Futurologist Slava Kozlov: «My colleagues and I help people direct the future»

24.08.2011, 13:35
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Slava Kozlov, futurologist, futurodesigner, sociologist and psychologist. The Summ()n company that he founded helps major companies determine what the market might look like in the future. On Thursday August 25, Slava will give a lecture on the Internet of Things as part of the Future of Money conference.

For the past 10-12 years, I have been working on designing futures: I worked with the Strategic Future Design team of Philips Design. At this design agency of Philips, our team engaged in forecasting the future 10-15 years ahead. For such projections, specialists from different disciplines are necessary: not just technological specialists, but also sociologists, political scientists, cultural experts, even futurologists. We tried to understand the future and, based on our forecasts, create innovative design. A concept or idea could be a product.

The future is a very complicated subject. Any projections may seem a heresy. Or there are times when we predict the future, as it seems to us it will be, but in the end our predictions may not come true; the reason for this is that often, instead of defining the future, we project reality through our experiences. It’s very difficult to come up with a detailed description of future technologies and understand what their potential impact on society will be. A striking example is the Internet. Everyone understood that the Internet, computers, memory and chips would become cheaper. But no one could imagine that the world would change so radically: we are using and storing data in a completely different way, we communicate and learn in new ways. In the end, our understanding of ourselves, of the state, of society is changing.

We are engaged in «serious games». One form of researching the future, which we’ve been practicing in recent years, is the playing technique: we give people the opportunity to play with the future. We create the conditions that allow people to disconnect from the present day, from the clichés and stereotypes, and let them escape from reality. As a result, we are able to predict their behaviour in the future. Our company is called Summ()n. This is an English word, one of its narrow meanings is «a court order». Historically, summon is a magic spell. Moreover, summon is always a collective action. That’s what we tried to play with in the name. «Summon the future» is a call to reconstruct the future, to give it new features and let people touch them, feel them.

My colleagues and I help people direct the future, build a forecast and look at it in a different way. The result of our work is comparable with the effect of psychotherapy: we help people change.

At the conference, I will talk about the Internet of things. I did this for many years, it’s a widespread and reasonable version of the future world because sooner or later all devices will communicate with each other. This theme is very popular now. It’s also relevant for the future of money: technology is going to support different types of payments. But I, as a sociologist and psychologist, believe that such a description of the future of money doesn’t take into account all details. People change, they will be different. Technology is important, but it’s also necessary to understand what new types of personalities will emerge in a new world and how new types of money should cater for these personalities. That’s what I would like to talk about at Strelka’s Future of Money conference.