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Did We Get It Right? The Making of A Ten-Year Urban Tech Forecast
November 17, 2020 @ 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm
How do futurists and their clients make sense of the intersection of emerging technologies and socioeconomic trends? What’s the difference between a prediction and a forecast? In this roundtable Anthony Townsend and Benjamin De La Peña take us on a guided tour of A Planet of Civic Laboratories: The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion (PDF • Miro), a ten-year forecast commissioned in 2010 to inform philanthropic efforts to use big data as a tool to help the urban poor. We discussed how the map was made, what we got right, what we missed, and how this experience informs the Urban Tech Hub’s ongoing horizon scanning work. We were joined by futurist Scott Smith of Changeist, author of the new book How to Future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange to hear about some of the changes in tech forecasting over the last decade, and also discussed Benjie’s ongoing work mapping the tech stack for informal mobility in the Global South.
Key takeaways from the discussion:
- Open data has produced many innovations but not fully lived up to the enormous hype, and evolved in unexpected ways.
- Power can’t be ignored in urban tech forecasting. Much of what we saw over the last ten years was existing institutions extending and remapping their power.
- Retrospectives of forecasting efforts highlight both the content hits and misses, but more importantly the processes of sharing and interpreting the forecast.