Episode 28: A Conversation with Mark Stevenson

In this episode, Byron and Mark discuss the future of jobs, energy and more.

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Guest

‘Reluctant futurist’ Mark Stevenson is the author of two bestselling books, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future and the award-winning We Do Things Differently, available now from The Outlook Press. He is one of the world’s most respected thinkers on the interplay of technology and society, helping a diverse mix of clients that include government agencies, NGOs, corporates and arts organisations to become future literate and adapt their cultures and strategy to squarely face the questions the future is asking them.

Transcript

Byron Reese: This is “Voices in AI,” brought to you by Gigaom. I’m Byron Reese. Today I’m excited we have Mark Stevenson. Mark is a London-based British author, businessman, public speaker, futurologist and occasionally musician and comedian. He is also a fellow of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. His first book, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future was released in 2011 and his second one, We Do Things Differently came out in 2017. He also co-founded and helps run the London-based League of Pragmatic Optimists. Welcome to the show, Mark! 

Mark Stevenson: Thank you for having me on, Byron! It’s a pleasure.

So, the subtitle of your Optimist’s Tour of the Future is, “One curious man sets out to answer what’s next.” Assuming you’re the curious man, what is next?

You can take “curious” in two ways, can’t you? Somebody is interested in new stuff, or somebody’s just a little bit odd, and I am probably a bit of both. Actually, I don’t conclude what’s next. I actually said the question is its own answer. My work is about getting people to be literate about the questions the future is asking them. What’s next will depend on how we collectively answer those questions.

What’s next could be a climate change, dystopian, highly unequal world; or what’s next could be a green-powered, prosperous, abundant, distributed economy for everybody. And each is likely. What’s next is what we decide to do about it, and that’s why I do the work I do, which is trying to educate people about the questions we’re being asked, and allowing them to imagine for themselves.

You said that’s why you do the work that you do. What do you do?