Ariadne

Are Covid vaccines becoming less effective?

Robert Hickson Oct 19, 2021

A critical debate about Covid-19 vaccines is when does protection wane, by how much, why, and what does this mean for controlling the pandemic and the impacts of infections. Depending on the studies or headlines you read it can be confusing. Some report declining vaccine effectiveness, and others don’t. Some report a lot, and others a little. Like most things … Read More

Don’t plan on orderly transitions

Robert Hickson Sep 21, 2021

The nature, scale, and pace of change is central to futures work. But usually more attention is given to identifying what’s happening rather than what needs to happen.   Are we living in fast times? Many futures studies focus on how fast the world is changing now. Partly that seems to be a marketing strategy – who’s going … Read More

Goldilocks and the three futures

Robert Hickson Jun 20, 2021

Goldilocks, the house breaker, always had a choice of three, one of which always appeared to be just right. Temporally, there’s three types of futures too. Short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Those are all relative, depending on what you are looking at. Some technologies, for example, change very quickly, so “long-term” may be less than a decade. In … Read More

Significant declarations – signals of change

Robert Hickson May 25, 2021

Several significant statements or declarations have been made recently. Some are signals of change, others are just signalling. The International Energy Agency has long been criticised for misreading renewable energy trends. Last week though, in their report Net Zero by 2050 they made a recommendation: There is no need for investment in new fossil … Read More

SARS-CoV-2 – a natural event or a lab escape?

Robert Hickson May 16, 2021

In books and movies it is often a good plot point for a disease (or monster) to escape, accidentally or with assistance, from a government lab. There are also real cases of pathogens getting out of labs (but quickly being controlled). That’s also a discussion going on now about Covid-19. Natural evolution or human agency? Spillover or … Read More

Types of futures reports

Robert Hickson May 08, 2021

The web comic xkcd created a great (satirical) overview of the types of scientific papers. That got me thinking about the types of futures reports I commonly see.   There are very good reports out there. You just need to read with a critical eye.   Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash … Read More

Futures snacks

Robert Hickson Apr 07, 2021

Here’s a few short interesting developments or discussions I’ve seen recently. Loosely bundled together in a theme of “values.” Irregular labour Is the private sector the best provider and facilitator of “gig work”? That’s challenged in a New Yorker profile of Wingham Rowan, an English social entrepreneur. For many years he has been trying … Read More

Looking beyond regenerative agriculture

Robert Hickson Mar 17, 2021

Regenerative agriculture, where the health and wellbeing of the environment, animals and farmers is prioritised, is gaining cachet. I see that as a necessary but insufficient change to how we manage land and watery environments. In some respects discussions about regenerative agriculture are more backward- than forward-looking. Take, for example, the UK’s Food, Farming and … Read More

Technology listicles, deep tech, and social systems

Robert Hickson Mar 02, 2021

Technology lists, what’s this thing called “Deep Tech”, and thinking beyond the tech. Top “x” lists of technology developments, breakthroughs and trends aren’t hard to find. But how useful are they?   MIT’s “Breakthrough Technologies” This time every year MIT’s Technology Review magazine produces a “10 breakthrough technologies” list. This showcases what it sees as the year’s … Read More

Trends and developments – February

Robert Hickson Feb 23, 2021

This post is a mix of a few recent reports on trends, recent discoveries or developments. Topics covered are the future of work, the geopolitical shift from oil to semiconductors, transition to low carbon futures, disappearing Artic sea ice, and AI in health care.   Yesterday’s Gone A Canadian report from the Brookfield Institute identifies eight megatrends … Read More