10 Essential Futurists for 2015, Part One

Posted By on September 14, 2015


Futurists, or futurologists, are scientists and social scientists whose specialty is futurology, or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general (source Wikipedia).

But, which Futurists are really making a mark? 10 Essential Futurists for 2015, Part One is the first of two posts that present who I think is challenging thinking today.

I wanted to write this article to show you some Futurists that I personally love to watch and read their musings. They are in the midst of making what is happening tomorrow right now. Some you might know, and some you might not. The fact is that there are millions of uncredited futurists in the world – from bakers to chefs, from strategists to coders, and from citizens to Presidents of nations.

This list is made up of people that are called futurists and some that may not see them that way. They are researchers, academics, authors, or artists. To me, they are all prophets of what is to come and I find them hugely inspirational.

If you think I’ve missed anyone of note then please do leave comments at the bottom of this article saying who you love to watch and read. Enjoy.

Douglas Rushkoff

I first read Cyberia in 1995. It was a book about the birth of the web, the counter culture that embraced it and those people that were caught in it’s early orbit. It had a profound impact on me.

Rushkoff earned his PhD in New Media and Digital Culture from Utrecht University with his dissertation entitled Monopoly Moneys: The media environment of corporatism and the player’s way out. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received an MFA in Directing from California Institute of the Arts, a post-graduate fellowship (MFA) from The American Film Institute, a Fulbright award to lecture on narrative in New Zealand, and a Director’s Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has worked as a certified stage fight choreographer, an SAT tutor, and as keyboardist for the industrial band PsychicTV (which I never knew until I wrote this article but I find to make him even more compelling).

The tribal community lived in the totality of circular time; the farmers of God’s universe understood before and after; workers of the clockwork universe lived by the tick; and we creatures of the digital era must relate to the pulse.

Ben Goertzel

Taken from his website:

American male, born 1966 to human parents — hoping to become radically transhuman one day, in some manner that lets me fully appreciate the transition.

Ben is focused on creating benevolent superhuman artificial general intelligence; and applying AI to areas like financial prediction, bioinformatics, robotics and gaming. He’s also given dozens of speeches on technical and futurist topics in the last few years. Ten Years to a Positive Singularity, If We Really, Really Try (well, actually 9 years at the time of that talk), delivered via Skype to the TransVision 2007 conference in Helsinki, was a particularly notable speech (and very much worth checking out). You can also read the text for that talk.

Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is an American computer philosophy writer, computer scientist, and composer of classical music. Most recently he has written ‘Who owns the future?’ and ‘You are not a gadget.’ – both essential reads.

Lanier is a pioneer in the field of virtual reality (a term he is credited with popularizing) and , in the late 1990s, he worked on applications for Internet2, and in the 2000s, he was a visiting scholar at Silicon Graphics and various universities. From 2006 he began to work at Microsoft, and from 2009 forward he works at Microsoft Research as Interdisciplinary Scientist. He plays instruments that are 2000 years old and restructures how you think about the world.

Writing and thinking is not economically sustainable.

By the way, his website clearly states ” Jaron has no social media accounts at all and all purported ones are fake.”


Hiromi Ozaki is better known by her pseudonym Sputniko! She is a British/Japanese artist and designer. Her work falls within the practice of critical design and she does much of this by inventing devices and creating songs and music videos which include the devices. Her work focuses on the social, cultural, and ethical implications of new technologies, often through the lens of feminism and gender issues

I almost feel that technology can be considered as life, too. In some way I think it is dangerous to say that everything using a smartphone is unnatural and everything about jungle is natural. From my point of view it is just a new natural that has been been created. For instance, phoning used to be “technology “when it first appeared but right now we consider it “natural”… By my hand, I just embrace technology as a reality.

Gerd Leonhard

Gerd is very entertaining Futurist that talks and writes on a wide range of topics including digital transformation and the discovery of digitally-native business models, the opportunities and challenges of an exponential society, a sustainable business and cultural ecology, social media and communications, TV / film, radio and broadcasting futures, mobile content and commerce, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship, ‘hard-future’ consumer trends, human-machine futures and AI, the IoT, big data and automation, next-generation advertising, marketing and branding, as well as sustainability and related ‘green future’ topics (taken from his bio). His slide decks are amazing and he is investing much of his time traversing many topics.

Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history.

Stay tuned for Part Two.


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.

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