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I’ve always been fascinated by organizations like the Institute For The Future and the World Future Society.  The folks at both these fine institutions sincerely want to help steer humanity towards a better future through careful foresight, and I applaud their efforts. But at the same time, I remain skeptical about the impact these types of efforts are likely to have. 

Perhaps the biggest issue is critical mass. How can organizations like these hope to be heard over the din of everyone else shouting out their own prognostications, and jockeying for people’s attention?

Beginning with the Greeks and the myth of Cassandra, history is full of fortune tellers who have sat on the sidelines and tried in vain to tell others about what lies ahead.  Their passive style has usually meant they’ve been impotent when it comes to actually bringing about (or in the case of dire predictions, preventing) the future they predict. The future is what happens when these folks are making other plans.

History has shown that they people who shape the course of human events are those who engage in the fray, and who get their hands dirty creating the future rather than simply talking about it. Think of Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and Bill Gates.

Don’t get me wrong. I think we need people like Ray Kurzweil to show us possible futures. But it is world leaders and entrepreneurs ‘in the trenches’ who in the end have the most influence.

I wonder – in this new socially connected world that is emerging, is there a way to empower the collective intelligence to have a concrete influence, rather than just waiting for industrious individuals to take the bull by the horns and make things happen?  The upcoming attempt by iPhone users to influence AT&T’s service and policies, dubbed Operation Chokehold, might be a modest first step in this direction.

But I have something much more creative in mind.

I wonder if there is a way to connect collective intelligence, and the individuals that make it up, directly with folks in a position to help bring about the ‘next big thing’?  Here is a concrete idea. What I’d like to see is a venture capital fund that lets little guys (like me) participate. What it might do is allow the collective wisdom of lots of little guys to guide investments, and therefore help create the future of technology, rather than just talking about it and waiting passively for it to happen.

It sounds like a business plan someone must have already thought of. Maybe there is such an organization out there already. If so, can someone point me to it?

Ever feel like you're part of a big machine?

This blog is an exploration of what being part of a collective might mean for each of us as individuals, and for society.

What is it that is struggling to emerge from the convergence of people and technology?

How can each of us play a role, as a thoughtful cog in the big machine?

Dean Pomerleau


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