Info 290

Scenario Thinking for Information Economy and Society

3 units

Course Description

Many of us are interested in looking forward towards future challenges and opportunities (near, medium, and occasionally long term) of the information economy and society. But technology prognostication has a terrible track-record. And keying on worst-case and best-case possibilities is an unrealistic, inefficient, and sometimes dangerous way to generate insight. Scenario thinking is an alternate methodology, developed first by Royal Dutch Shell for use in the energy sector after the oil shocks of the 1970s and later extended more broadly to business, government, and non-profit sectors. Scenario thinking starts from the proposition that the future is unpredictable in any meaningful sense… and that it is possible instead to systematically develop a landscape of possible futures from which useful insights can be drawn, and against which strategic action can be planned. In this seminar we will learn, practice, and develop scenario thinking for the information economy and society. We’ll explore the scientific limits of prediction; decision biases in that setting; and alternative methods for gaining and communicating insight that changes what people think and what they do. We’ll develop our own scenarios and use them to explore systematically challenges and opportunities ahead for the things we care about — business ideas, governance challenges, social change, etc. This seminar will call on a high level of energy, creativity, and open-mindedness as well as great teamwork.

Last updated:

January 10, 2017