The Politics of Future Visioning – on #FutureScapes

Sony, with the help of Forum for the Future, had launched a project called Futurescapes. The project relies on four scenarios which can be seen on the project website. Typically, these scenarios are not informed by the most menacing dangers to our collective futures. While scenarios can be powerful tools, if scenario builders are not willing critique their own assumptions (especially in terms of ecological realities and social justice) – they are wasting their time (if the goal is exploring sustainable futures). Limiting the analysis in this way, however, IS good for Sony and other corporations interested in inspiring consumer confidence.

FutureScape deals with the kinds of questions that need to be discussed in a public realm and not controlled by private/corporate interests. This is important because companies inevitably frame future possibilities in a manner that suits their own perspectives and interests. The problematic framing of the future is evident even in the project name; ‘Keeping grounded – through new technology’. This is a deeply damaging re-framing of the concept of being ‘grounded’. Certainly it is a way of thinking about being ‘grounded’ that will suit the interests of Sony – manufacturer of technology! Approached uncritically, these projects become an extravagant public relations exercise. The sum effect is damaging to our collective social capacity to vision, design and build a positive, sustainable future. 

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