Smart Thoughts

About Designing the Future

Blessed are the Fairness Seekers

Written by: Andrew Maynard

If you could create the Guide, what would be in it?  What would be important elements to be included?

Who gets to imagine the future and, brick by metaphorical brick, build it?

Too often, the aspirational architects of our collective future are the wealthy, the powerful, the well-connected, and the well-educated. But what about those who aren’t part of this club?

Any guide to designing the future needs to ensure that the design process is “de-marginalized” so that everyone has the opportunity and ability to contribute to the extent of their abilities, without the powerful running roughshod over the decision-making process.

One intriguing starting point for such a set of principles is to take inspiration from a two-thousand-year-old “design guide for the future”—the Beatitudes.

These of course require some re-interpretation if they are to inspire design principles for a secular de-marginalized future. But imagine a guide that includes the following:

  1. Consider the poor, and strive for a future where they have plenty.
  2. Remember those who mourn, and design a future that will alleviate their sorrow.
  3. Listen to those who are quiet, who doubt themselves, and whose voice is easily drowned out, as they have as much of a claim to the future as everyone else.
  4. Pay attention to those who advocate for social justice, and work toward creating a future that is responsive to them.
  5. Hold in high esteem those who are merciful, and design a merciful future for them.
  6. Remember those who can’t care for themselves, and build a future that cares for them.
  7. Elevate people who mend rifts and build bridges, and design a future that values their skills.
  8. Recognize those who are persecuted, and endeavor to create a future where they are not.

These are all social design principles.  Any guide to designing the future must channel these in socially responsible and responsive ways.

In other words, we need a guide that supports a future that is designed of the people, for the people, and by the people.


About Andrew Maynard

Andrew is an author, physicist, and student of the socially responsible and ethical development of emerging and converging technologies. For over twenty years he has worked on the challenges and opportunities presented by technologies ranging from nanotechnology and genetic engineering, to artificial intelligence and self-driving cars. He is currently a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and Director of the ASU Risk Innovation Lab.