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Foresight and Modern Future Research: Possibilities and Practice. By Edgar Göll

Although the need to reduce uncertainty is a constant in human ­history, current challenges such as climate change, globalization, and digital transformation – as well as the vast array of options in modern societies – have altered the debate about the future. In recent years, a stronger scientific basis has been observed in business and politics, accompanied by an expansion of related capacities and expertise. Edgar Göll cites the example of the “weak signals” concept, which may enable us to anticipate relevant changes and potential security risks. Despite professionalization, all manner of methods and increasingly powerful computers, it is still not possible to make definite predictions about the future. But given the unsustainability of Western lifestyles, we have a greater-than-ever need for serious futurology to warn of critical developments, encourage reflection on our own role, and identify possible solutions. In this way, we can take a carefully considered, evidence-based approach to shaping the future.

Göll sees this increase in “self-reflection” as being one of the greatest advantages of such an approach – and at the same time an important condition for it. To search out the new and unexpected, he argues, we need to take complexity into account and increase “individual and organizational awareness of new information and opinions.” In the field of security policy, this openness implies an inclusion of breaks, contradictions, and the perspective of the other. If this succeeds, foresight could help to expand options for action, and support the maintenance or establishment of violence-free and peaceful conditions.

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