Insights July 12th, 2021

Each week Nikolas Badminton curates a weekly list of insights and learnings for progressive executives, world leaders and foresight practitioners – CEO Futures Briefing: Queer Futures and Reality Privilege.

This week we look at an essential perspective on queer futures, reality privilege, seven ways to do scenario planning badly, biohackers making insulin 98% cheaper, Denmark’s $34BN energy islands, and the future of nanotechnology.

Also featured is an insightful interview on the Exponential Minds Podcast with Brett Macfarlane who talks about innovation leadership, anxiety and tolerance to drive change.

To receive this, and other important insights into the future, then please sign up to Nikolas’ newsletter here.

If you have questions about these things we’re sharing, or a challenge with seeing the futures for you and your organization? Reach out to speak with Nikolas today to arrange a time to talk.

Summertime, relax and unwind…

2021 has been a very busy year for us with foresight project virtual keynotes, many great Exponential Minds Podcast interviews, new articles at and and more.

So, this will be the last newsletter before Summer break. Nikolas will be in a writing retreat putting together his new book for Bloomsbury – ‘FACING OUR FUTURES’ – and preparing for what will be a busy Fall with a newly designed launch, more exciting client projects, and new research.

Thank you for your time reading this. Noe, take a break and enjoy some time outside with friends and family. 

Three articles to read to watch

Queer Futures

Rather than being insulting or derogatory, ‘queer’ has been reclaimed as a term by those outside heteronormative and cisgender realms to encompass and empower a sense of community for a juncture of identities on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. 

As such, queerness increasingly describes a dynamic and a fluid movement of people in the world — a world in which 69 countries currently criminalize consensual, same-sex sexual activity, with a possible death penalty in 11, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), while in 2020, we marked 30 years since the declassification by the WHO of homosexuality as a disease.

Read more at Medium

Reality Privilege and Living Your Life Online

Around the world, millions of people would rather live somewhere else, and most will never have that chance. Watching these TikTok videos—watching people’s self-deprecating admissions of their own less-than-exciting environments—reminds me of the concept of “Reality Privilege.”

In a recent interview, Marc Andreessen broke down Reality Privilege:

“Your question is a great example of what I call Reality Privilege. This is a paraphrase of a concept articulated by Beau Cronin: “Consider the possibility that a visceral defense of the physical, and an accompanying dismissal of the virtual as inferior or escapist, is a result of superuser privileges.” A small percent of people live in a real-world environment that is rich, even overflowing, with glorious substance, beautiful settings, plentiful stimulation, and many fascinating people to talk to, and to work with, and to date. These are also *all* of the people who get to ask probing questions like yours. Everyone else, the vast majority of humanity, lacks Reality Privilege—their online world is, or will be, immeasurably richer and more fulfilling than most of the physical and social environment around them in the quote-unquote real world.

The Reality Privileged, of course, call this conclusion dystopian, and demand that we prioritize improvements in reality over improvements in virtuality. To which I say: reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don’t think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build—and we are building—online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.

Here’s a thought experiment for the counterfactual. Suppose we had all just spent the last 15 months of COVID lockdowns *without* the Internet, without the virtual world. As bad as the lockdowns have been for people’s well-being—and they’ve been bad—how much worse would they have been without the Internet? I think the answer is clear: profoundly, terribly worse. (Of course, pandemic lockdowns are not the norm—for that, we’ll have to wait for the climate lockdowns.)”

Read more at Substack

Seven Sure-fire Ways to Do Scenario Planning Badly: A Guide to Poor Practice

The practice of scenario planning has no barriers to entry. Scenario planners have neither to pass a bar exam as do lawyers nor do they have to be certified by a professional body, as do engineers or medics. It follows, then, that quality control is non-existent, except ex-post, when bad scenario planning may have already negatively impacted the organisation.

The result of too-few competent scenario planners is the ease with which scenario planning can produce results that are simply not useful—if not harmful—and waste valuable time and money.

This article proposes seven ways to execute scenario planning poorly.

  1. Render scenarios useless: Failing to identify the user and the use, and avoid supporting the using
  2. Introduce Confusion: Employing the term ‘scenario’ to depict something (anything) that is not actually a scenario
  3. Befuddle: Confusing the distinctions required to make scenario sets useful
  4. Believe in pop-up scenarios: Pretending scenario planning can be done from scratch in an afternoon
  5. Call on magic: Suggest scenario sets are miracles and can foretell the future
  6. Downplay: Make scenario planning appear to be necessarily incomplete
  7. Create a domino effect: Hiring the ‘wrong’ professionals

Read more at Elsevier

Three videos to watch

The Biohackers Making Insulin 98% Cheaper

Today, over seven million Americans with diabetes use at least one form of insulin to treat the disease, but many are at risk of not getting the care they need. The American Diabetes Association reported that 25% of patients have turned to self-rationing their medication to deal with its ever-increasing price tag. 

It’s estimated that a vial of insulin costs pharmaceutical companies five to six dollars to manufacture, but because of a complicated web of regulations those companies are able to sell vials for $180-400. And rising costs are nothing new. Insulin prices tripled from 2002 to 2013, and doubled between 2012 and 2016. 

A group of dedicated biohackers believes that making insulin more accessible requires taking the monopoly away from the big three pharmaceutical companies that produce it. So they’ve started the Open Insulin Foundation, a non-profit with plans to develop the world’s first open-source insulin production model. 

Denmark’s $34BN Energy Islands Could Solve Europe’s Power Problem

These artificial islands off the coast of Denmark could hold the key to the future of Europe’s power grids.

The Future of Nanotechnology By Kim Eric Drexler

Eric Drexler, the “founding father of nanotechnology,” and Jim Phillips, the CEO of Nanomech, discuss the potential applications and implications of nanotechnology. How will this atomically precise manufacturing impact the future of technology, global governance, and the environment?

A conversation that counts

Each week we dig into the archives of all of the interviews Nikolas has undertaken with the insightful and entertaining Exponential Minds Podcast. This week we feature Brett Macfarlane who talks about innovation leadership, anxiety and tolerance to drive change.

The last word…

“It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer.”

Anna Godbersen, Bright Young Things

About Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist at and a world-renowned futurist speakerconsultant, researcher, and media producer. He helps trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments and the media shift their mindset from “what is” to “WHAT IF…” The result is empowered employees, new innovative products and incredible growth that leads to more revenues and a more resilient future.

Nikolas advised Robert Downey Jr.’s team for the ‘Age of A.I.’ documentary series, starred in ‘SMART DRUGS – a Futurist’s journey into biohacking’, and features on CTV, Global News, Sirius XM regularly. His mind-expanding research and opinion can be found on BBC, VICE, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Techcrunch, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Forbes, Sputnik and Venturebeat. 

Nikolas provides the opening chapter – ‘Start with Dystopia’ in a new book – ‘The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights into the Future of Business, Technology and Society’ for Bloomsbury. He is currently researching and writing a new book that equips executives and world leaders with insights and foresight tools to imagine disruption, strengthen strategic planning, and see unforeseen risks.

Nikolas is a Fellow of The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – The RSA. The organization has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years with notable past fellows including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, and Tim Berners-Lee. 


Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA (FRSA), a media personality, and has worked with over 400 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas