The AC-UNU Millennium Project: A bootstrap perspective
Peter Yim. 1.*
- unedited transcript -
.as Doug mentioned I'm in a fairly unique position because I've spent the last there years or so with the Millennium Project and also I've spent over a year with Doug, in person, now. With Doug, it goes way back. I remember it was the end of the 1980's. I was working on my own company. I ran a manufacturing operation with a fairly strategic outlook. And I was going into computive integrated manufacturing. And soon enough, I found that we were dealing with a lot of transaction processes that needs automation, that could be integrated, but did not cover a lot of the aspects that human interaction engaging in.
And there I had a chance to read about Doug. And I believe the first
book that I came across was Irene Greif's CSCW's Book of Readings, and
the first paper there was B. Bush as we were thinking. And the next four
papers were Doug Engelbart's; and I believe the first one that came after
that was Doug's sort of predecessor or a variant of his seminal October
1962 Air Force Report on augmenting the human intellect. I was awed; and
I said one of these days I will want to meet with this person. And through
a lot of coincidence I got to communicate with Doug-I mean, I can tell
you later in a different setting. But in through last year, working closely
with him, I come to realize more and more what he was trying to do. And
I was suggesting that the Millennium Project might be a good case where
we that could sort of see how one group has been doing things that are
fairly similar. And, at the end of this presentation, maybe I will try
to pull some parallels and provide some of my personal observations.
Just sort of a point of order, a few people came up to me and asked what were the fifteen challenges, I mea, I just put a slide on it. You can't read it here anyway.
Other people asked me what were the website URL's. There are two, I
mean, actually, they are aliases. I mean either its millennium-project.org
And the Millennium Project's purpose as stated in the 1992 visibility
study is to assist organizing futures research; update and improve global
thinking about the future; and making that thinking available for consideration
in public policy making, advanced training, public education and feedback
to create cumulative wisdom about potential futures. And, I believe it's
a wonderful example of how this one group has been harnessing the collective
intelligence of hundreds of individuals to achieve that purpose. How should
we characterize it?
I believe the Millennium Project is the first example of the globalization of futures research. Futures research is actually fairly new even in the United States. And to extend it across the world, I mean, from places like Africa, to Eastern Europe, to Latin America, to Asia this is fairly unique. It is an inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary, and international participatory think tank of about 550 futurists, scholars, and policy makers in 50 countries and, as Jerry was saying, organized in a distributed network of more than 11 nodes. I mean he said eleven, but I added one more; he didn't count the United States.
And like the Bootstrap Community, it provides a new forum, a new environment
for discourse on issues which did not seem to fall within anybody's day
job. When you really think about it, I mean, you would think the policy
maker's day job or corporate leadership, but the way our paradigm, the
way we are structured, our corporations, our law making. The entire system,
I mean is actually nobody's day job. I'll come back to this point actually
later if we have time. So, if we look at them, towards what they are doing,
then let's ask the first question: What are they trying to improve?
Or in Doug's terminology, what is their improvement vector? You could
say that they are trying to improve "Global futures thinking." And do they
have this sort of A work, B work, and C work? I mean, I'm going back to
almost everything Jerry was saying in the video just now.
In the A work they execute their research agenda, for example, like
identifying global issues, opportunities, challenges, plausible scenarios
to the year 2025, et cetera, this is planned on a yearly basis. What is
the B work? They try to organize themselves effectively to cope with their
work; and thy collect and apply futures study methodologies. And that's
how they try to improve executing that research agenda. Do they do any
C work? I would guess they do because they study how they could better
organize; and they try to improve, as Jerry was saying, I mean, getting
the mixed iteration on the futures methodology on improving the futures
Are they a NIC? Well, they network. I mean they do it via meetings,
telephone, snail mail, courier; they have a listserv and a website. Yes,
I would think they are a NIC in terms of they are a group of networked,
global outlook panelists, researchers, and policy makers. And even at times,
they are a NIC of NIC's because, I mean, Jerry was mentioning that certain
nodes have their own network environment doing--have their own research
agenda besides just trying to execute the Millennium Project research plans.
What's the knowledge process and knowledge product?
Well, one thing is they have the feedback loop. They try to leverage through feedback of findings to panelists and policy makers. Their products include like an annual State of the Future Report. They have what they call the Futures Matrix. And they have Futures Methodology Book.
This is sort of a picture of the website where they show their futures
matrix. I mean, it's kind of difficult to see. On the left, we have things
like development, questions, issues, opportunities, challenges, actions,
and scenarios. And on the top, across, we've got: demographics of human
resources, environmental changes and biodiversity, technological capacity,
governance and conflicts, international economics and wealth, and integration
of whole futures. This is one way they are presenting a fairly dynamic
view of the information, o knowledge, they are gathering. And if every
one of those sort of blue dots is clickable. And if you click into it-I
mean, for example if you do technological capacity against challenges,
you see all the challenges and answers in terms of technology answer that
they have. So are they bootstrapping?
I guess we'll have to ask Doug. But, I mean they are actually doing things that I would say would be highly synergistic. And that's why sometime in the middle of the year I had the honor to put Doug in touch with Jerry. And sometime in November last year we came to an agreement that we would try to collaborate. And that's why Jerry is showing up on video. He is actually going to be here next week. He couldn't be here this week because he's in Japan. And then, we are going to have some fairly serious meeting about ongoing collaboration. Where are the sorts of possibilities for collaboration? Like co-evolution of tools systems as well as human systems? I mean, they could definitely use a boost in technology, which is one area that some of our bootstrappers are highly interested as think about.
They are content rich and have already focused challenges into major
domains for us. The Bootstrap Community can actually isolate specific areas
to delve into as test cases for Bootstrapping. They would offer tremendous
opportunity for contribution to metaNIC's because a lot of their methodologies
would be helpful across the board for NIC's. And more pragmatically, jointly
we could tap into funding support that, possibly, neither of us alone,
could access. So, through this time maybe, I mean, now that I still have
a couple of minutes, maybe I'll express some personal observations on the
paradigms shift that Doug is calling us to go about.
First of all, I mean, I think stands out more than anything else does, bootstrapping is holistic and not sort of reductionist approach. It calls for some openness, and for a total different attitude towards sharing, that almost needs a transformation in our culture for it to thrive. It needs to be internalized. Doug sort of complains sometimes when companies come in and ask, "What can you do for us?"
In addition, he says, "You have to be doing this for yourself." I mean, I sort of draw a parallel with this on the quality movement. The Japanese were extremely successful; we see how they take quality. I was watching CNN when they talked about the last few decades, I mean, when Japan was going strong with its shipbuilding industry. The factory managers would watch the ships launch with sort of their katana, or whatever you call the knife, in hand. I mean, if the ship doesn't launch, they kill themselves. That's fairly serious about quality. We don't do it that seriously. Or, alternatively, when you internalize-I mean sometimes my kid would say he is busy, or he is sleepy or tired, or something. And, I would say, "I can't learn this for you." Or, "I can't take a nap for you." I mean that's something that they will have to do it themselves; same thing with bootstrapping-it needs to be internalized.
And, at this point, bootstrapping is still sort of, in Donald Stoke's term, in his Pasteur's Quadrant-this is a book, which critiques on the way that B. Bush has sort of isolated the research agenda into two poles of a basic research and an applied research. Doug's idea is a sort of use-inspired basic research; and again, it doesn't fall into anybody's lap.
And, lastly, it calls for action, and not just talk. So with this I will end the session. And I was told that it's time for a break, too. Thank you.
Above space serves to put hyperlinked targets at the top of the window