 or more of IT Professionals within the financial services, telecommunications, and industrial industries indicate that their enterprise is implementing generative AI, per IBM’s Global AI Adoption Index.

42% increase in IC development

The speed of technological advancements has varied over time, with most technologies improving slowly at less than 25% per year. However, certain domains have shown faster improvement rates, such as integrated chips with a 42% improvement rate based on software and algorithms. Over the years, the number of patents in a technological area has not been a strong indicator of a higher improvement rate, highlighting the complexity of technological progress

Power of Future Thinking

The power of future thinking, in a rapidly evolving world, in shaping our decisions and behaviours has never been more crucial. Recent studies have highlighted the profound impact of belief in a positive collective future on individual engagement in public, private, and financial pro-environmental actions. This paradigm shift towards a more optimistic outlook not only influences how we behave in the present but also steers us towards a future that is not just a distant dream but a tangible reality.

Imagine sitting across from an empty chair, representing your future self in the year 2050. Visualise a version of yourself brimming with courage and resilience in the face of climate challenges. Through this exercise, you engage in a dialogue with your future self, expressing fears and concerns while receiving wisdom and reassurance in return. This psychodrama script, based on the “empty chair” method, serves as a powerful tool for preparing individuals to navigate uncertainties and envision a positive collective future.

The Concept of Scenario Thinking

The concept of scenario thinking, a key tool in strategic foresight, enables us to anticipate plausible futures beyond a 10-year horizon. By immersing decision-makers in the process of scenario development, organisations can adeptly navigate potential risks and opportunities that lie ahead. This proactive approach not only enhances decision-making but also provides a predictive model for adjusting current beliefs about the future.

Future thinking, also known as prospection, is supported by various mental processes that enable individuals to simulate, plan, and predict their future. The interconnectedness of memory and future imagination underscores the importance of creating “memories of the future” to expand our cognitive horizons and enrich our decision-making processes. By pre-living hypothetical experiences, we equip ourselves with the necessary tools to respond effectively to future challenges.

Biases Can Cloud Future Thinking

However, the road to embracing future thinking is not without obstacles. Biases such as availability bias and confirmation bias can cloud our judgment when envisioning alternative futures. Moreover, negative orientations towards the past and present, coupled with psychological conditions like depression, burnout, and eco-anxiety, can hinder our ability to imagine and work towards a positive future.

Despite these challenges, the transformative power of collective future thinking cannot be understated. By engaging in role-playing and simulation exercises, individuals can create lasting impressions and enhance their capacity to imagine a brighter tomorrow. Through immersive experiences that foster empathy and responsibility towards future generations, we can overcome our fears of the unknown and take meaningful action in the present.

As we stand on the brink of unprecedented technological advancements and environmental challenges, harnessing the potential of future thinking is paramount. By embracing a positive collective future as a guiding principle, we can pave the way for sustainable decision-making, empower individuals to act in the now, and create a world in which hope triumphs over uncertainty.


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