The Future Laboratory’s new microsite opens up the findings of its annual forum to all, and brands should take note
The Future Laboratory’s future-proof findings, as revealed on their brand new microsite
This October, The Future Laboratory's third annual Global Futures Forum convened in London to prompt, provoke and inspire future innovation. Bringing together a range of experts – from AI ethicists and smart city planners to mental health practitioners – it was an ideas symposium where TFL's original thinking and research combined with external experts.
The day was broken down into four distinct ‘tracks': the future of brand purpose; future of gender; future of wellbeing; and future of youth. These became the base of the newly launched Choose Your Futures microsite. “The premise of the site was to open the conversation to the public,” explains TFL's art director Aleksandra Szymanska, “with a diversity of visual elements – photography, video and illustration, and a series of typographic animations commissioned by Nikita Iziev, to represent each track."
As well as the easy navigation, “the site teases out the key questions
that brands and consumers should be asking themselves at this moment in time,” says Szymanska. “It also acts as a snapshot of the thinking presented at our event. Absorbing all of the content on the day can be potentially overwhelming, so the site provides a platform the attendees can further explore the themes.”
The first track investigates consumers' desires for brands with purpose in relation to their drive for innovation. “We're seeing traditional moral frameworks of religion and family declining,” says TFL's editorial director Tim Noakes, “and brands and consumers reevaluating the power of innovation and the need for a moral code fit for a digital era.
“Alongside the worrying rise of nationalism in global politics, there is also huge investment in technologies like AI," he continues. "As we become more aware of the biases that black box algorithms are forcing on society, techno-optimism is waning, leaving in its wake a desire to recalibrate our moral compass and imbed both integrity and collective ethical codes of conduct into new technologies.”
So will unethical brands be ostracised in the future? “If brands don't embed a trusted moral compass at the heart of what they do, their consumer base will migrate towards businesses that do,” he tells us. “So, yes, they will be ostracised and ultimately crumble."
With gender equality on pay predicted to be achieved by 2059, TFL also wanted to address “the mindset shifts that need to take place over the next decade to make sure that humans are judged and rewarded on their merits, not sex,” says Noakes. A single solution isn't the aim. Instead a range of areas – from brands helping men build better emotional intelligence to bringing more women to the decision making table – is explored.
All tracks are interconnected, but with Gen Z currently starting full-time employment, its expectations and approach to brands will play a big part in shaping the future. “Teens are in a state of flux,” says Noakes, “but rather than succumbing to passivity, Gen Z is intent on setting a new activism-inspired agenda – one whose impact and influence is being felt around the world. This new emerging mindset will come to affect all the other areas and demographics shown on the microsite... It's going to be exciting to see how the world changes as a result of their anxiety rebellion!”