Here at Tech 2025, we believe in having thought-provoking discourse about emerging technologies and the future that challenges conventional wisdom and pushes us out of our comfort zones, and we believe in doing this in a variety of formats — from our live think tank events, to our online webinars, to our book club gatherings, to our game nights.
Last week, we hosted our very first Tech 2025 Game Night (Playing IMPACT – a Board Game About Adapting to Technological Changes in the Future) where we played a board game that tested our ability to predict the future of work based on unpredictable and highly volatile technological advances. IMPACT, a Foresight Game that teaches you to think critically and imaginatively about emerging technologies and the future of society, pushed us all out of our comfort zones and made us think very differently (and critically) about the forces that drive change and innovation on a global scale.
As we broke into groups and played the game, this much became very clear to everyone very soon: the future is far more complicated than we every could imagine and that human beings are hardwired to see the future in super-simplistic patters that rarely align with reality.
Joining us for the event via livestream from Toronto was Jayar La Fontaine, Co-Head Futures and Foresight Strategist at Idea Couture where he helps organizations to develop their capacity for future thinking so that they can respond more flexibly to change and disruption. Yayar also helped to design IMPACT. In an hour-long Q&A with us, Jayar discussed how the concept of IMPACT was developed and deployed (from successful Kickstarter campaign to being acquired by Cognizant) and what they learned about how people think about the future based on playing a board game.He thoughtfully answered everyone’s questions and gave us much to consider about how we think about the future. We can’t thank Jayar and the Idea Coulture team enough for participating and giving this game.
I ended the livestream Q&A by asking Jayar the final question for the evening but, rather than have him answer the question on the livestream, I emailed him the question and asked him to type his response so that we can read it and discuss it in the Tech 2025 Think Tank Forums.
His answer to my question (below) blew me away and should make for great discussion on rethinking the future. I look forward to your feedback on his ideas about the future!
My Question to Jayar:
After developing and playing so many games of IMPACT yourself, what did you learn about how you think about the future that surprised you and what did you learn about how we should be thinking about the future?
“I think my biggest learning from playing IMPACT has been that no theory about the future survives the first confrontation with reality. The future will contain things you expect, things you desire, and things you fear. That’s the nature of reality; it’s messy. And I think too often as futurists we create the impression of an inevitable state of affairs that is just around the corner: AI overlords, complete automation, the end of fiat currency, etc.
In the game, each character has a very distinct vision for the future they are trying to create; it’s part prediction and part rallying cry. If you are an environmental activist, for instance, you are apt to see the future as a battleground in the war of ideas. On one side, you see the people working to achieve that perfect eco-future. On the other, you see the enemies of the planet, etc. Your vision of the future might contain things like vertical farming, aquaponics, improved stewardship and environmental frameworks, carbon taxes, etc. But you forget that those working against your interests have their own vision of a future that is a part prediction and a part rallying cry; maybe they want a future with a large, thriving middle class as a bulwark against both kleptocracy and mob rule, for instance, and they believe that needless regulation makes achieving this vision more difficult. In a society with multiple actors exerting influence through multiple channels – whether legislation, R&D, direct action, etc. – the outcome will never be the triumph of one group’s untarnished vision of the future.
Sometimes you play a character in IMPACT whose vision of the future you love, and they lose. Sometimes you play a character in IMPACT whose vision of the future you loathe, and they win. And the reasons why one or the other character wins the game are always complex and involve many different developments, events, influencers, and so on. That’s the difference between reality and the visions of the future we carry around in our heads that sometimes cloud our judgement.”