BOOK: The Future Starts Now by Priestley and Williams

The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights into the Future of Business, Technology and Society
Theo Priestley and Bronwyn Williams, Bloomsbury Business, 2021

With a huge focus on change and turmoil as a result of the pandemic, the timing of this book could not be better. “Never before has the pace of change been so fast and yet it will never again be so slow,” Darren Roos, CEO of enterprise software firm, IFS writes in his forward to The Future Starts Now. “It shone a spotlight on the socio-economic divide, differing political value systems, growing nationalism, and climate change but most of all, it highlighted the speed with which the world can change. No longer can we reflect on the future as a point in time that may never arrive.”

In this fascinating multi-contributor book, editors Priestley and Williams sought to go further than the usual visions of the future (which they point out are either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic) and instead focus on the power to change “the future of the future” to one that works for more of us.

To explore these themes, the editors selected a group of futurists from all over the world to get readers thinking about the futures they don’t want to live in, as well as those they want to create, suggesting a number of actionable solutions that can be implemented now to help to get ourselves, our businesses and our societies there. The book’s five parts include essays on information technology and policy, artificial intelligence, economic strategy, education, robots, psychology and longevity.

Theo Priestley is a globally recognised futurist and international speaker and author on the future of business, technology and society. He has delivered keynotes at an array of conferences and corporate events, and is a contributor to Forbes and Wired. Bronwyn Williams is a leading futurist and trend analyst. A TEDx fellow, writer and frequent media commentator. She has presented and consulted to businesses, governments and academic institutions across Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Priestley and Williams’ core proposition is that the entire notion of predicting a specific, deterministic future is flawed from the get-go and that “most people who try end up being embarrassingly wrong”.

Instead we should be “mapping out a plethora of potential futures precisely so that we may do battle, here in the present, to encourage the good outcomes and deter the bad ones”.

The parallels with organisational resilience are striking. So, too, are those with forward-looking insurers underwriting the new risks that progress inevitably brings about. I will therefore boldly predict that Bloomsbury’s latest book will be popular with readers from across the entire business risk spectrum.

Somewhat poetically, this book is not yet available, but it will be in April, when it is published in hardback and ebook formats in the UK; and in June in the US.

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