Robert Hickson

Robert Hickson has evolved from an evolutionist, looking backwards, into a futurist. Many of the skill sets are the same; looking for patterns, making sense of them, and trying to fill in the gaps. He's of the view that in New Zealand we don't do enough forward looking. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent the views of his current employer (if any), or Charles Darwin.

Moving away from the “God complex” – Tim Harford on TED - Ariadne

Aug 12, 2011

Following my previous post a colleague pointed me to Tim Harford’s talk on TED. Tim favours the trial and error approach over the “God complex” . The latter is where someone confidently proclaims they know how a complex system works, when in fact they don’t. This is similar to the fox and hedgehog analogy I wrote about. On a similar vein, good advice to foresight people from Paul Saffo [PDF]  is that if you forecast, do it often and be the first to correct your forecast. Fellow Sciblogger Shaun Hendy wrote more about Tim Harford in July in relation to how some of his ideas relate to improving innovation in New Zealand. Read More

What foresight animal are you? - Ariadne

Aug 10, 2011

In workshops I’ve been involved in a warm up exercise is often to name an animal that symbolises what foresight or environmental scanning is. Common responses are giraffe, meerkat, dog and eagle (or vulture for those with more melancholic tendencies). These animals evoke being vigilant or able to see further or more clearly. (Poor old Ariadne’s cousins rarely get mentioned.) However, this is only part of the skill set for being an effective ‘futurist’. You have to also make sense of what you are seeing. Other animals in the futurist’s zoo can symbolise this talent. Kylie Sven Opossum [Facebook link — you may not be able to get to this at your day job] from the filmFantastic Mr Fox isn’t one of them. He is, though, a good illustration of … Read More

The iBrain? - Ariadne

Aug 05, 2011

 [Long post alert — I want to keep them short and pithy, but the brain deserves a lot of attention, and I’m new to this blogging gig. Synopsis for time limited  readers – scientists want to simulate the workings of a human brain in the next 10 years. Probably won’t do it. But be prepared for a range of interesting brain treatments, engineering projects and widgets] Scientists and engineers are getting more ambitious in the complex systems that they model. Earthquakes, epidemics, flight dynamics of new aircraft, and climate are routinely simulated.  So too are some human organs — heart, lung, and the muscular system. Take a look at the exciting research and applications in this field coming out of the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute.  Now a much more ambitious biological simulation is planned. The Human Brain Project. This is a … Read More

Welcome to my world wide futures web - Ariadne

Aug 02, 2011

These blog postings will be on the theme of looking to the future — foresighting — particularly in relation to science and technologies. But not exclusively; I’ll also be examining social, environmental, economic and political trends and developments around the world as my fancy and browser take me. I’m on the look out for interesting developments, significant trends and influencers or drivers of change and considering the ‘So what?’ questions these raise, particularly for New Zealand. I’ll be taking a critical look at emerging science and technology issues, and will peel back the hype as much as I’m able: The Gartner Hype Cycle So I’ll give my view on where I think some of the things I discuss may fall in the hype cycle. I’ve called this Blog Ariadne. Not because I will be leading you through … Read More