With the public launch of the X2 project, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang realized one of his dreams. Alex is the research director of The Institute for the Future (IFTF), an independent nonprofit research group headquartered in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley. He writes:
The project is called X2, and its aim is to forecast the future of science, technology and innovation. The name may sound like science fiction, but it’s actually an historical allusion. In my previous life as an academic historian, I studied the X Club, a group of Victorian scientists who were very interested in the future of British science. The Club formed when its members were still young, ambitious outsiders, fighting to establish their reputations in a world in which social connections and privilege mattered more than scientific achievement; by the time they retired, its nine members were among the leaders of British science.
That said, dear ‘still young, ambitious outsiders’ you can now sign up for the project and join the groups you’re interested in. I suggest you starting with Quick Start. Disclaimer: I am the so called “steward” of the embryonic group Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology. As my job description says: …people who can provide a basic supply of high-quality signals and forecasts, and work with us to encourage others to contribute. Currently we’re calling these people “stewards. Signals are post-like entities: each signal is a few hundred words, plus links to exemplary online resources and tags, covering the most exciting, strange-but-potentially-revolutionary, or just plain important developments in the respective fields. Forecasts are intended to speak more explicitly to the future than signals, and explain how the trends they discuss might play out over time. Formal descriptions of signals, hypotheses, forecasts are here. Also you can be involved in prediction market game.
I became involved in the project in November, 2007 and contributed with some signals that later turned out to be forecasts. The designer of the site is Mike Love and Matt Daniels is the research manager.
The official description of the X2 project:
Today, science is entering another period of accelerated change, thanks to the growth of the Internet and dawn of pervasive computing; the explosive growth of new sciences like genetic engineering, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and simulation; the rise of new scientific powers in the developing world, the revival of amateur scientists, and the growth of citizen science movements in the United States and Europe; the growth of new institutions supporting scientific research and innovation, and changes in the structure and funding of universities, government, and corporate R&D labs. Science in 2025 and 2050 is going to look very different than it does today.
To map and make sense of all these changes, the Institute for the Future (IFTF) launched the X2 Project in late 2007. The purpose of X2 is to identify future disruptions, opportunities, and competitive landscapes related to the content and dynamics of global science and technology innovation; to develop a new platform for understanding global innovation trends; and to present this information to policy- and decision-makers, as well as the general public, in a useful form. The project conducts its research online, through an innovative experiment in open forecasting; in workshops with young scientists and engineers around the world; and in online games.
X2 is overseen by an ad hoc committee sponsored by the U.S. National Academies (comprised of the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council), and received its initial funding from the U.S. Department of Defense.