Papers 2016 – 2020

How ‘development’ promotes redundant visions. The case of the Queen’s Wharf casino project, Brisbane (2016)

Pathways toward ‘overshoot and collapse’ futures are not always or exclusively determined by international trends, national governments, wars and large-scale events. While cities have master plans and strategic goals most of them evolve within, and are expressed through, a continuous series of commercially inspired projects founded on narrow short-term economic assumptions. They emerge from a typically up-beat, entrepreneurial (profit-oriented) and finance-based worldview that is little short of delusional. As a result, many large-scale projects are poorly conceived and end up working against shared community interests.

The paper considers one such project  promoted as ‘transformative’ for Brisbane – a ‘mega-casino’ and high-end 6-star resort right in the heart of the city. The paper suggests that such projects embody redundant visions based on inadequate information and perverse values. They display a willed ignorance of the recent past, a profound misreading of the present and an increasingly perverse incapacity to confront ever more challenging futures. Read more…

Academic publishing in transition: the case of Foresight (2016)

A concern for professional standards in futures studies and applied foresight is has been around for a while and arguably represents one of the main ways by which the profession can advance and prosper. Journals play a major part in this process since they perform a number of critically vital roles that include: reviewing professional activities, reporting on new and significant work, assisting in the dissemination of ideas, providing a platform for individual opinions and so on. Yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the question of standards within the journals. Meanwhile, academic publishing is passing through a profound upheaval due to the continuing fallout from the ‘digital revolution.’

The paper begins by considering the declared aims and objectives of Foresight. There follows an outline of the method used to carry out the content analysis over several volumes and relate this back to the original study. The rest of the paper reviews the content and themes that emerged through four categories: social interests, methods, focal domains and capacity building. Mention is also made of special issues and ‘outstanding works.’ Finally, suggestions are put forward for further consideration and action. (World Future Review, 2016, 8, 2, 63-74.) Read more…

Autonomous vehicles – who needs them?

For some time there’s been a steadily growing chorus of ‘informed opinion’ by journalists and others writing in mainstream sources announcing the apparently inevitable rise of ‘driverless cars’ (King, 2017). The latter are one type of ‘autonomous vehicle’ (AV) being tested on the streets of various cities. Others are already operating in mines and other industrial sites. Airports have used ‘autonomous trains’ for some time, safely moving thousands of passengers around from terminal to terminal. So-called ‘driverless cars’ are being portrayed as one of many ‘disruptive technologies’ whose benefits far outweigh the possible costs. A view is emerging in the media that the current system comprised of independent vehicles driven by fallible humans is so expensive, dangerous and out-dated that it needs to be replaced. At first glance, it’s not hard to see why. Such a system might well be more efficient, less wasteful and safer. In this distinctly up-beat view, cities could return to being ‘clean and green’ once more. It all sounds perfectly idyllic. Until, that is, you take a closer look at the downsides… Read more…