I first met Chunka Mui in 2017 after reading his book titled The New Killer Apps. I then had the pleasure of working with him on a thought leadership course, where he contributed to a panel discussion on driverless cars. Post course, he participated in a related Driverless Car Interview which you can view below.
In the fall of last year, Chunka contributed to another book titled A Brief History of a Perfect Future with co-authors Paul Carroll and Tim Andrews. The book is fascinating on several levels. It’s effective use of storytelling helps us envision the world of 2050. Its broad view will resonate with a broad segment of leaders, as it covers a future view of computing, communication, information, genomics, energy, water, transportation, healthcare, climate change, and trust.
The authors paint visions of 2050 based on what they call “future histories” – short, provocative news articles set in 2050 that describe how key aspects of the world might look in the areas referenced above. These future histories point us to a future perfect – something that we can aim for, with the alternative of stumbling our way into what they call a Future Pathetic. By envisioning the building blocks that are available to us in 2050, the authors construct that future perfect.
We’ll then paint some pictures of how those building blocks could be supplemented by other technological improvements and novel ideas that, together, will let us construct that Future Perfect. As amazing as these technological marvels will be, the building blocks are not the building. In fact, they could lead to an infinite number of buildings. So, we’ll apply “systems thinking” as much as possible to consider how all factors interact and to point us toward a future that is optimized as broadly as possible, not optimized for each of its parts. We all need to make this difficult mental effort (ecosystems are really complex), or we may waste the fabulous power these building blocks will provide us. We want you to get excited about the possibilities of these technological marvels while also seeing the sort of work we all should be doing now to prepare for their possibilities.Chunka Mui, Paul B. Carroll, Tim Andrews – A Brief history of a Perfect Future
This future-back approach should be embraced by leaders globally. As Chunka said in his earlier book, and reiterated in this one, leaders should think big and start small. By envisioning the future, we can create it by taking small steps that lead us towards that future perfect, while avoiding the dangers of a future pathetic. I have added the book to my library and highly recommend it.