IFTF's Foresight Engine platform is the culmination of lots of experiments to understand how to engage the larger public in thinking systematically about the future. The first incarnation of this lightweight platform was Signtific Lab, which was developed for the government to anticipate how development in science and technology might pose problems to our national well-being. In these early trials, we were still aiming for outlier ideas and forecasts, as we explored subjects such as cube satellites, robots, abundant energy scenarios, energy-water nexus, and impacts of open-IP on a corporate R&D setting.
Signtific Lab - Free Space Trilogy
The Signtific Lab platform was used to explore questions around space in three related runs:
February 2009 - Webstock, Wellington, New Zealand
- Registered Players = 315
- Cards Played = 3,466
March 2009 - CeBIT, Hannover, Germany
- Registered Players = 100
- Cards Played = 875
March 2009 - eTech, San Jose, California, USA
- Registered Players = 200
- Cards Played = 1,700
Below you will find our Signtific Lab Report, released in 2009. This report summarizes the efforts of the Signtific Project (formerly known as The X2 Project) to engage the global scientific community in anticipating the most important innovations and disruptions in science and technology—and to understand their implications for the future of science and of society at large. Recognizing the changes in scientific practice, the project:
- Used an open-source approach to identify and aggregate potential signals of disruptive scientific innovations
- Leveraged new social media to engage both professional and citizen scientists at new scales
- Integrated gaming principles to explore alternative incentive structures for collaboration and knowledge sharing among scientists
- Targeted specific geographic, ethnographic, and demographic niches likely to produce leaders in emerging disciplines
The project consisted of three distinct but interrelated platforms:
- The Signtific website—an online collaborative repository for signals and forecasts about key developments in science and technology.
- A system for conducting workshops in geographic and ethnographic niches—creating regional roadmaps that use the signals and forecasts from the Signtific online site to seed the discussion and then integrating the results back into the repository.
- Signtific Lab—a platform for rapid iteration of extreme-scale thought experiments, using gaming principles to drive a broad-based, bottom-up process of collaborative forecasting. (Signtific Lab was the precursor to IFTF's Foresight Engine platform.)