By Robert Hickson 20/12/2017

While you are out and about over summer keep and eye and ear out for futurists. They are not so common in the antipodes, but more are starting to appear on our shores. There are several species (and subspecies), so I’ve created a little guide to help you identify the most likely ones that you’ll come across in the wild. Some are more worthy of attention than others.


Mayfly futurist – Ephemera ephemera

Source: Hectonichus – CC BY-SA 3.0,

These tend to swarm briefly, particularly in the social media, marketing and fashion fields. Their defining characteristic is the very short term, with production of “Top ten trends in X for 2018”. Can be readily snapped up, but provide little sustenance.


Dung beetle futurist – Scarabaeus singularis

Source: Axel Strauß – CC BY-SA 3.0

Characteristically ponderous, specialising in a single issue. Strong tendency to keep rolling it around to make it bigger and bigger. Fascinating to watch, but can be off-putting in their attempts to convince that this is the manure that will define the future.


Cicada futurist – Cicada irritans

Source: Joaquín Salido Bello – CC BY-SA 4.0


Annoyingly common at times. Identified by a repetitious refrain about the same (often technological) developments (“AI…3d printing…Blockchain…Drones…Autonomous vehicles…AI…”, for example). Can be useful in raising awareness, but tend to fall silent if approached too closely with questions about deeper implications.


Spider futurist – Aranea methodicus

Source: Javier Virués Ortega – CC BY-SA 4.0

Specialists in futures methods and frameworks. Often found inhabiting consultancy organisations. Can be very helpful in sensing and making sense of the environment. But some often re-spin the same limited set of frameworks for every situation, or refresh their webs regularly.

Dragonfly futurist – Futuropetala famosa

Source: André Karwath – CC BY-SA 2.5

A high profile apex futurist, that is highly sought after. Very good traveller. A few really fine specimens about. However, many are less substantive than they seem and have a tendency f to seldom to alight for long, limiting their usefulness.


Mason bee futurist – Osmia collabifera

Source: Beatriz Moisset – CC BY-SA 3.0

These tend to have a more adaptable and constructive nature, well attuned to their operating environment. Very good futures pollinators for organisations. Not too aggressive, and rarely sting.

Glowworm futurist – Arachnocampa nostradamii

Source: Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 4.0

Rare, and tend to live in caves. Often approached with reverence, in part from the perception of a mystical aura. Rather vague creatures, and not so impressive when seen (and heard) in daylight. Observers can become entangled if they get too entranced.

Happy spotting!

Featured image: Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash