The only good reason to speak is to change people

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I have been a professional speaker for over 18 years, alongside the various entrepreneurial endeavors that have kept me busy over the last couple of decades.

It is a great privilege. Speaking is a truly wonderful way to make a living. I get to travel all around the world, having done paid speaking engagements in 30 countries so far. I learn in every engagement, in preparing to do the best job possible each time and by being exposed to a wonderful diversity of people, organizations, and industries. And I love the performance of professional speaking, stemming from my younger days as a musician.

However speaking must be done with purpose.
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An overview of futures and foresight in government agencies around the world

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In 2014 Sweden made headlines as the first nation to appoint a Minister for the Future, Kristina Persson. Unfortunately, her role only lasted for a year and a half. Sweden’s experience with long-term planning at such a high level is common. Many governments spend a few months to a year thinking about the long-term future before taking a break.

The context for foresight in government

For governments to plan for the long-term future, they must first sustain their efforts at long-term thinking. Long-term thinking actually has a history of at least 100 years in national governance. In fact, an entire field has built up in that time devoted to helping organizations, both public and private, to forecast, plan, and prepare for the future.
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How far will the shift in power to individuals go?

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A few weeks ago I gave the keynote at the Asian Forum on Enterprise for Society in Manila, Philippines. The conference began as Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility in 2002, this year celebrating the anniversaries of the convenors, 50 years for Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and 60 years for Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF).

I was honored to give the opening address on How Different Will the Future Be?, immediately preceding the keynote by the Vice-President of Philippines, Leni Robredo, who drew on her background as a social activist lawyer to present a powerful view of possibilities, in fact echoing many of my themes of platforms and cross-boundary collaboration.

One of the themes of my keynote was the massive trend of the shift in power to individuals.
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Using stress scenarios to manage risk and enhance strategy

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I recently ran a small project for the technology division of a major financial institution that is planning its workforce requirements over the next 3-5 years.

They recognized that there are substantial uncertainties to their planning, including how financial services will be delivered, the types of technologies that will be used, the specific skills that will be required, the availability of those skills in the market, and the organisational structures for internal technology services.

As such they wanted to apply scenario planning to make sure they were addressing those uncertainties in their planning.
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Keynote slides: Business in the Age of AI

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This morning I am giving a keynote at Oracle CloudWorld Sydney on Business in the Age of AI.

Below are the slides to my keynote. As always, my slides are designed to provide visual support for my presentation, not to be useful on their own, however may be of interest even to those who didn’t attend, especially in the 7 key elements to an AI strategy, also summarized below.

Conversations with scenario thinker and networker extraordinaire Napier Collyns

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Napier Collyns has long been an eminence grise of the world of foresight, not publicly visible but immensely influential in his ideas and connections, especially through his role as co-founder of Global Business Network and his seminal work as part of the original team at Shell in the 1970s that created modern scenario planning. In my book Living Networks I used him as my case study of the most extraordinary networker I know. He is the closest to a mentor that I have had in my long career as futurist and even before. A memoir of his life is currently being prepared by International Futures Forum.

In 2008 I recorded a video of a conversation with Napier on a diverse array of topics. Below is the video together with a full transcript. It provides deep insights into scenario thinking and how the history of scenario planning has shaped its role in business today, perspectives on the evolution of human networks and networking and assistance in the “gentle art of re-perceiving”.

Conversation: Napier Collyns and Ross Dawson from Ross Dawson on Vimeo.

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How will a pedestrian’s death shape the future of autonomous cars?

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Yesterday morning I was interviewed on the Today show on the implications of an Uber driverless car killing a pedestrian in Phoenix, Arizona. The segment is below.

The big picture

It is truly tragic that 1.3 million people are killed every year by automobile accidents (heavily weighted to developing countries, putting into context the already devastating death toll of for example 30,000 in the USA and 1,200 in Australia). By one analysis 94% of these deaths are caused by human error.
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Sydney – Explore the future of sex: the evolving intersection of technology and human sexuality

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My company Advanced Human Technologies launched the web publication FutureofSex.net in 2011, seeing it develop into one of the most prominent publications globally in the space today.

At the time I wrote about the reasons for launching the publication, including simply that it is a very important topic for us all to explore, given the technologies we develop are shaping who we are in a multitude of fundamental ways.

As the publication has progressed I have realized even more how critical this issue is. We published a summary Future of Sex Report to distill the key ideas and their implications.
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Cyborg rights: law and society must allow us to modify ourselves

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Yesterday I was interviewed live on the ABC National News on the case of Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, who had just been convicted for paying for his bus ride using an implanted chip instead of a standard bus card.

Below is the segment, running through the court case and conviction, followed by a 4 minute interview with me on the implications.

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Periodic Table of Disruptive Technologies and Innovation

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My colleague and friend Richard Watson and I have created a number of visual frameworks together over the years, including the Trend Blend series , the original Extinction Timeline and What will appear and disappear.

Richard has continued to create wonderful frameworks, with his latest a Periodic Table of Disruptive Technologies and Innovation (full size 9MB)


Click on the image for full size version (9MB)
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