Existing strategies are necessary for innovating and anticipating future needs. This episode dives into the realm of futurism with guest Maggie Greyson, exploring her work and insights into strategic foresight, the importance of considering multiple futures, the role of museums in future thinking, and the intersection of technology and humanity. Maggie shares her optimistic outlook for humanity’s role alongside emerging technologies, emphasizing the critical nature of adaptability, empathy, and strategic foresight in navigating uncertain futures. Don’t miss out, tune in now to explore how strategic foresight can shape a better future!

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The Future And How To Think About It – A Conversation With Maggie Greyson

Hi, everybody, and welcome back to the Futurist Society. As always, we have a fascinating guest. And as always, we are going to be talking not about the present but about the future. So today we have Maggie Greyson, who is really cool. She’s a futurist, she’s a designer, and she talks to a lot of people about what they think about the future as well. In regard to her own company, she does a lot of things with museums and gives a lot of insights there. So I’d love to talk with her a little bit more. So that’s why the CEO of the Futures Present. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing in this space, Maggie.

Strategic Foresight

Thank you. It’s so great to be here. I really appreciate the invitation. What I can tell you is that I’m a futurist who specializes in processes. And so, the work that I do is to help individuals and organizations think about the future so that they can make better decisions today. There are lots of different ways of doing that. And the practice that I come from is that it’s a design space. So I have a master’s degree in strategic foresight and innovation. And this is an interesting practice that started in North America and Europe—very Northern Hemisphere thinking that started after World War Two. And the idea was that we must think about the unthinkable. And it was a military strategist named Herman Kahn who invented that phrase. So the practice for many decades has been: how can we win in the face of extreme uncertainty? And the methods have been about reducing uncertainty and becoming, I guess, more comfortable with it in a way that organizations can operate. In the last ten years, it has shifted to be more about how individuals might operate, feel comfortable about the future, and make decisions for the future. Eco-anxiety is a huge, huge, huge problem. Now it’s emerging. And so this question about how we might contribute in a future that’s unknown to us as individuals is something that I’m working on. And working with museums is a place that really gets close to my heart.

And the idea was we must think the unthinkable.

So I’m not familiar with the term ego anxiety. What do you mean by that?

Oh, eco anxiety.

Eco-anxiety. Okay. Yeah. So, yeah, I totally feel that. I mean, that’s something that everybody is thinking about, the downstream effects of climate change. And is that what you’re highlighting there?


I feel like that’s the number one pessimism for the future. That, and I feel like a strong number two, is artificial intelligence that’s going to be wiping at our jobs, wiping out our species. Who knows what’s going to happen with that? But personally, I feel a lot more optimistic about it, you know, and it’s nice to talk to people like you. If you have a strategy in place and that strategy has shown you some benefit, I think it becomes much more optimistic. Like, if you were a basketball team, and you’re playing another basketball team, you don’t have the opportunity to know what their playbook is. But if you have a really good strategy, and you’re winning, that makes you feel good. And if it continues to win over other basketball teams repeatedly, then that would make you feel amazing. And I feel like that’s something that is available to us. But people really don’t know about the process. So can you explain that process a little bit?

Future Thinking in Practice

Sure. So the process involves using multiple tools, multiple frameworks, and deep research. And what we’re looking at is that, when we talk about strategic foresight or future, it’s more than just three or five years into the future. Those tend to be strategic plans, and they can come out as an end result, that’s very productive, of the work that we do. But originally, we looked far into the future to generate possibilities that were quite extreme. So I use this example of Toronto quite frequently because it’s very easy to understand. 

So in 30 years, let’s say, what if Toronto was underwater? We take this extreme characteristic, and what might a city of maybe three and a half million people be when it is under water? Emergency services might say, “We’ve got this, this, and this covered.” for the first day, the first week, or the first month, but over time, what are some of the unexpected implications? How might this affect people, animals, energy, and so on?

So the work that I do is to take a characteristic, a potential threat, or a potential future and ask questions that challenge existing strategies and what we think we know. And I don’t do that with just one scenario. I do that with multiple scenarios. So, for example, what if Toronto was purchased by New York State? And so, you know, what does that look like for the dollar? What does that look like for jobs? What does that look like for education?

The Role of Museums in Envisioning the Future

How do you do that with museums? Because I know that’s something that we had talked about earlier. Because when I think about a museum, I think about looking backwards and a chronological history of what has already happened. When you’re looking forward… I mean if you’re talking about a science museum or something like that, I could see something that is applicable. But how do you fit into that ecosystem?

That’s a great question. So I’ll kind of wrap the bow around the process, which is helping to look at multiple extreme scenarios. I’ll ask a museum: How do you think you might contribute to a scenario that you can’t control or expect? And they will detail out specific scenarios based on research, like this is happening right now in another country or in another sector. And how could we respond to that? 

COVID, as an example, was a fantastic, I guess, learning experience for museums, asking questions like, “What is relevant?” and “How might we be resilient during upheaval?” When I work with museums, I ask them to think about 2050. What do they think the future holds? What are their assumptions and biases? We use these as starting points and then add more details. We consider major drivers of change, like AI, climate change, trust, and shifting populations due to climate refugees. How do these factors change their visitors? What do visitors want to know? How might museum staff need to adapt to continue fulfilling their educational mandate and making education accessible?

Strategic Foresight for Businesses

How do you factor in that kind of strategy for a business, not just a museum? I’m asking for personal benefit. I run a small business. We employ about 150 people, and we’re trying to figure out what the next ten years will look like for us. Is there any benefit to this process for someone like me?

For sure. For sure, absolutely. One of the companies that I worked for was the TechDel computing company, and it was run by an engineer. And they were thinking about 20 years into the future. And for them, everybody, everywhere, will be wearing textiles that grab data off of our bodies, and we’ll use it for input and output.

I love that.

And communication. Right? So, this incredible platform interface doesn’t have a screen, but it’s an information highway.

Absolutely, yeah. The amount of sensor availability, if you were able to harness the power of clothes, like, the amount of information that you would be able to get –  just like from a health perspective, that’s where my background is – that would be pretty interesting. So anyway, sorry, go ahead. I didn’t mean to cut you off. How did this work? How did the company use the idea of futuristic thinking, the idea of what you’re detailing, to get ahead?

Addressing Future Challenges

Well, what we did was, with this aspirational scenario of everybody everywhere, all the time, being able to use this, we know that that can’t ever be true. So we considered the extreme side: who might need this to be true? We also looked at personal stories. For example, anyone working at the company might say, “I’m working on this,” to their cousin or at a party, and the responses would be, “Wow, I wish my sister had that because of her knee,” or, “I wish my daughter had this because she wants to talk to her grandmother and they can’t communicate.” These edge cases become interesting to any company. Then we look at the edge cases happening that we don’t know about.

So what ended up happening was that we created scenarios of future personas that were no longer in extreme scenarios. So let’s have my granddaughter and my grandmother talk to each other. What is a way that an elderly person can talk to a self-driving car? So we look at trends that are outside of fashion and textiles and bodies communicating with each other to see how some of those might impact and intersect with how people behave at a potential level for innovation. So medicine is an amazing example because you’re so connected to labs; you’re so connected to industries and data. 

And so I’ll give you an example of working with a food bank. We went to 2050 and said, What’s it going to be like for everyone here to no longer be food insecure? And we looked at who the climate change refugees might be, and then, down the line… there was a bunch of other research… but down the line, how could they make decisions today to make the food bank a better, more robust place? So, as a provider of services, one of the things that came out of this conversation was that we need advocacy in the government. So, again, in your instance, what are some of the support systems that are not necessarily core to your business, but who are partners that you might need and that you haven’t thought about right now?

Can you give me examples of that? I’m just not sure.

Sure. To connect to the food bank example: if people have more data about themselves and personalized medicine becomes more common, how might someone walk into a food bank in 30 years and say, “I have this allergy, this medical condition, I’m neurodivergent, and my parents have a history of cancer?” The food bank staff could then say, “We have chia seeds instead of cans of peanut butter for you.”

The Optimism in Futurism

A tailored diet based on the data you already have access to, that is an interesting future. Are you optimistic about the future?

I’m a very optimistic person. Yes, I am optimistic about the future because I see changes happening in how people understand themselves. I see people advocating for self-knowledge, agency, and new skills such as empathy, futures thinking, collaboration, and project management. The difference between 20th-century skills and 21st-century skills is dramatic. Institutions and providers are starting to not only talk about but also serve 21st-century skills.

What would you say is a 21st-century skill compared to a 20th-century skill?

Good question. All of your questions are great.

I’m just, you know, curious. I don’t get to meet a lot of futurists like that, just thinking about the future. A lot of the people that I talked to are building the future, right? They’re doing something very cutting-edge, like, you know, artificial intelligence or genetics or something like that, that I’m personally interested in. But it’s nice to talk to somebody who, like, is just thinking about this stuff, right? What do you like, and what’s the difference? Because, I mean, I think that all of our listeners would want to focus on their 21st-century skills, but they might not know what that is.

Well, so here’s a question for you. I’m going to try this example, but I’m a practitioner. I’m not building a future. Here’s a question. When you went to school, what were some of the hard skills that you learned?

Yeah. I see where you’re going with this. So surgical recall, right? Like the ability to understand an anatomic landmark as opposed to, you know, just something that’s there, right? Like, if I’m looking at an artery, I know that this is the maxillary artery and not just like some feeder artery based on the layers of the face that I’ve cut through, so I see where the thought exercise is going with this. And, like, I see how that could be irrelevant in the future. Like, if I’m wearing a Google Glass, that shows me exactly where that is. Like a heads-up display, like you see in science fiction shows, where they point out things to you. I could see how that would be less relevant. But also, just calculations was a big thing, too. I need to be able to make quick calculations on the fly, and I could see how that could be irrelevant as well, because if I’m administering a medication and it’s dosed by weight, I need to be able to quickly make that dose on the fly. And theoretically, an artificial intelligence could just give me the appropriate dose. Right. Based on all the data that’s been collected. 

So I see where you’re going with that. But, yeah, I mean, surgical recall would be important. Data calculation. Empathy is definitely an important skill that we were taught in my training, and I feel like that’s not going out of style. When I think of 21st-century skills, I think the human aspect, like the things that humans can do that AI or computers are not good at, like empathy, touchy-feely kind of stuff, that stuff is going to be more important. Is that correct?

Yeah, that’s a great example. I’m very optimistic about humans and that AI will be a tool or a partner, or in manufacturing, we call them cobots, a coworker and a robot together, and that the things that make us human will be emphasized in our work. And, if you look at the printing press, which is, we’re just going to put words on a page. It’s information that we want to tell people using the printing press; there are lots of mechanical properties to it. But now, if we look at social media and the platforms of the world, the stories and the words that go into them have a much more nuanced and complicated relationship to the people who are reading. And we go from a blank understanding of the information being told to you, and to bring it back to museums, these are the collections that we’ve got: “I went…”, “I stole…”, or “I shot”, or, whatever, “This is my stuff, I want you to see it.” So going back to social media, these are current issues and problems that we’re dealing with and we’re going to make this museum where you can explore how you think about these problems. A 21st-century skill from that might be collaboration, it might be critical thinking, it could be collaborating with people who think completely differently than you and understanding that the languages aren’t the same.

I have no idea what you just said to me, I have a design for a theater background. So when you’re saying those things, I’m interpreting them visually, and they’re going to be wrong because I’ve never cut someone’s face open. However, if I asked you to think about translating an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper into a living experience, that could be hard for some people—maybe not you, but other people that you have trained with. And so the two of us would have to come together to look at what the values are, what’s the story that we’re trying to tell, who is involved in the story, and who’s allowed to be a part of it, and who’s not there, and why are they not there?

I know you’re writing a book right now, and you’re interviewing a bunch of different people about their thoughts on the future. What is the kind of common thread that you see with all the interviews that you’re doing? Because I know you’re talking to people who have huge budgets and non-traditional things like museums and stuff like that, but tell me some common threads that you’re noticing that regardless of the background, they feel the same way about the future.

Yeah, thanks for asking that question. My book is called Making Futures Present, and it’s a field guide for future thinking mavericks and next-level decision-making in times of extreme uncertainty. So I’ve interviewed people who have PhDs in fire studies. I’ve interviewed museum directors from Medellin, Columbia. I’ve interviewed people who are managing global affairs for Canada. And what they say, by and large, isn’t, “I’m worried about the process in which I choose to make decisions.” They say, “What I’m afraid of is making the wrong decision, and the wrong decision often involves hurting people and I don’t want to hurt people.” “My process is to survey the landscape and ask for a lot of opinions.”, or “My process is to go with my gut and I have a lot of experience, and I know that the right decision is going to be based on all of the things that I’ve gone through before, and I’m making the best decision that I can.”

How do you push back against that? Because it sounds like you’re advocating for a process that is not in your gut. I also make that gut type of decision making, and I don’t always necessarily feel it’s the best way. It’s the best way that I know how because as I’m thinking in my head, the best predictor of future performance is past performance. And in this subsection of data that I have from my own life experience, this is how I think that the future performance is going to look. But is there something that you’re teaching these people that is a better way?

Thanks for asking. I come from a place where looking at how a person thinks and feels about the future is key as  data points. What their assumptions are. What their biases are, because everyone has biases. And I help them to identify that they do have a perspective that doesn’t look around the whole horizon at all of the factors that are coming. Also, what are some of the filters that they have right now that they can’t see what the factors are today? So one of the things is that when we think about the future, we tend to think of it as menacing. So some of the decisions that we make may be because we don’t want something to happen. So we’re making decisions to protect ourselves as opposed to making decisions toward an optimistic future or an idea of abundance.

An utopia versus a dystopia.

Exactly. So one of the problems is that when we think of the future as menacing and there’s all sorts of reasons why thinking about the future is scary and I guess unwanted is the news is talking about things that are bad all the time. Bloody headlines.

Yeah, but I mean certainly it seems like that is the most important thing. Like you said, for all these people that you’re talking to, the number one thing that they worry about, that they’re trying to make a plan for right now to predict the future, is that they don’t want to hurt people. Which, honestly, is what made me have faith in humanity. It’s not for personal gain. If they’re creating a new technology, they don’t want to hurt people, which is awesome. But on the same token, how are they ensuring that that happens? Because I wonder if all of the focus is on the news: are they using these worst-case scenarios to avoid them, or does it cloud their judgment, thinking that’s going to be the most likely scenario? How is the process unfolding for people who want to avoid harm?

Yeah. So I will talk a little bit about the process. It can get a little bit jargony. So if I go over jargony, please ask.

Sure. Yeah. I’ll ask. No problem.

Yeah, so some of the processes we use, including frameworks and tools, are in a facilitated scenario. One common method in strategic planning, and especially in strategic foresight, which looks further into the future, involves examining how the problem we’re considering impacts science, society, technology, economy, the environment, politics, and values. This is just one of many frames or frameworks we can use to ask these questions. For example, how does science impact medicine? How do values impact medicine? What are some major changes we see now, or small examples? This framework helps unearth questions, assumptions, and data.

Another framework we use is called Three Horizons. We start in the future and define the ideal outcome we want in 2050, such as no one being food-insecure. Then, we track backwards: what do we need to do five years before that? And five years before that? This helps us get to the present and make decisions that align efforts towards an optimistic or best outcome.

Another popular method is creating multiple scenarios. In strategic planning, this might be called the North Star, but I use futures multiple. Instead of just looking at the desired future and strategic plans from today, we consider different types of strongly characterized futures. For example, what if none of the states had access to water? This is extreme, but in some US cities, they are already facing water scarcity. Where are people moving due to lack of water? What if China purchased all of the US? How would politics and logistics change because of that? I can go on and on.

Yeah, who’s asking these? That seems like a really extreme case. That’s just my own personal curiosity because I feel like that’s mental energy otherwise wasted. Personally, I feel like there are so many things that you brought up that I want to know how we fix. I want to know how we fix food insecurity or how we get ourselves out of the climate change issue. Like, specifically that example, are people asking that question? I feel like that’s just, like, so unlikely, you know?

Unfortunately, the answer is it depends, for any question that you want to ask about the future. We don’t know what the future is.  I will live and die by that statement.

I know we don’t know what the future is, but I’m always trying to figure out a better way to navigate the future. Because right now, honestly, I just feel like there’s so much change happening so rapidly that it’s sometimes very easy to get overwhelmed. I like the North Star philosophy that you brought up because I think that’s something that at least makes me feel more comfortable in the face of ever-present change. For example, AI, right?  I could look at this thing and it could be an existential threat, or I could look at it in the guise of Star Trek, which is like a utopia, and I would love to have a robot best friend like Commander Data, where I’m seeing him navigate the world as a robot and he’s seeing me navigate the world as a human. That sounds like a really fun future. So I look at that, and I’m like, “Man, it would be so awesome if we had that.” And so I don’t want to discount all of the benefits of artificial intelligence because it’s this extreme negative. I try to look at the positive. 

So that’s one thing I really like about the North Star idea that you bring up. But also, I think that, at least for me, in my own life, when I look at it, yeah, there’s a lot of potential futures, but each one has an overwhelming probability of happening or not happening. And I try not to get bogged down with the stuff that’s just not going to happen. It’s so easy to go down rabbit holes and I feel like that’s a lot of what the contributions from the negative aspects of journalism that you’re talking about are. It’s so easy to get caught up in, like, this potential worst-case scenario, which may or may not come to pass, and most likely will not come to pass. So that’s really the reason that I was asking those questions, because I’m sure that people are out there and they’re trying to figure out, “How do I make sense of all this change?” Because it’s so easy as a human being to be afraid of what you don’t know. And so that’s just me, for my own personal benefit, trying to figure out what a futurist like yourself, who’s not only devoted themselves to this process but also has seen a lot of and talked with a lot of other people who have undergone this process does, what kind of strategies are they using to navigate all this stuff?

You asked a lot of questions.

Yeah, no, I apologize. I tend to do that.

No, I think it’s how you make all your guests look so smart.

Tell me what you thought of that really long rant.

So there’s a couple of things. I started talking about the North Star. And the North Star isn’t necessarily the destination. It is an aspirational, optimistic, or best-case scenario. It’s the preferred future. And some of the crazy scenarios that I was introducing are specific to, I’ll say, the client’s situation. So I’m not going to overwhelm you with what happens if all of the bees are gone forever. That might be pretty excruciating to think about, especially when you’re trying to make a decision. So what I’ll do is tailor some of those specific and extreme questions to the situation. Or to the client’s key question about what dental health might be like for people who are 100 or older in 2050. Perhaps not a lot of people are asking that question, but there’s some real tension in it. You have to think about people of a certain age, what particular medical problems they might have, what might be influencing that which helps or hinders progress. Then to go a little bit downstream. You were talking about trends that are getting away from us. Not all trends go in a distinct, increasing direction. So the British call it “the moment”, right? Like Doc Martens, they are having their moment. So things things come and go, and they change at different rates.

Trends or fads.

Trends come and go.

I’ve been caught up in a lot of trends and fads. As somebody who’s interested in the future, I really thought that the Windows phone was going to be the next revolutionary phone, but that just didn’t happen. My best friend always comments on that. Every time I think that I’m good at predicting the future, he’s like, “Remember when you thought that the Windows Phone was going to be the next big thing?” Anyway, I also feel like that about this. I thought about that, about the cyber truck. I was like, “This is going to be so revolutionary.” Never really panned out. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. I thought that was funny.

No, these are fantastic examples. And when you think of what’s happening in the lab or what people are talking about in mainstream media, these are having their moment, and they may or may not come to fruition. They may or may not be something that affects everybody, everywhere, all the time. Like the Internet. They’re calling the future of the Internet the splinternet, where some people have access to social media platforms in certain countries because they pay more for them. What does that do for equality for people who can’t access Facebook, as an example, because they can’t afford the data plan? That’s happening right now.

So the process involved is looking for specific signals that may or may not change things in the future. And a cluster of signals that are relevant may become a trend. We will do an impact analysis of what would happen if that trend became a major driver of change. An example of that is Bitcoin and crypto, and things like that. There’s a lot of pushback from financial institutions that do not want to see alternate methods of payment that they can’t track, change, or have control over. So what if that does become a predominant way of exchanging value for money? Might illegal transactions happen in cash? As opposed to what the legislation is trying to do, which is prevent illegal transactions from happening in the digital space. And some countries are moving towards crypto and blockchain technologies because their inflation is running high.

I think crypto is something that I still have not wrapped my head around. So much of my optimism comes from science fiction. And, in a lot of utopian societies, money is not a thing anymore. And the whole idea of wealth and, you know, keeping up with the Joneses is not a thing. And so that’s something that I don’t know. How do we get to that promised land—to that North Star, you know? But I wonder, do you read science fiction at all? Is that something that you’re interested in? Not really?

I read a little bit of everything.

Or do you follow science? I don’t know. The reason why I’m asking that question is, what is your utopian vision? What is your North Star? For me, I’m just being honest with you. It’s Star Trek, because I look at that, and of all of the utopian societies, I feel like that’s the best one. That’s the one that I want to live in the most. And I was just wondering, as a futurist yourself, what do you think your North Star is going to look like?

My North Star is access to food, fresh food, clean water for free, great conversations like this one, and being able to be in touch with friends and family and giving back in a way that feels satisfying and permanent.

Yeah, I mean, being in Canada, you probably have a lot of those things already right now. So your utopia is available to you. And I think what you mean by that is that you want it to be available to everyone, correct?


That’s the goal. The idea of an equitable distribution of future benefits is a really tough concept to wrap your head around. I want progress, I want a robot butler, but, realistically, it’s going to be a while before Africa gets robot butlers, right? I don’t want it to end on that, that’s like a pessimistic thing. Tell me what you’re optimistic about. I think there’s so much to be optimistic about. For example, food security is one of the things that you highlighted. How do we get there? How do people feel better about their food security? What do you think is coming down the pipeline that they should be excited about?

Okay, well, let’s take this back to museums for a second, because that’s something that I know. What I love about them is the informal education opportunities that they provide and the way people can connect to information in new ways. That’s one of the ways that things are changing. So, from a “look at my stuff” to “how do you want to participate in the future?” And I think that education, intersectionality, relevancy, who works in museums, who gets to tell their stories, how they tell their stories—all of those things are evolving in positive ways. Museums can be and are leaders in helping people to see agency because they’re doing it in a little maker space with their hands, or they’re having an experience of a new idea with someone else beside them, and they can talk about this idea. And what I would love to see is more modeling of what future jobs could be. And we’re starting to see a little bit of that. And I think the intersectionality of science and art is starting to pop up in museums. I think that future skills and future preparation are starting to show up in museums.

I think that future skills and future preparation are starting to show up in museums.

Yeah, certainly people are thinking about it more than ever before, which is really interesting. And I do like the fact that museums are making us think about these questions. I have a two-year-old daughter, and I take her to all the museums here in Boston. And there’s always something that makes them… I mean, it probably goes over her head… but makes them think about the applications of what they’re learning. So, I agree. The whole way that we experience information, whether it’s through a museum or whether it’s through the Internet or whatever, like, it’s totally changing. And honestly, I think for the better. Some of the things that you highlighted and the fact that social media was just so performative. You show a picture just to show how awesome you are, and it’s showing negative effects. I think that there is now a pushback against that. I think that a lot of people see that, and more people are interacting with things, too, just out of intellectual curiosity. I think that’s something that I see more often in the younger generation that I interact with. They’re not on social media as much as you would think. When they are posting, it’s not like taking a picture of my infinity pool in Bali or something like that. It’s something more along the lines of their friends or something. But, yeah, I see those trends happening, and I’m optimistic about the future. I’m sure that you are probably too. 

We are getting close to the end of our time, so I want to ask the three general questions that I ask all my guests just because I’m always interested in hearing their thoughts. The first one is where do you gain your inspiration from? I kind of hinted at mine, which is science fiction. I want to live in this utopian vision. And even what I’m doing I’m always thinking about, how can I make this thing better? What about Maggie?  What are you thinking about?

I get really geeky and I think about systems. I’m fascinated with determination and destruction in the same system. And I think it’s really quirky about how we used to think about the future and idealize it in the 60s and 50s and the robots and stuff like that. Sorry. I’m sure your robot’s going to be absolutely awesome.

I can’t wait. Honestly, I tell every guest, the first day they have a robot that does your laundry. Oh, my God. I’m going to be first in line with a down payment for that. Anyway, I think that’s going to be awesome. 

I think systems and again, in the robot example, the down payment on the robot, in a faster loop than we think, that robot will be cheaper and more accessible to other people. So I get very excited about change, how things change and what the impacts are. So I’m constantly reading about that and theories and examples. That’s why I’m optimistic about the future, because I think things will change for the worse, but they will also change for the better at the same time.

Yeah. I always think about that quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. , “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” I think that the arc of history is long, but it does bend towards benefit of human beings. I think overall it’s very easy to look at the data and say that we’re becoming less violent,  more people have access to nutrition, more people have access to the Internet… all of those things that we hope are happening are happening. And it’s so easy to think that the generation before us was so much better than the generation in front of us now. I think that every generation felt like that. And we continue on this slow upward crawl towards progress. 

So, for the second question, we talked a little bit about systems and strategy. Where do you see that in ten years? Do you think that’s going to be completely offloaded to artificial intelligence? Do you think that this is something that is exclusively going to be in the realm of humans? Because we’re not going to feel comfortable with artificial intelligence making these kinds of decisions? How do you feel like it’s going to look in ten years? Like, the real cognitive stuff, what is that going to look like?

I’m not so optimistic about that. Yeah, I don’t want to end on a downer. 

That’s okay. We got one more question. We’re going to knock that one out of the park. You have two out of three positive responses.

So I’ll give this one what I hope, which is going to be different than what I think is going to happen. Right now, artificial general intelligence is not so much on the radar and that’s coming a lot faster than AI, which is cobbling together ideas and data that have already happened. It doesn’t have a very sophisticated runway to it. Whereas artificial general intelligence isn’t something that governments are keeping an eye on and thinking about how computers might start learning from other computers and then actually change the our rights. So, I mean, you know, how do I spin that? Optimistically?

Yeah, I can spin it optimistically because I respectfully disagree. So here’s the way that I see it just so that people can think about an alternative thing. I totally agree with you with artificial intelligence and artificial general intelligence. The way that I think that it’s going to play out personally is, and honestly, maybe I was asking you the questions so that I could get the answer that I wanted… but the way that I think that it’s going to happen is that human beings will be uncomfortable without human beings making the decisions. I think that artificial intelligence, even artificial general intelligence, will be kind of like an advisor. 

For example, right now, in radiology, they have the ability for artificial intelligence to point out different pathologies from X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and that kind of stuff. But it can’t make the actual diagnosis. It can’t make the actual decision, even though realistically, it can sometimes outperform human operators. But the doctor has to be in charge of actually making the decision to render treatment. And I think that’s going to happen with governments. They’re going to have artificial intelligence that shows them five different possible scenarios for building a bridge. And the contractor is going to say, “This is the way that we’re going to do it.” So I personally think it’s going to be kind of what you talked about, like a cobot, but realistically, in the hierarchy, the human being is going to be in charge. So that’s my optimistic spin on it.

I’m totally with you. It’s when it comes to people believing people having the final say, I agree. I think that won’t change.

Cool. That’s an optimistic version of that. So we’ll stick with that. 

So, number three is something that I always ask my guests. You’re in this futuristism space, and most of the time when I have people on, they’re very focused on cutting-edge technology. So I don’t know if there’s any particular other technology that you’re looking at that is really exciting to you. For example, what I mean by that is that I will talk to somebody who’s working on nuclear fusion. I’m like, “Okay, outside of nuclear fusion, what is the cutting-edge technology that really excites you? That you’re reading in the paper and you can’t get enough of?”  Some people talk about longevity, some people talk about genetic advancements, but you’re kind of like this catch-all umbrella, right? You’re a futurist, so you’re looking at all this stuff. But I guess outside of futurism-specific, or maybe even outside of the things that we’ve already talked about, what is like a technology that you’re looking at in the paper and you just can’t get enough of, like you’re so excited to see come to fruition?

Brain science.

Oh, that’s cool. I didn’t think about that. Tell me a little bit more about that.

The brain is such a black box. I’m always fascinated with how people are learning, how the brain works from a biological and mechanical perspective. But also, people are weird and they do weird things.

Yeah. We still don’t understand it the way that we would. Like, we think we do, but we really don’t.

I don’t think people are algorithms. And so I’m fascinated with the question of how we might understand what people are thinking and doing and what motivates them and what demotivates them and what are they afraid of. And I’m really fascinated in how people are measuring that.


Yeah. No, it’s totally different. And I look forward to those results, too. The idea of brain science, I feel like you could talk about neural networks and how our connection between technology and the brain is going to play out, or just even our understanding.  There’s so much to learn and so much progress, honestly, that’s being made right now. So I never thought about that. But, yeah, I might check out a few brain articles myself after having this conversation. 

And thank you so much for having this conversation. We’re getting to the end of our time right now. So I did want to just make sure that we thanked you for coming on. And thank you to all of our listeners who tune in on a regular basis. As always, if you could like and subscribe, it really helps us. And for those of you guys who are listening regularly, I will see you in the future. Have a great day, everybody.

Bye. Thank you.

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About Maggie Greyson

Maggie Greyson, Chief Futurist and CEO, is an internationally acclaimed futurist and designer. She aids organizations and individuals in envisioning the future to improve decision-making. Maggie also helps museums engage the public with complexity through futures work. She holds a Master’s in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University.


By: The Futurist Society