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Ian Miles: Foresight Helps to Form a Common Vision of the Future

Foresight activities have been going on in the UK for 20 years now. Their results have been used by private companies, NGOs, local and national governments. Ian Miles, Head of Research Laboratory for Economics of Innovation at the ISSEK (HSE) and Professor of Technological Innovation and Social Change at the University of Manchester, spoke at the IV Foresight and STI Policy conference about the ways foresight helps develop the British society.



Some foresight activities look at specific social or environmental problems of national or global scale, like flooding or obesity. Others start from new technologies that promise big opportunities in the future, including breakthroughs in cognitive science or outlooks of electromagnetic spectrum.

In any case, foresight prompts discussion about what the requirements of these technological prospects are — in terms of research, training, regulation, etc. In what direction should different parts of society be moving, and how should they interact? It’s especially important to tune cooperation within governments, Ian Miles thinks: “Many problems are not just the problem of, say, Department of the Environment, or Department of Science, or Department of Industry”, he said, “they involve many departments at once, sometimes as many as five different departments. And creating a common vision of where we might be going and what they can do has been very, very important”.