INCASTING: Exploring Possible Alternative
as developed at the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies
uses a foresight technique called incasting:thinking up the
specific details of a possible future based on a more general
scenario description. Incasting begins with an array of possible
futures: several different scenarios, all based on observed
trends and emerging issues in society, the economy, technological
innovation, the environment, and political activity. Descriptions
of five different POSSIBLE futures have been distributed. You
and your working group have been assigned ONE of those scenarios.
USING SCENARIOS for this exercise, it is important that you
suspend your disbelief. Do not ask HOW this scenario came to
exist; do not question its fundamental assumptions: you have
awakened to find yourself living in it. What is your life
group should designate one person to act as your group’s recorder
the characteristics of this scenario, and following the rule
of logical consistency, what would the following be like in
activities [what do people do for fun?]
[what skills or substantive knowledge do people need most,
how is that passed from one generation to the next?]
[what would be illegal given the values and perspectives of
your findings as a series of headlines in the news media appropriate
to this future [and tell us how news gets disseminated].
what political controversies, international events, critical
issues, awards, celebrations, sports events, and other newsworthy
items might occur in this future. Take details to their logical,
if extreme, conclusions. Remember that some traditional activities,
offices, organizations, and lifestyles may disappear entirely
in your scenario. Some lifestyles and activities may be transformed,
existing in this future in an entirely new form. And this future
may compel the creation of entirely new offices, services, businesses,
schools, and activities. Exceed the boundaries of the present
wherever it seems logical given the context of the scenario:
your suggestions only need to be logically consistent with the
assumptions of the scenario.
prepared to present your headlines and cartoons to the group
as a whole.
Continued Growth Future
Growth” describes a future in which the global economic system
becomes more and more efficient and effective at mass production,
distribution and marketing: the extreme outgrowth of the
global mass media/ consumption trends.
‘80’s and ‘90s saw increasing privatization of government services,
in an attempt to cut back on government spending and the federal
deficit. “Education Alternatives, Inc.” was brought to
court in 2012 on charges of monopolizing the primary and secondary
educational sector. The Fortune 500 added so many employee
amenities to to their benefits packages that corporate citizenship
became more important than country of origin. The result
was the growth of the corporate-nation-states, and global market
integration and homogenization. Technological innovations
in 2023 go swiftly from lab to production line to market, and
global market saturation time for new consumer products has
dropped to less than one year. The rich and the poor have
better access to more goods, and the elite are now those who
command the corporations’ executive privileges. Environmental
preservation occurs only insofar as it maintains comparative
Decline and Collapse Future
and Collapse” describes a future of global breakdown:
economic, political, and environmental.”
depression in 2001 generated by the instabilities of over-heated
Asian and American stock markets , and triggered by the havoc
the “Year 2000 problem” wrought on the international financial
communications links, caused the collapse of the international
economic system. This collapse was made worse by terrorism,
regional wars and border skirmishes, and environmental problems.
Technological systems and communications links never fully
recovered from the Y2K glitch -- and the attendant “quick fix”
patches that many desperate systems administrators attempted;
international production and distribution of goods collapsed,
as many of the automated resource, inventory, and tracking systems
had sufferered their own Y2K snafus; and the internal distribution
of needed goods and basic services also collapsed in many countries.
Countries became more isolated from each other, and communities
became isolated within countries. By 2023, we have seen
the return of city-states, urban tribal systems, war clans,
and roving bands of refugee nomads on both land and sea.
Sustainable Development Future
scenario, sometimes called the “Green Future,” or “Conserver
Society,” emerges from the growth of environmental values and
ecological concerns worldwide.
environmental changes witnessed around the globe in the late
nineties and early aughts shifted values everywhere away from
materialism, and toward an intense respect for the environment.
This respect translated into the use of appropriate technologies,
the development of environmentally-friendly high technologies,
and the resurrection of traditional modes of relating respectfully
to nature. The cascade of application breakthroughs in
the 2010s in genetic engineering and biotechnology allowed advanced
bioremediation of polluted areas and the beginning of re-establishment
for endangered and extinct species, although even by 2023 only
a fraction of the needed ecological repairs had been made.
More and more human communities scaled down from metropolises
to towns. Socialization in the 2020s stresses self-sufficiency,
re-use of material goods, targetted, high-efficiency use of
resources, and nurturing the biosphere. As a result of
the shift away from materialism, a much higher value is now
placed on learning and the arts.
Disciplined Society Future
“Disciplined Society”emerges from worldwide trends in political
extremism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, and fundamentalism.
of the millennium seemed to excite political extremists, terrorists,
nationalists, and religious fundamentalists all over the world
into a “now or never” fever of activity: all over the
world, conservative nationalists seized power in provinces,
states, countries. Societies became more and more conservative
in the face of rapid change to which none of their populations,
seemingly, could adjust comfortably. In reaction to future
shock, people became more and more focussed on traditional mores
and modes of life during the aughts and teens of the new century.
Only a very narrow range of behaviors, beliefs, and political
ideologies are considered acceptable in places where the ethno-fundamentalists
now hold power. Art and expressive communication are cramped
and censored to support political and philosophical regimes.
Control of production became concentrated in the hands of a
few charismatic leaders who hobble economic action with political
rules. Societies in 2023 are not poor -- people’s basic
needs are more often met than in the past -- but the inefficiencies
in production, though they slow resource use, are not particularly
kind to the environment.
High Technology Transformational Future
Technology Transformation” assumes that the innovations on the
horizon in the late 90s have flowered into a variety of applications,
both commercial and personal, that completely overturn our concepts
has triumphed! Advances in energy production, such as
cheap fusion power and zero-point energy, give the world clean,
abundant supplies of energy. Advances in robotics, artificial
intelligence, and nanotechnologies, give humanity very precise,
automated control over all of our environments. Advances
in genetic engineering and the biological sciences give us very
precise control over our bodies, and our definitions of who
and what we are: cosmetic sculpting of one’s appearance
and basic bodily structure are possible with targetted DNA injections.
Advances in telecommunications, such as high-definition, multi-sense
holography and virtual reality, let us create versions of our
inner visions and fantasies so real many people have ceased
to interact with “real” social reality. International
data and telecommunications networks have expanded so that everyone
now freely shares information and opinions: regional and
global direct democracies are the most common form of governance.
As for the environment, respect for the environment is just
part of rational environmental management -- which is handled
mostly by the artificial intelligences anyway.