Where do we go from here? An interview with Anthony (Tony) Hodgson

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

These are very turbulent and, in so many ways, unprecedented, pivotal times, when old paradigms sink and new paradigms emerge, when new pathways become available, new horizons open up and we are faced with strategic choices. Some paths will bear fruits and others will be dead-ends; others may be disastrous.

Where do we go from here? To which paradigm do we hitch our wagon? How do we decide amidst all the spin, clichés and uncertainties? Or rather, how do we switch from a reactive mode to a reflective mode? And, finally, the most crucial question of all, which he has added to his LinkedIn profile: where is humanity at on a pathway of conscious evolution?

With decades of experience in strategy development and scenario planning for private businesses and public administrations under his belt, Anthony Hodgson, Director of Research and World Modelling Coordinator for the International Futures Forum, a think tank based in Scotland’s Fife, holds that we must have several futures in mind and cultivate future consciousness in people if our aim to be resilient.
This is because tomorrow won’t be like today and those who think otherwise produce foresight with little action and even less insight.

During his talk at the First International Conference on Anticipation, held in Trento in November 2015, Hodgson quoted a piece of advice from none other than David Bohm: “you must think faster than the horse or else you will go where the horse wants to go”.
The key is mindful anticipation: a system is resilient when it is capable of being ahead of itself.

While in Trento, he has been so kind as to share with us some of his insights and views.

Mr. Hodgson, would you like to explain to us what you mean by “anticipation”?
Authentic anticipation is something more intelligent than what we are doing right now. There is no established anticipatory governance whatsoever, and some traces of anticipation can only be found in commercial trading and the military which also raises the issue of the ethicality of its use

What is the systemic nature of anticipation?

In my model it is the capacity to discriminate information coming from the past from the information coming from the future and to act upon it in a way that privileges the move towards a desired future.

What do you mean by “information coming from the future”? Are you implying time travelling?

What I have in mind is illustrated by what was occurring at the time that Mendeleev was assembling his periodic table of the elements. He shut himself in a room for three days during which he reshuffled the elements with their symbols until the chart took a coherent shape. He was then able to predict that the missing pieces would be discovered in the following years. Those gaps were signals from the future of chemistry and atomic physics.
In point of fact, anticipation applied to scientific research would be a promising field of research. It could include more fringe investigations like Dean Radin’s “Entangled minds”.

He is definitely onto something.

Indeed, he is, and we should also mention physicist Richard Feynman’s concept of waves coming from the future, as well as anticipatory phenomena being revealed by quantum biology. For example, consider the recently identified protein in the cells of migratory birds (as for instance the European robin) which enables them to sense the inclinations of Earth’s magnetic field, guiding them like a compass needle on their lengthy migrations. Perhaps mindfulness, in human beings, serves to discriminate a kind of signal from the future and to translate it into action.

Aren’t you afraid that they will label you “new-agey”?

My research relies on the solid work of Robert Rosen. That is a stepping-stone, but I’ve been connecting the dots from other people’s work. The scientific literature on which I base my research is impressive. For example, it is not widely known that there is valid research on remote viewing of the future.

Are we on a mission to save the future?
If anything, we are on a mission to save a future and, as far as I am concerned, my aim is to create something in this field that it is useful and intelligible, especially for the younger generations, who are unavoidably bound to live through the turbulences of inevitable change us aging people are leaving them with.
I wish to be of assistance to their creating a future that I tend to summarize as “one planet living with social justice”.

Would that be the most desirable future?
There are many futures, but I want this, instead of the one in which we are plundering the planet of its resources.
It’s about values.
There are values and, consequently, such a thing as an underlying ethical motivation in my being interested in this perspective. We need to realise that ethics is not abstract. There are consequences.
It is a vital necessity.

Established institutions and vested interests are struggling to preserve the status quo: are anticipators inherently subversive?
They are subversive because systemically intelligent. It’s important not to be constrained by established orthodoxies imposed by people who simply don’t get it.
Our approach would appear to be unorthodox and iconoclastic, but only from the point of view of the establishment.

In the movie Tomorrowland, a projector of “gloom and doom” visions entrenched humanity into a suicidal state of fatalism, nihilism and cynicism, acting as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is this what is going on today?
To some extent.

What is resilience?
Plasticity equals resilience

Is there a direct link between resilience and anticipation?
I distinguish between adaptive resilience – e.g. the recovery from a disaster, such as a flooding – and resilience 2.0, or transformative resilience.
So if you ask me about resilience, I will first need to ask you what kind of resilience you are referring to.

What sort of resilience do we need the most?
In the Anthropocene adaptive resilience is not enough.
It is no longer a question of getting back to normal. Transformative resilience is the means by which we can ‘wormhole’ our way through a pocket of the future in the present and emerge at a higher stage of human civilization, after a positive shock and the reframing of our mindset.
What we need to learn is to help the old civilization to die and midwife the birth of the new one.

How do we do that?
Technological innovation alone won’t be enough to achieve that harmlessly, without a shock.
If you go with resilience 2.0 then you also need the more “spooky” kind of anticipation, that is, the one centred on retrocausality (unconventional assumptions about time), future consciousness (undivided universe or field of consciousness; internal visualisation), and future making, which assumes that the future can arise from authentic origination.

That is subversive on so many levels!
Sure. At that point you will be thought of as a subversive or a saviour depending on who is affected by your actions. After all, for those managing the current power structure, even anticipation 1.0 is too subversive!.

Why do experts fail in their predictions? What distinguishes an impressive prognosticator/anticipator?
We need the sort of moral courage mentioned by Ruth Levitas in her talk at Anticipation 2015. Impressive prognosticators are courageous and are also good at applying their skills to themselves in the first place.

Is a stoic predisposition – beyond fear and desire – the key to reliable anticipations?
It’s the gentle art of reperception: you can’t teach it through confrontation.
For in that way you would compress someone else’s consciousness instead of assisting in its expansion, which is really what the capacity of anticipation is all about.
At the end of the day, if you are not curious and demonstrate no yearning for knowledge, you will never become an impressive anticipator.

So why not call it wisdom and urge the establishment of a institution of councils of wise anticipators?
Wisdom is indeed ethical anticipation.

In order to deepen your understanding of this perspective you can contact Anthony (Tony) Hodgson by email at tony@decisionintegrity.co.uk or Roberto Poli (who has been his external examiner for his Ph.D. viva at Hull University) at roberto.poli@skopia.it


Edgar Cayce: are we catching up with his prophecies?


Edgar Cayce predicted the discovery of a secret chamber in the pyramid of Cheops and then the anomalous eruption of Etna. These two events he had designated as temporal markers of the beginning of an era of vast transformations.
These two events have actually occurred almost simultaneously, only 20 to 30 years behind schedule.
If Cayce was right about that, a few major disasters in Japan, California, and in the Great Lakes region should follow.

But are we really prepared to believe that there is only one possible future? That in almost a century not a single variable has changed? And since the days of Nostradamus? No alterations of any kind? And how about the biblical prophecies? A single timeline, straight like a ruler, as though everything were predetermined?

That’s hard to believe…


Edgar Cayce aveva previsto la scoperta di una camera segreta nella piramide di Cheope e poi un’eruzione anomala dell’Etna e li aveva designati come indicatori dell’inizio di un’epoca di vaste trasformazioni.

Questi due eventi si sono manifestati in simultanea, con circa 20-30 anni di ritardo.

Se Cayce avesse ragione dovrebbero seguire grandi disastri in Giappone, California, nella regione dei Grandi Laghi, ecc.

Ma vogliamo veramente credere che esista un unico futuro possibile? Che in quasi un secolo non sia mutata neppure una variabile? E dai tempi di Nostradamus? Nessuna variazione? E dai tempi delle profezie bibliche? Un’unica cronolinea possibile, dritta filata come un fuso, come se tutto fosse predeterminato?

Ma anche no…


Anticipation – Towards a true democratization of the Future (by LEAP, FEFAP, IRPA)

intervista Roberto Poli Trentino 11 11 15

The beautiful north-Italian town of Trento for the last weekend saw a global congregation of academics and practitioners from the field of anticipation:

The first international conference on anticipation organized by the UNESCO chair in Anticipatory Systems (Roberto Poli).

Three mornings of plenary sessions and more than 260 talks in parallel sessions in the afternoons provided new ideas, exchange and valuable insights into how we deal as a society with the future.

From the Franck Biancheri network LEAP (Laboratoire Européen d’Anticipation Politique), FEFAP (Fundación para la Educación y Formación en Anticipación Política) and IRPA (Internationaler Rat für Politische Antizipation) participated in the conference through their presidents:

 Marie-Helene Caillol (LEAP): Political anticipation, on open field of research and investigation

 Jose Maria Compagni (FEFAP): Towards a more democratic educational system through the use of ICT

 Christel Hahn (IRPA): Political anticipation – an intercultural view on dealing with the future

LEAP has been doing Political Anticipation for nearly 10 years now through the monthly publishing of anticipations in the GlobalEuropeAnticipationBulletin. So LEAP has not only developed a method and with the “Manual of Political Anticipation1” started to share it with other researchers and practitioners, but also through these 10 years of monthly publications created a comprehensive archive. Moreover, at the end of every year, LEAP has evaluated the accuracy of its anticipations. It therefore invites researchers and practitioners to draw on this valuable material and expertise.

1 “Manual of Political Anticipation”, Marie-Hélène Caillol (Editions Anticipolis, 2010)

Thanks to this, each and everyone can give some thought to the assets and limits of political anticipation. At a time when the world is crossing a critical historical threshold, this Manual is a unique decision support instrument for groups or individuals.

2 OSCE : Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

From the very beginning, LEAPs aim has been to make anticipations and the method of Political Anticipation accessible to everyone. For this, Franck Biancheri created FEFAP that works on educating citizens in the ability to integrate the future into their decision-making.

LEAP also from the very beginning saw that good anticipation needs independence, otherwise you tend to anticipate (or not anticipate) what the institution you depend on (financially and otherwise) expect. But the trade-off of independence (which the Franck Biancheri network has archived and preserved) is a reduced influence on policy makers and concerning the European political level this is currently proving to be a severe problem for the 500 million European citizens. Moreover we can observe since a few decades that the capacity of these political decision makers to make changes is vanishing and so is their actual power.

The current European refugee crisis can be seen as an illustration to this. The OSCE2 has already warned and tried to prepare for such a crisis at the turn of the millennium, yet European policy did not even act in the first half of 2015, when it could have known that the international money for feeding the refugees in the Middle East was missing and so their rations were cut. So those people started to move and migrate into Europe, and the politicians were hardly able to organize the absolute minimum for housing, feeding and registering them and have no real clue, how the integration should be managed.

So, Marie-Helene, in her introduction to the three Political Anticipation workshops, gave out the

parole: Let’s democratize the future. In the past, the future was reserved to powerful people and to keep their power, they also kept the future mystified and thus instrumentalized for their vested interests. Now due to the global connectedness, the policy makers capacity to actually make changes is diluted into the collective power.

This means, that if we, collectively and globally, want to move on, we need to be able to “occupy the future”, meaning de-mystify the future and integrate knowledge about the future into our information base that guides our decision-making and actions.

This would mean that education of the future must include education for the future and that anticipation of the future should be as much a subject in schools, universities and vocational training as history. The future is open, but it is not the totally uncertain horizon, as we have been told, but it is “full of facts”, like global summits, elections, technologies, … and education can give everybody the skills to rationally analyze trends, counter trends and breaking points and deal with the impact his anticipation will have on his environment.

Such a democratization of the future through education would also make it unnecessary to worry about how messages of needed response on anticipated dangers should be communicated to the citizens, how they should be framed. If enlightened citizens understand how our eco-systems balance each other and what actually destroys their balance, they are also, individually and collectively able to act according to this understanding. And only such an individual and collective change is effective, whereas top-down messages tend to produce the opposite of the desired result.

First international conference on Anticipation Trento 5–7 November 2015 – Preliminary report

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

A thought-provoking and intellectually rich First International Conference on ANTICIPATION, organized by the UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems, together with WAAS-World Academy of Art and Science, ISSS-International Society for the Systems Sciences, the Advanced Design Network, and the Department of Sociology and Social Sciences of the University of Trento, took place in Trento (Italy) between 5–7 November 2015 with the participation of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, including design, political science, economics, management, engineering, urban studies, education, life science, humanities, visual arts, etc.


The conference opened with the welcome addresses and introductory remarks of Prof. Paolo Collini, Rector of the University of Trento, Garry Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of World Academy of Art & Science, and Dr. Eng. Marika Ferrari, town councillor of Trento for the Environment.

Jacobs argued that this conference could prove of immense significance for the understanding of the human world.
Ferrari expressed her dismay at the inadequacy of some of the policymaking tools available to politicians faced with huge tasks and quandaries, urging a closer partnership with professional anticipators.

The focus of the first keynote speech — “Anticipation, Complexity and the Future” -, delivered by professor Roberto Poli, UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems at Trento University and head of the organizing committee, has been a critical assessment of inherited models and static understandings of the past, present and future and a call for a less reactive and more anticipatory attitude to crises and opportunities because, after all, all living systems are inherently anticipatory.

Riel Miller

Under the title “Why Establishing the Discipline of Anticipation is a Necessary Condition for More Effective Strategies for Achieving Human Resilience”, the second keynote speech, by Riel Miller, Head of Foresight at UNESCO in Paris, outlined the mission of anticipators as the carriers of a different, expansive paradigm, overcoming outdated rules of command, prediction and control that have heretofore colonised and constrained our future: “we have huge planning facilities, technologies and resources but do we also live in a better world?”. According to Miller, the future should be used to explore people’s thinking of the present, expose and explode biases and prejudices and democratise the future: “democracy is about knowing before choosing”.

Held on various floors, the parallel sessions of the first day have covered a broad spectrum of topics, from design to living systems and from sociology to education.

The second day of the conference started with a keynote speech (“Anticipation or Utopia?”) by Ruth Levitas, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bristol.
She defended the thesis that “utopia, as a method rather than a goal, is the most coherent form of active anticipatory thinking” and “a necessary response to ineffectual and counterproductive policies imposed against the democratically expressed will of peoples”, for “it does not have to be like this”.
Levitas understands utopia as a tool to extend the range of what we believe to be possible, enabling us to assess what we are doing in the light of what we could be doing, and to thereby take alternative realities lurking in the present as potentialities seriously, so that they might actually become possible. Our ultimate goal would then be “to remake ourselves for the world to be otherwise”.

Imperial College Senior Research Investigator Sandra Kemp’s keynote speech (“A space for time: temporality and design in the museum”) dealt with the way cultural values and heritages (e.g. collections of artifacts on display in museums of art and design) influence our relationship with the past, the present and the future: “what can they tell us about the future and our perception of time?”

Parallel sessions have mostly focused on (environmental) engineering, economics and design.


The conference’s last day (Saturday, November 7) began with two keynote lectures on management by Liisa Välikangas (Hanken School of Economics and Aalto University: “Outliers and Strategic Novelty: Learning from Things That Are Yet to Happen”) and on economic sociology by Jens Beckert (Max Plank Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne: “Imagined Futures and Capitalist Dynamics”).

Välikangas pointed out a central predicament of today’s business environment: it is becoming more turbulent faster than companies are growing more resilient. This is mainly due to an excessive emphasis placed upon conventional practices such as specialization, standardization, hierarchy, planning, control, extrinsic rewards. These are clearly inadequate as they can, at best, be effectively employed only in “arrested decay” strategies.
Välikangas mentioned a number of novel enterprises or initiatives — e.g. Kaggle, virtual choir, Shapeways, Wikispeed, Robin Hood activist hedge fund, blockchain technology, etc. — that are usefully exploring non-conventional thinking and moving away from mass production, towards customized products.
These are instances of a new Zeitgeist in which businesses seek to amplify variety, rather than suppress it and to democratize innovation and knowledge gathering and sharing, beyond “old patterns of exclusion of everything that doesn’t come from white males in suit”.

The last invited speaker, Beckert, distinguished traditional societies from capitalist societies by virtue of their different temporal orientation. Capitalism is a future-bound system, as opposed to the cyclical, repetitive pre-capitalist systems.
As a result, Beckert assumes that power in a capitalist society is mostly a matter of “managing fictional expectations” by influencing perceptions of economic futures. This, in turn, implies that competition is about dominating narratives of the present (invisible hand, trickle down effect, American dream, etc.) and visions of the future and instilling the kind of blind confidence that leads to selective suspension of disbelief by heavily relying on the mass media marketing.

System thinking, visions, arts, psychology and welfare have been the principal themes of the concluding parallel sessions.

sponsored by WazArs store

Stefano Fait, Ph.D.
Trento — Italy
Social forecaster, political scientist and anthropologist.
Strategy consultant, communications and social media relations manager for WazArs and -skopìa.
Arts and Culture reporter for “Trentino” & “Alto Adige”. Professional translator.
Editor-in-chief of futurables.com.
Peer reviewer and contributor for Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, University of British Columbia Press, IGI Global, Infobase Publishing, M.E. Sharpe, Congressional Quarterly Press, Greenwood Press.
Laurea in Political Science — University of Bologna (2000).
Ph.D. in Social Anthropology — University of St. Andrews (2004).
Co-author of “Contro i miti etnici. Alla ricerca di un Alto Adige diverso” (2010).


One single man or woman can change the history of a whole species (eng/it)

Poslovni svetovalec Garry Jacobs. V Ljubljani 26.3.2015

Garry Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A short summary of his welcome address to the First International Conference on Anticipation, Trento, 5 November 2015

He has been witness to a string of massive failures to anticipate the future, such as the inability of Kohl and Gorbachev to foresee that the fall of the Berlin’s wall would occur within a few days from one of their meetings during which they had concurred that the German reunification would take perhaps one generation.
These experiences and Roberto Poli’s advocacy supported by sound and cogent arguments have convinced him of the importance of anticipatory techniques, also for those aspiring to realize unrealized, unmanifest futures.
He argues that this paradigmatic shift may well prove to have an immense significance for the understanding of the human world and hopes that the conference “will alter our mental patterns and fully restore the subjective factor in this discipline as well as elsewhere”.
In his opinion “bringing together two apparently irreconcilable forces is what triggers innovation and creativeness” and this is what is needed in education.
He adds an insightful anthropological remark: “human beings do not behave like all other animals. One single man or woman can change the history of a whole species, starting with a vision, an aspiration, the power of an unrealised idea”.
This is because values are intangible and yet they are the deep drivers of history, exerting an inexorable influence on our thoughts and deeds.
Unknown unknowns do not bother Jacobs: “With no uncertainties there would be no possibilities to explore and no responsibilities to shoulder”.

Garry Jacobs, Amministratore Delegato dell’Accademia Mondiale delle Arti e delle Scienze.

Una breve sintesi del suo intervento di benvenuto alla Prima Conferenza Internazionale sull’Anticipazione, a Trento, il 5 novembre 2015.

E’ stato testimone di una serie di grandiosi fallimenti nell’anticipare il futuro, come per esempio l’incapacità di Kohl e Gorbaciov di prevedere che la caduta del muro di Berlino sarebbe avvenuta pochi giorni dopo un loro incontro in cui avevamo concordano sul fatto che la riunificazione tedesca avrebbe richiesto forse una generazione.

Queste esperienze e le perorazione da parte di Roberto Poli della causa dell’anticipazione, attraverso valide e convincenti argomentazioni lo hanno convinto dell’importanza delle tecniche previsionali, anche per coloro che aspirano a realizzare futuri irrealizzati e inespressi.
Jacobs sostiene che questo cambiamento paradigmatico potrebbe avere una portata immensa per la comprensione del mondo umano e si augura che il convegno “cambierà i nostri schemi mentali e ripristinerà completamente il fattore soggettivo in questa disciplina, così come altrove”.
A suo parere “ciò che riunisce due forze apparentemente inconciliabili è anche ciò che fa scattare l’innovazione e la creatività”, e questo è ciò di cui abbisogna il settore dell’istruzione.
Aggiunge un’osservazione antropologica davvero perspicace: “Gli esseri umani non si comportano come tutti gli altri animali. Un singolo uomo o una singola donna possono cambiare la storia di un’intera specie, partendo da una visione, un’aspirazione, la potenza di un’idea non ancora realizzata”.
Questo perché i valori sono intangibili eppure sono i motori più profondi della storia, esercitando un’influenza inesorabile sui nostri pensieri e azioni.
Le incognite inconoscibili non preoccupano Jacobs: “Senza incertezze non ci sarebbero possibilità da esplorare e responsabilità di cui farsi carico”.