I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin.
Predicting the future is hard. And that’s exactly why we took this project on.
Slalom is dedicated to helping companies tackle the world’s biggest challenges, and we love to help our clients understand and plan for the consumer of the future. And that means looking for inspiration and vision wherever we can find it. So we started an internship with the sole purpose of exploring one question: How can we use Hollywood science fiction to help our clients reach for and realize their futures?
To answer that question, we hired a team of talented interns to watch 133 sci-fi movies and chronicle every occurrence of future technology. Now we’re using their overarching ideas, themes and technologies to paint a picture for our clients of what their futures could look like, and how they can start building toward it. The project was the brainchild of Slalom CEO Brad Jackson and the Slalom Strategy team. And it's not over yet. Our team is taking this research even further—exploring the raw elements of innovation and what inspires it.
Hollywood does a great job of exploring technological themes, issues to solve, and big existential questions. Our team of movie watchers keyed in on one of these: As AI approaches sentience, doesn't that also imply a capacity for empathy, and can this be applied to the education sector? Exploring these questions through films like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Minority Report, and Inception provides a unique perspective to imagine and predict opportunities for the world of 2030 and beyond.
One of the larger insights the team found was what you gain with a simple change of perspective. The same technology that’s portrayed as part of a dystopian future has the potential to prevent that same future. In the words of team member Shubha Tripathi, “We began to realize how important it is to view the future in the way that you want it to be, because your expectations are going to drive it.” In other words, it’s up to us to build what we want. Adds John Tomik, managing director of Slalom Strategy, “Probably the biggest surprise I’m seeing is that the team is finding is the relationships between the technologies and how they affect human behavior.”
If there was one overarching takeaway, it was a reminder of the power of imagination and thinking big. The question going into this project was, "Can we predict the future?" The answer we found is, "Actually, we can create it."