the art of anticipation

the rise of prediction as a paradigm for analysis and governance is one of the key challenges across Europe’s societies.

interest in prediction continues to grow as predictive analytics informs resource allocation and improves planning across private and public sectors (predictive logistics, predictive maintenance, predictive policing).

as such systems mature far beyond the capacities ascribed to them in an earlier generation of foresight research, their power (as ubiquitous systems) expands to encompass the prediction of human behavior more generally.

if we want to rely on autonomous systems that can learn, we need to know much more about how to build institutions and organizations that learn.

otherwise, machine intelligence will not fully benefit human intelligence in key areas of life and labor.



"Today our problem lies - it seems - in the fact that we do not yet have ready narratives not only for the future, but even for a concrete now, for the ultra-rapid transformations of today’s world. We lack the language, we lack the points of view, the metaphors, the myths and new fables. Yet we do see frequent attempts to harness rusty, anachronistic narratives that cannot fit the future to imaginaries of the future, no doubt on the assumption that an old something is better than a new nothing, or trying in this way to deal with the limitations of our own horizons. In a word, we lack new ways of telling the story of the world." (Olga Tokarczuk)

"Words matter: we need a new vocabulary for policymaking. Policy is not just about 'intervening'. It is about shaping a different future: co-creating markets and value, not just 'fixing' markets or redistributing value. It's about taking risks, not only 'de-risking'. And it must not be about levelling the playing field but about tilting it toward the kind of economy we want." (Mariana Mazzucato)

"​A​ttempts at purposive action are embedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations." (​Mark ​Granovetter)

"Intelligence, as distinct from the older conception of reason, is inherently involved in action. ... In its large sense, this remaking of the old through the union with the new is precisely what intelligence is. It is this conversion of past experience into knowledge in ideas and purposes that anticipate what may come to be in the future and that indicate how to realize what is desired. ... Is there … any intelligent way of modifying the future except to attend to the full possibilities of the present?” (John Dewey)

“One needs an ontology of the not-yet.” (Roberto Poli)

“One defining quality of our current moment is its characteristic state of anticipation, of thinking and living toward the future. Anticipation is the palpable sense that things could be (all) right if we leverage new spaces of opportunity, reconfiguring ‘the possible.’” The future is always knowable in new ways, even as the grasping for certainty about it remains persistent. Few, however, question whether or not ‘the future’ can, and therefore must, be anticipated. ... Anticipation, as a lived condition or orientation, gives speculation the authority to act in the present.” (Vincanne Adams, Michelle Murphy, Adele E. Clarke)

“The stories we tell about the future, including our future selves, must be open, multi-linear, and multidimensional in order to avoid anticipatory backshadowing, which forecasts the future as a continuation of the past and present.” (Genevieve Lively)

“Anticipation has a risky dark side: systemically sidestepping, suppressing, or distracting from inconvenient knowledge, while promoting more “digestible” mainstream visions, scenarios, and trends, makes blind for emerging signals, and undermines the capacity of organizations and institutions to react and plan effectively in critical situations.” (Georgios Kolliarakis)

“Anticipation or prediction is generally assumed to be based on some sort of representation.... However, there is a more basic form of anticipation that does not require representation, but is, in fact, constitutive of representation.” (Mark H. Bickhard )

“The five futures senses of memory, foresight, voice, optimism, and yearning ... account for the sense-making processes that occur within human systems. A clearer appreciation for such senses will enrich foresight practice and the theory of anticipation.” (Marcus Bussey)

“Instead of wondering about the nature of robots, as if our thinking about humans was stable and straightforward, we should dig deeper in thinking about how we think about humans. ... Embracing the relational self, instead of the rational subject, allows to grasp the dynamics between control, orientation, and recognition and to understand how human freedom flows from this dynamics” (Nicole Dewandre).

"The problem of intelligence can no longer be limited to psychology, biology, and cybernetics. It must become a central philosophical concept once again. ... The challenge is to invent a community with machines together, even when we share nothing in common with them. Never will there be a community of machines." (Catherine Malabou)

"We both suffer and benefit from the realization that humans are no longer the only symbolic cognizers on the planet, and indeed not necessarily the most powerful." (N. Katherine Hayles)