Emerging Technologies and Why We Listen to Futurists

December 21, 2023 0 Comments

Emerging Technologies and Why We Listen to Futurists

11 August 2023

As we navigate the cresting waves of progress, we’re drawn to voices that can articulate the essence of the uncharted technological ocean that lies ahead. Business leaders, in particular, have developed an appetite for understanding emerging technologies. And they tune into a plethora of channels – LinkedIn, X, Threads, podcasts, YouTube, and newsletters – to absorb the insights offered up by these ‘Futurists.’

What fuels this drive to consume content about nascent technological wonders like AI, smart cities or web3? The answer is twofold: an irresistible fascination with the unknown future and the necessity of strategic preparation for what’s to come.

At the heart of our collective consciousness is a natural curiosity about what lies beyond the horizon. What are our careers and companies going to look like in 2, 5 or 10 years? Futurists like Ben Goertzel, the founder and CEO of SingularityNET, a blockchain-based AI marketplace, cater to this curiosity. They decode the complexities of AI and other tech trends, presenting them in a digestible format and sparking our imaginations.

Something about this content is just more exciting than the average whitepaper which compares and ranks SaaS platforms. Hence the rise of creators and influencers who create content about emerging tech across B2B verticals from finance to education to manufacturing.

That said, we have a running joke here at Custom Influence about how easy it is to be a Futurist given you’re reporting on stuff that hasn’t happened yet. To be genuinely inspiring and helpful to professionals, Futurists’ insights can’t merely be for intellectual stimulation; they have to offer strategic foresight that can confer a competitive edge for businesses.

Truly influential Futurists offer authentic, unvarnished opinions, free from corporate bias. They’re not merely observers or reporters—they’re active participants, working at or having worked at companies leveraging these breakthroughs. This firsthand experience lends a unique perspective that cannot be replicated by those who only report from the sidelines. Perhaps this is what makes the Futurist’s creative economy so active right now.

For instance, Bernard Marr’s newsletters and podcasts are valuable for businesses seeking not just predictions but practical strategies for staying ahead of the curve.

Or consider Amy Webb, the founder of the Future Today Institute and a professor of strategic foresight at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Her annual tech trend report is a definitive guide for business leaders, offering actionable insights based on her deep understanding of tech and its real-world applications.

The narratives surrounding emerging technologies aren’t one-dimensional and involve recognising potential while acknowledging the accompanying challenges and ethical issues. Futurists can also play a vital role in initiating and shaping these crucial discussions, such as Olivia Gameblin, who specialises in AI ethics.

As with any area of thought leadership or social media influence, not all Futurists are created equal. There are many individuals who are better at hacking the LinkedIn algorithm than they are at business advisory or accurately predicting the future. Not to mention the ChatGPT prompt ‘experts’ selling useless courses on every platform from LinkedIn to Instagram.

As brands look to collaborate with Futurists, or as individuals seek to rely on them for content, there are a few key factors to consider:

1. Don’t forget to Google them and check their LinkedIn profile for basic professional experience, qualifications and recommendations. If they are an ‘expert’ in robotics with only content marketing or social media experience, be weary.

2. While no Futurist can predict the future with complete accuracy, those with a track record of reasonably accurate predictions are certainly worth your trust. Look for examples of their past forecasts that have come to fruition.

3. Relevance: A good futurist has expertise in a range of fields, but their insights should align with your industry or area of interest. This is one point we can’t stress enough. If you are judging by hashtags or social media taglines and headlines alone, they can all seem quite generic.

4. A Futurist’s predictions on emerging technologies such as the metaverse should go beyond fascinating theories and provide practical implications for your business or field. They should be able to translate their forecasts into actionable strategies or guidelines. For example, people like Martha Boeckenfeld take an optimistic but still grounded approach to emerging tech.

5. Authenticity is paramount. We’ve observed the same trendy, digestible listicles and video formats be replicated and reposted by many imposters. We’ve even seen fake Discord servers get set up by wannabe creators looking to hijack attention and steal data. Dig around and find those original voices!

By discovering and tuning into thought leaders who are at the forefront of technological advances, we gain a rich, multi-dimensional understanding that transcends the theoretical.

Who do you follow?