Our time is tainted by a sense of a series of global crises piling up on the ruins they ignite. It seems wherever you look, the period of normal is ending. While we tend to perceive these crises as parallel developments, they cannot be meaningfully understood separately; instead, we should think of them as one. Seeing them as one changes our approach from predicting what is next and from solving problems as they come to that of imagination. This is why the future is untitled. We, however, can name it by refusing to go back to normal, imagining the unimagined, and experimenting together.

The early 2020s are characterized by an abundance of interpretations of a transformation: the transformations we talk about include such phenomena as’ the crisis of capitalism ’,’ post-capitalism ’, and’ surveillance capitalism ’as well as’ digital transformation’, ’ exponential technologies’, and ’ the 4th industrial revolution ’ along with ’the decline of democracy’, ’the crisis of liberalism’, ’ post-truth politics ’,’ meritocratic autocracy ’,’ self-organization ’,’ inner transformations’, and ’awakening to holistic consciousness’.

Parallel to these phenomena, we are witnessing a ’climate crisis’, an ’ecosystems collapse’, ’ the sixth wave of mass extinction ’, and the emergence of ’ anthropocene ’ that require us to move towards ’decarbonisation’, ’ecological rebuilding’ , a ’ post-fossil era ’, or even ’ deep adaptation ’ and ’posthumanism’ .

These well-known theories, visions, or ideologies each explain the dynamics, logic, risks, and opportunities within one parallel transformation: after capitalism (and post-capitalism) comes a data-driven planning economy (or even a fully automated luxury communism) ; after liberalism comes a meritocratic autocracy, and so forth. But these perspectives are fundamentally flawed ways of looking at the future.

The theories on transformations get their meanings from the structures of this passing era, as if everything around the issue undergoing transformation would remain largely intact. We are often prisoners of what we aim to leave behind. Therefore, theories lose their ability to predict the future of society as their fundamental premises on society, behavior, economics, and institutions change.

Instead, if we start looking at all these transformations as one, we are faced with a phenomenon of a different magnitude altogether.

As a result, two things follow: 

  1. Many old categories are disappearing and new ones are emerging. This development has taken place before: we tend to use concepts such as ’a nation’, ’a worker’, ’science’, and ’money’ as if these categories had always existed. In reality, they were all once conceptual innovations, the results of previous historical transformations. It is safe to assume that what we are experiencing right now changes the fundamentals of how we see ourselves as human beings. In some sense, the material, social, economic, and technological transformations are piling up to an ontological transformation.
  2. We lack the images, names, and ways to think about a world that has been thoroughly transformed. Instead of depicting the mechanics of each transformation, we should focus on imagination and on the unimaginable . Transformation hints at something that already exists taking a new form. However, that is not the case in ontological transformations where many entirely new things emerge.

UNTITLED refers to our inability to name and explain what the world and humanity are beyond this one great transformation. We don’t have a clear image of the world that we wish to reach nor of now of the essential steps needed to get there. Thus, we must first abandon many prevailing assumptions that limit the possibilities of what we can be as humans, what kind of institutions we can form, what types of practices to adopt, and how we can interact.

To value the depth of change we are in, we need to stop pretending that we have the answers and know the future. Instead of answers, we need a place, a space, and a process for unfolding what is not here yet. There are numerous, wonderful examples of imagination on Futures that we wish to happen, and a lot of people are imagining such futures. Now, we have to bring them together.

UNTITLED is a space for different imaginations: a place for people who have seen a glimpse of a transformation – that is, who have understood that there is no return to normal – to come together and to build on each other’s imaginations. It is also a place to expand their view on the Untitled future together with the help of experiments.

Art and the avant-garde play a key role in all societal transformations. At Untitled, art’s role is not to raise awareness of the crisis we are in, nor to provide solutions or to criticize, but to enable us to imagine and empower us to experiment. In short, art’s role is to help us see the difference between what is, and what can be.

UNTITLED is a ten-year-long process of unfolding the new world – an experiment in creating an alternative narrative of the metamorphosis we are in. It is driven by an eagerness to go deeper than to the change at hand; to start exploring new ways of living, producing, and caring; and to do it at a scale unforeseen to our generation. We believe that a genuinely new story can emerge through an unlikely alliance coming together to imagine new concepts, to make them tangible, and to learn from them through real world experiments.

UNTITLED proposes a very specific process. In our view:

  • We need to refuse the normal. The world we inhabit is far from desirable. There is no steady and safe normal to go back to but a very unsustainable way of life instead. Any attempt to go back will fail as we’ll fall again soon. Besides, none of the individual solutions currently on the table (in politics, in technology, in business, in personal development) work as a magic bullet; hence, we have to refuse seeking a way forward in the framework of these incumbent discourses.
  • We need to imagine the unimaginable in two senses: we have to imagine things that have not been imagined yet, and we will have to reimagine things that we thought cannot be reimagined. Yet, imagination has to be taken seriously and it has to start from the physical limits that constrain our future – now importantly the planetary boundaries and the existential threats caused by overstepping them. Having limits does not mean that there would be less room for imagination: in reality, limits and boundaries are viable tools for creativity.
  • Yet, we wouldn’t just fantasize and fall for a utopia. Humans are notoriously bad at seeing things in the long-term, and even worse at shaping their actions accordingly. Therefore, instead of betting on the future and competing in guessing what the future is like, we need to try the unimagined, to expand our imagination with experiments that produce new information about the world, and thus liberate us from the need to pretend to know and to be right about what will work and what will not. Experiments create artefacts, learnings, and shared experiences that lay the foundations to a meaningful dialogue and a collaboration for the future.

The first Untitled festival, held on September 17th-18th, brought together over 400 people from 30 countries to collectively reimagine the society and set the agenda for the most important experiments. This was done with the help of conversations, co-creation, art, embodied and social exercises, and the celebration of the possibility of the next era. This eclectic selection of practices highlights the fact that there is no supreme method for imagining Untitled Futures: facts, reasoning, and clever arguments have a limited scope: they cannot help us in reaching for things that lack concepts and previous examples.

Untitled festival also increased the gravity of a number of real-life experiments. We find both the diversity of the experimentalists as well the experiments are promising. Here are a few examples:

  • An activist investor aiming to explore the “flip” of the entire property industry, through the creation of the world’s most sustainable buildings
  • A think tank and do tank is going to reimagine the democratic process by breaking out of the traditional governmental pattern of “decide, do, defend”.
  • The housing (first) company is experimenting with redefining housing as a part of basic income and sustainable living in a city.
  • A research and development community is launching four experiments on the public sector transformation through distributed technology.
  • A group of activists is developing the “Transcultural Republic of Nodes” to reimagine the nation-state.
  • A social enterprise is setting out to deliver a 12-month experiment to pilot a completely reimagined accelerator program allowing entrepreneurs to change capitalism from within.
  • A climate innovation community is set to experiment with a model for nurturing urban nature as public infrastructure.

Usually, at similar events, there are the questions: “What next? What should we do? What happens when you go home? ”

For Untitled, the festival was the starting point for the next ten years.

In this way, Untitled is like a collision in a particle accelerator: the unlikely event in which immense amounts of energy are released and new worlds can unfold.

We are that collision.

The power of this congregation has released increased gravity. This gravity is pulling new coalitions and building unlikely alliances around the real-life experiments launched at the inaugural Untitled festival, accelerating these first glimpses through the ten-year process of Untitled.

The movement for a guaranteed income offers a way to reimagine work, deservedness and dignity. What would the world look like after an income floor? Let’s compare notes on the movement for a guaranteed Income in different countries, and look for signals together of what a world after guaranteed income would look like. A network of academics, activists, artists and culture Creators are needed to make a guaranteed income a reality.

Natalie Foster is one of the leaders in the guaranteed income movement in the United States, and her team at the Economic Security Project has been working hard to make sure a COVID19 guaranteed income is part of the US response to the economic and health crisis.

Natalie is the co-chair and co-founder of the Economic Security Project – a network to support exploration and experimentation of a guaranteed income and reining in the unprecedented concentration of corporate power, and a senior fellow at The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative. In 2013, Natalie was founding CEO of Peers.org to support people who work in the gig economy. Prior, she was the CEO and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for people-driven economic change, with Van Jones. Previously, Natalie served as digital director for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee. Natalie built the first digital department at the Sierra Club and served as the Deputy organizing director for MoveOn.org.She’s been awarded Fellowships at the Institute for the Future, Rockwood Leadership Institute and New America California, and is a board member of the California Budget and Policy Center, the Change.org global foundation, and Liberation in a Generation, a project to close the racial wealth gap. Bio Source – Economic Security Project

Website: https://www.economicsecurityproject.org/

Photo: Natalie Foster (c)

Blockchain technologies are claimed to make it possible to develop and implement social technologies that can replace existing social apparatuses of public governance. This could mean for example implementing autonomous executing administration in public governance or building a governance system based on direct democracy – or conversely, distributed autonomous organizations outside public power taking over similar tasks. 

In this conversation we explore a future where by scaling different distributed ledger technology solutions  replace current public organisations and processes.  What kind of impact would it have on democracy, public services and on our societies at large?  Would this be a desirable direction to develop our public administration? Can technological solutions be a substitute for institutional trust? 

Launched in January 2020, TOKEN (Transformative Impact Of Blockchain Technologies in Public Services) is an EU funded project whose ultimate goal is to develop an experimental ecosystem to enable the adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology and to prove its value, via highly replicable Use Cases, as a driver for the transformation of public services. TOKEN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement No. 825268. 

Twitter handle(s): @TOKEN_EU

Website: https://token-project.eu/

How we think about the future determines how we act today. For a long time, the prevailing belief has been that we are living in the age of TINA – T here I s N o A lternative. However, the rise of populism, Fridays for the Future and, more recently, the coronavirus crisis, are only the most recent developments to demonstrate that a vivid competition about alternative Futures has begun.

In this conversation, we will reflect upon different conceptions of the future – from progressivism to collapsology – and think about why and how we should include future generations in today’s policy making.

The conversation will be Hosted by Paulina Fröhlich, Head of the Program “Future of Democracy” at Progressives Zentrum, and Paul Jürgensen, Project Manager at Progressives Zentrum. Das Progressives Zentrum is a Berlin-based, non-profit think tank devoted to promoting effective policies for social progress.

Twitter: @PaulinaFrohlich , @pauljuergensen , @DPZ_Berlin

Website: progressives-zentrum.org

George Zisiadis and Adam Cronkright are the co-coordinators at of by for  and their mission is to get beyond parties and politicians, putting everyday people in front and center. In this discussion, George and Adam will share more about their new vision to replace partisan elections with democratic lotteries. This is a vision now you haven’t heard of yet. But it’s rooted in ancient Athenian democracy, and is re-emerging in the Lottery-drawn Citizens’ Assemblies that are shaping politics around the world.
Participants are invited to partake in small group discussions in breakout rooms, to ask questions, and to share both what excites them and what they’d like to know more about regarding democratic lotteries.
Adam Cronkright is on the Coordinating Committee for Democracy R&D, a network of close to 40 organizations advancing democratic Lotteries in 18 countries around the world.
Before dedicating himself to of by for , Adam co-founded Democracy In Practice , whose work reinventing student government with democratic Lotteries was a finalist for the Council of Europe 2016 Democracy Innovation Award. Democracy in Practice’s work was recently featured on Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. Adam was Deeply involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan, and Deeply immersed in the peaceful grassroots’ Uprising that toppled an unpopular government in Bolivia in 2019.
George Zisiadis is an artist and designer who leads large, complex projects that speak to People’s hearts. His site-specific public artwork, utilizing the latest technologies, has reimagined San Francisco’s most iconic public spaces – including the Civic Center and Grace Cathedral – and consistently moved people of all ages and backgrounds. His work has been featured in TIME, NPR, WIRED, FastCompany, and more. Two years ago he set aside his art practice to dedicate himself to the study of social movements from past to present

Twitter: @adamcronkright
Website: joinofbyfor.us

Related Untitled Agenda Themes : Reimagining power, Reimagining the contract

Photos: Adam Cronkright and George Zisiadis, joinofbyfor.us (c)

Imagine a society where government operations are totally transparent and processes traceable. Distributed Ledger Technology  (DLT), such as blockchain, is scaling upwards in public administration and is claimed to offer new radical possibilities to increase transparency and efficiency, while decreasing bureaucracy in public operations.

Will we have the ability to identify and monitor all the information and events associated with public policies? How would it affect people, governments and civil servants or institutional trust in the societies? During the conversation we will explore the possibilities, challenges and risks of transparency and traceability in public governance. 

The impact of transparency is tested through four experiments run by the TOKEN project, where public organisations are implementing DLT-based solutions in their services such as public grant distribution, mobility, smart city services and public procurement. 

Launched in January 2020, TOKEN – Transformative Impact of Blockchain Technologies in Public Services – is an EU funded project whose ultimate goal is to develop an experimental ecosystem to enable the adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology and to prove its value, via highly replicable Use Cases, as a driver for the transformation of public services. TOKEN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement No. 825268. 

 

Twitter handle: @TOKEN_EU
Website: token-project.eu

Related Untitled Agenda Theme: Reimagining power

 

Image: TOKEN, token-project.eu

This conversation reimagines models of data ownership: Who has a say on how data is used, collected and made available for others to use? For citizens, companies and NGOs alike, how can we ensure that the data produced by them and about themselves is used in a way that they desire? And what are the consequences of moving away from extractivist data practices, towards an era of data agency?

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and the immutability of the transactions they record offer one possible tool to move forwards: models of data ownership and especially the effects of transparency are explored in four experiments run by Token project, where public organisations are implementing DLT-based solutions in their services such as public grant distribution, mobility, smart city services and public procurement. 

Launched in January 2020, TOKEN (Transformative Impact Of BlocKchain tEchnologies iN Public Services) is an EU funded project. Its ultimate goal is to develop an experimental ecosystem enabling the adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology and to prove its value as a driver for the transformation of public services, via highly replicable Use Cases. TOKEN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement No. 825268. 

Twitter handle: @TOKEN_EU
Website: token-project.eu

Related Untitled Agenda Theme: Reimagining power, Reimagining the contract

 

Image: TOKEN, token-project.eu

The multiple, overlapping crises of 2020 have magnified the deep fractures at the heart of our social and political orders, both within countries and across borders. There are now countless working groups, task forces, and commissions to “build back better” and to reimagine our world anew. But the truth is these efforts are led by those who least understand the pain of injustice and the trauma of broken systems. To reimagine our world, we must center the voices and imaginations of those who have long suffered. This requires those with power to reckon with their privilege, and to understand their complicity in sustaining this broken world. Only by doing that can we help right historical wrongs and realize a future where all can thrive. 

Understanding the fights we should fight and the roles we should play requires understanding the elements that comprise our identity (personal and professional) — and how they are constructed or sustained within structures of oppression. This is deep, personal, searching work, and it’s not easy.

But in this session we will create a safe space to do this together, and will respect wherever you are in the process. So whether you want to actively participate, or just to listen, we welcome you and celebrate your willingness to do this work. 

This conversation is for anyone invested in a future where all humans can lead dignified, joyous lives, and especially recommended for those in positions to shape our world—from the hyperlocal to the transnational levels. We are in a period of righteous reckoning, and the tensions playing out in 2020 will only continue to grow in momentum. Those with privilege must be true allies and accomplices in revolutionary transformation. 

Panthea Lee is the Executive Director of Reboot. She is passionate about driving unlikely collaborations between communities, activists, movements, and institutions to tackle structural inequity—and working with cultural institutions to build momentum for courageous change.

Panthea has led multi-stakeholder processes to tackle social challenges in 30+ countries. Her work has been featured in Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, New York Times, MIT Innovations Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review. She serves on the boards of Development Gateway and People Powered: The Global Hub for Participatory Democracy. 

 

Twitter handles: @PantheaLee @theReboot
Website: www.reboot.org

Related Untitled Agenda Theme: Reimagining power

 

Photo: Panthea Lee, reboot.org

As the world becomes more interconnected than ever, slow adopters of collaborative problem-solving techniques run the risk of being left behind. By 2050, seventy percent of the world’s population will live in an urban corridor. With the confluence of population growth and the desire to live in urban corridors, there is an increased risk for vulnerable populations with the need for new, rapid development to accommodate growing communities. These populations can be supported by centering equity in the work.

Implementing an Equity Framework necessitates the understanding of equity, the practice of institutional assessment and the intention to address structural inequities because of systemic racism.

  • Equity means fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all people. It requires the purposeful identification and elimination of barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups.
  • Institutional Racial Equity assessments tease out tangible practices demonstrating adherence to principles and behaviors which foster systemic shifts in organizational culture. These lead to the cultivation of cross functional teams that outperform homogeneous ones.
  • Structural Racism is a system of beliefs and practices that, through omission or commission, move people to perpetuate damages against marginalized groups whether or not they intend to. Its foundation consists of social, economic, and political paradigms that require systemic thrusts to move institutions from optimization to cultivation of ecosystems, with human beings at the center.

The proposed ecosystems model seeks to promote racial equity analysis through the creation of new experiences within institutions, leaders, managers, staff, and customers. These would lead changes through innovation and producing viable wireframes that are agile and iterative. We believe that fostering ecosystems will lead to a shift from traditional systems to change models to co-designed models based on a Human Centered Design approach. Organizational and institutional leadership should be particularly involved in experimenting with this idea of ​​re-creating an anti-racist world.

Fred W. Brown Jr. is President & CEO of The Forbes Funds [TFF], a philanthropic organization focused in strengthening the management capacity and impact of community non-profits in the Pittsburgh area. The Forbes Funds (TFF) has a 35 year history of advancing well-being by helping human services and community-based non-profits build their management capacity, increasing the impact of their mission work.

In 2020, The Forbes Funds’ board approved a racial justice equity framework for all of TFF’s work. This framework includes investing in diverse leadership, increasing the capacity of minority-led organizations, and developing scenario planning and collaborative capacity of organizations within the region. Since the onset of COVID-19, TFF has held nearly 1,000 virtual meetings and engaged nearly 11,000 individuals in the region and across the state, Nation, and globe.

 

Twitter handle: @FredBrownPgh   @TheForbesFunds
Website:  https://forbesfunds.org/

Related UNTITLED Agenda Theme: REIMAGINING human, REIMAGINING power

 

Photo: Fred W. Brown Jr., twitter.com/fredbrownpgh

The concept of innovation is still deeply associated with technological innovation as motor for societal progress, emerging out of a competition of ideas. But is it possible to shift this perspective to social innovation, a process of learning collaboratively how to live better together? How might we involve mainstream stakeholders in the process of turning innovation to a public level in order to build dedicated infrastructures, and make it more accessible by communities?

Björn Müller @bjObj0
Co-founder and manager at STRIDE the unSchool,
an education provider and think tank supporting individuals, organisations and cities to turn social innovation into a transformative process of learning, stride-learning.ch

 

What could be reimagined now?

At the moment, we witness at the same time too much and not enough novelty. On one hand, there’s a whole infrastructure, from incubators to accelerators and competitions, dedicated to bringing innovation at a global level. But on the other hand, the fundamental issues and problems for which the world is suffering are not addressed, therefore we don’t see any concrete and deep change.

For this reason social innovation seems to be an opportunity. Is there a space or infrastructure to do social innovation across different sectors, not confining it to any sector?

How could we experiment with innovation as such?

Everything starts with challenging a very modern way of understanding innovation which is tied to the idea of continuous growth. This is coupled with the belief that a good life is reached by ever-increasing access and range into the world, making life as easy and fast as possible. Conversely, innovation can deal with a much more life-affirming side, based on participatory and collaborative aspects, putting life at the center, for example in our political, economical and social agendas.

How could social innovation be supported and look like in ten years’ time?

We can imagine a world where social innovation could be publicly supported by states and therefore having the chance to launch social experiments and endeavors at a different scale. Mainstream actors could be involved in shifting their orientation or innovation efforts to contribute in building a sustainable and meaningful lifestyle. In doing so, it is also possible to move away from the concept that makes innovation revolve just around technology. Innovation could then reconnect to its Enlightenment roots, turning it into a force of bettering (quality of) life for all.

 

Image: Björn Müller, twitter.com/bjObj0