150 years ago, could we have ever imagined owning a car that would drive itself?
In just the past decade, new technology has made it possible to affordably map your own genome and to set your vehicle to drive itself. In 1867, prototypes for lightbulbs were being tested, the population of Canada was roughly that of Toronto today, and the average life expectancy was less than 50 years old.
July 1, 2017, marks 150 years since Confederation. Like a lot of Canadians, we have mixed feelings about that milestone. We don’t want to party it up while we still have so much work to do on acknowledging and repairing the damage done in our past.
At Overlap, the theme of this July 1st is how we hope to do better over the next 150 years.
The ink is barely dry on the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the Indian Residential Schools, and work has just begun on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It is a time of hard truths, difficult conversations, and painful change in Canada. But it is also a time of hope because we are telling those truths, having those conversations, and initiating those changes.
How might we learn from our past mistakes and envision a hopeful, empathetic, and inclusive future for Canada and the rest of the world? How do we make sure that 150 years from today, we are proud of our decisions as Canadians and global citizens?
Current trends can’t predict or explain what the future will look like 150 years from now. In 1867, the waltz was risque, hats were commonplace, and typewriters were leading edge technology. No one could never have predicted Netflix, remote working, or fidget spinners, so we’re not going to try. Instead, we want to share our idealistic and hopeful outcomes for the future of Canada and the world in the next 150 years.
Why so hopeful?
We believe that better is absolutely possible, and that means imagining a better future in order to build it. We’ll start.
“If I were to time-travel to Canada 150 years from now, I would like to see that my stories of our systemic failings of today—racial injustice, sexism, homophobia, exclusion and other social inequities—were such ancient history that my hosts no longer had words to translate my accounts into their languages. I would like to discover that we lead the world by example in inclusion, creativity, and problem-solving… but that national borders have dissolved into charming anachronisms that explain why it’s easier to get poutine here than abroad, not who owns what land or won which war.”
– Linda Carson, Overlap Director of Foresight
“I’m not convinced there will be a Canada in 150 years. There are numerous thinkers that are predicting the decline of the nation-state and the rise of the city or economic regions. This isn’t a doom and gloom prediction but rather a response to the problematic notion of nations that have arbitrary borders and complex histories (like our own). I also think we’ll all live longer, like a lot longer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still alive due to advancements in AI, biotech and nanotechnology. So I’ll see for myself if I’m right!”
– Brock Hart, Overlap CEO
“I would expect Canada in another 150 years to not exist. I hope that we would see imperialism and nationhood have reached their logical evolutionary conclusion. They have got us this far, but we are seeing the greater need for community and connections with each other. My dream would be that we have basic income and are a global (or multi-earth) creative community of billions.”
– Dave Dowhaniuk, Overlap Designer
“In 150 years, I hope that we have passed all alien tests. I hope that any extraterrestrial lifeforms see how we work and live together on earth with other humans, animals, and lands and that they decide to communicate with us instead of destroying us. Earth will be welcomed into all galactic circles with open arms or whatever appendages those lifeforms may have.”
– Jordan, Overlap Content Marketing Manager
“In 2167, Canada will be remembered as a place that led the movement for the reverence for life and planet. Canada will have been the place that led the drive to appreciating individuals’ radical uniqueness and supporting whole systems’ well-being. I’m hopeful that we gather based on our shared visions, rather than geographic borders, and I hope that the spirit of all of the best parts of Canada—our willingness to have difficult conversations, our unending drive to be better and our support of those who need support, have helped to build a shared vision that leads to better for all living things.”
– Lorraine Randall, Overlap Senior Designer
Here are some Overlap headlines from the future, representing our dreams and hopes for our future 150 years from now. May they be fulfilled much sooner!
- We’ve worked out children’s suffrage: children and youth participate in local and global decision-making everywhere. Their voices are heard, their imaginations amplified, and their safety assured.
- We’ve found a fast low-impact way to travel AND a slow low-impact way to travel, one for when we need to get where we’re going and another for when the journey is the destination.
- Teleportation: We save this for special occasions.
- Wi-fi for all! There’s fast and reliable internet access anytime, anywhere. Looking at you remote tropical island, Mount Everest, and that slight valley you drive through in country.
- Since there are more left-handed people than right, we’ve finally fixed scissors so they work well for anyone.
- Cancer? What’s cancer? Heart disease? Dementia? You can find those terms in our history books because our bodies know how and when to heal themselves.
- Life-enhancing, vitality nourishing, mutually beneficial relationships are the new norm.
- No beige, no all-purpose, no one-size-fits-all. In our best future, we don’t erase differences, we celebrate and make the most of them.
- We’re done with allergies. Cats and peanut butter for everyone!
- Weather Forecasters are some of our most trusted friends. They make extremely accurate, by the minute predictions, even years in advance.
Your turn. If you time-travelled to 2167, what better future would you hope to discover?
And how might we begin to build that future today?
💡 If you’re local to Kitchener or can make the trip, we encourage you to visit A Cause for Celebration? First Things First at THE MUSEUM in Kitchener, open until September 2017, to continue this conversation.
Thinking about the future is important. At Overlap, when we consider the future, we’re usually talking about strategic foresight: a process that explores the many alternate paths that the future could take. Strategic foresight isn’t about predicting the future, it’s about understanding the future. It’s taking the time to think about how your organization might adapt now to try to ensure success later.