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I am on the Strategic Foresight team at Autodesk. The Strategic Foresight team informs long-term decision-making by anticipating what might happen so the company and our customers can navigate change, seize opportunities, and mitigate risk. We apply foresight techniques such as horizon and environment scanning, emerging issues analyses, scenario-building methods like four archetypes, Shell approach, and 2x2 Matrix, and scenario immersion and wind tunneling that help turn scenarios into strategy. We can't predict the future but only help prepare the company for possible futures.
Upgrade, by Blake Crough, tells the tale of Logan Ramsey, a field agent for the Genetic Protection Agency, whose DNA is upgraded by a gene-modifying virus. It's a combination science fiction/detective story that asks the question, "What does it mean to be human?" As a member of a team that speculates about the future, I find books like Upgrade enjoyable from a story perspective but also because they offer a glimpse into possible futures.
Autodesk makes software for those who make the world around us. Upgrade is indeed set in the future; however, with the invention of CRISPR (a technology that can be used to edit genes) in 1987, modifying DNA is not what makes it seem futuristic. What anchors the story ahead of our time are some of the places, things, and modes of transportation that will be designed and made by existing or future Autodesk customers.
- Half-mile high mega-tall office towers with glass-enclosed one-acre courtyards
- "The Metaframe" - a supertall hotel built in the shape of a 1000-meter picture frame with a continuous projection of imagery
- "Blue Earth - an immense sphere that glitters like a disco ball as a shining replica of the Earth"
- Quantum computers with powerful internet search engines that return desirable results
- Ubiquitous farms of 1000-meter wind turbines
- Nightshades that provide full vision with only ambient light
- Fire doors that automatically unlock when detecting temperature changes from an approaching human on the inside
- Sunglasses containing optical display frames that collect/transmit relevant information from/about the wearer's environment
- Holographic water fountains and digital water features
- Synthetic proteins to supplement humanity's food supply
- Drones with heat sensors to help locate people inside buildings
- Biometric sensors that accurately reveal if someone is being truthful
- Machinery for building human hearts out of artificial jellyfish for transplant patients
Modes of Transportation
- Mass transit by Virgin Glideways Hyperloop and air travel by super-sonic hyper jet
- "Porshe 911E extended range throwback electric vehicle with a quad-motor chassis that can do 0 to 60 mph in 0.9 seconds [oh yeah!] with a range of 1,000 miles on a full charge"
- Widespread use of self-driving delivery vehicles
- Electric vehicle batteries that can hold charges for six months
- "Billionaires celebrating Christmas morning in low-Earth orbit"
At Autodesk, we are inspired by the prospect of a better world designed and made for all. Our mission is to empower innovators with design and make technology so they can achieve the new possible. To do that, we deliver customers intuitive, powerful, and accessible technology that provides automation and insight for their design and make processes, enabling them to achieve better outcomes for their products, their businesses, and the world. Here's to a future that includes such wonderous things for humans, now and forever.
Looking forward to the future is alive in the lab.