It’s complex

Robert Hickson Jul 29, 2020

An article in the EETimes suggests that advances in autonomous vehicles are not moving as quickly as expected because those working on them have confused complicated problems with complex ones. Engineering can only take you so far in complex worlds. Complicated systems tend to have fairly predictable inputs, processes and outputs. Complex systems (like city streets) not … Read More

After the Pandemic

Robert Hickson Mar 26, 2020

It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future.   Opinions and uncertainties Some current headlines … Read More

The futurist’s metaphorical menagerie

Robert Hickson Mar 16, 2020

  Futures folk like animal metaphors for uncertainties. “Black swans” is a favourite one, and currently doing the rounds with opinions about COVID-19. The term “black swan”, popularised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book of the similar name, refers to unanticipated events with big impacts. However, COVID-19 and other epi- or pandemics aren’t black swans. They … Read More

The speeds of life

Robert Hickson Mar 08, 2020

  Many people think that the speed of change today is unprecedented. That’s just because we have short memories. Historians focused on Western civilisation, like Vaclav Smil, point back to the late 19th and early 20th Century when electricity, radio, the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, cars, planes, anaesthetics, and (a bit later) antibiotics emerged. Smil … Read More