Elephants can be an important symbol to illustrate concepts for how to think about the future. I’ve found a new one to add to the metaphorical menagerie.
NZ’s Productivity Commission has developed draft scenarios looking at the impact of technological change on the future of work. They want to know if they are useful for considering the future labour market effects of technological change. My initial response is no.
It’s hard to find a way through the forest of forecasts about the impact new technologies will have on work and life. Is it going to be terrible, awesome, same same, all of the above, or something else?
Two centuries ago there was an allegory doing the rounds of England. A “New Zealander” – meaning a Māori - at some latter date sat drawing the ruins of London. A sign that all great cities and civilisations eventually diminish and others take their place.
Like business and politics, futurism and foresight are susceptible to short-termism, shallow historical perspectives, and a focus on parts not the whole.
“One-way thinking on a two-way street”, from an Ogden Nash poem, is particularly apt for a lot of the futures speculation and prediction going on all over the place.