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Dialogue Challenges towards the Year 3000


Dialogue Challenges towards the Year 3000
1. Collapsing complex systemic concerns into a subset of priorities
2. Managing disagreement
3. Understanding complexity
4. Multi-valued logics
5. Subunderstanding and Subcomprehension
6. Failure of recognition
7. Visualization and mapping
8. Using the assembled intellectual resources
9. Database of accumulating insights
10. Extended participation
11. Potential of higher intelligence: collective intelligence vs collective stupidity?
12. Space colonization
13. Synthesis
After-thoughts: Meta-design considerations for future initiatives

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Organized (Seattle, August 2000) by the Foundation for the Future (FFF). The Humanity 3000 Symposium was preceded by two seminars in April and September 1999. The focus of these events was on the critical factors for the long-term survival of humanity, the current and proejected situation of these factors, as well as the problems and opportunities associated with these factors. The events have been extensively documented.


In his closing remarks, Walter Kistler, Presdident of the Foundation for the Future, discussed the challenge of 'management' of the response to any articulation of the challenge of the survival of humanity. It is indeed the case that our collective management ability towards this end is not of a kind to be reassuring. Nor are the prospects in this respect. But whilst I have my doubts on our ability to do better, it behooves us to test our ingenuity in seeking better responses that may prove more adequate or at least offer us insights into the possibility of responses that would be more adequate.

The following comments endeavour to reflect both on the Symposium as a laboratory experiment in social engineering and on what might be learnt from it as a contribution to the design of the next such experiment towards insightful management towards 3000. Given the links of the Foundation to the space industry and to the engineering world, a design preoccupation is a healthy one. Just as it takes sophisticated design to get a spacecraft into orbit, I would suggest that it will take an analogous degree of sophistication in design to get any collective management initiative together to be adequate to the planetary survival challenge. Old-style approaches will not necessarily work. We are all in an experimental mode to this end.

In what follows, a distinction is made between (a) the Foundation's legitimate concerns to promote the issues of long-term planetary future (and the necessary credibility of its own programs), and (b) the content, structure and process which may serve to enlighten our approach to the planetary challenge of the future. It is on the second of these that the focus is made.

A core challenge both for planetary society and for the Foundation is the management of the diversity of preoccupations and proposed strategies. There are several issues that emerged from the August Symposium experiment:

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