• Eye Opening
  • Visionary
  • Concrete Examples


It’s easy to postpone for tomorrow what’s not an emergency today, but people and organizations could prevent so much misery in the future by preparing in the present. Alas, humans have forgotten how to use their “tools of foresight.” Author and futurist Bina Venkataraman inherited a family heirloom: an antique musical instrument. She safeguards it to give to her future descendants, and it’s that same sense of guardianship, she argues, that should guide people’s actions today on behalf of future generations. 


Pervasive short-term thinking endangers the future.

People and societies obsess over the present to the detriment of the future. For instance, businesses make decisions based on immediate profits without regard to strategies for the future. Governments respond to today’s needs and markets without conserving fisheries or farmlands for future generations.

The human brain has an extraordinary capacity for “mental time travel” – that is, to remember the past, experience the present and imagine the future. Alas, humans aren’t leveraging their power of foresight.

Three common errors – measuring the wrong things, rewarding the wrong outcomes and failing to imagine possible futures – impede foresight.

Individuals, businesses and communities are all guilty of those

About the Speaker

Futurist Bina Venkataraman is the author of The Optimist’s Telescope. She is the director of global policy initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

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