About this issue
THE FUTURIST publishes articles and reports
dealing with (1) significant social and techno-
logical trends and informed forecasts about
where they may lead, (2) methods for using
How to Play a Wild Card
information about future possibilities in deci-
sion making, (3) other topics of interest to
When asked what they would like to know about the future, most
people seeking greater success in the future people would probably want to know what will happen — or at least
for their organizations and themselves. what is most likely to happen. This is a natural and practical ap-
EDITORIAL POLICY: THE FUTURIST takes proach to understanding the future, as it gives people something log-
no official position on what will happen in
the future or what should happen. Articles ical to plan for. Unfortunately, it also leaves them vulnerable to being
represent the views of the authors, not those blindsided by the unexpected.
of THE FUTURIST or of its sponsor, the World Wild-card scenarios are, by definition, unlikely to happen. So why
Future Society. The editors deliberately seek
out alternative views on controversial topics in bother with them? Because they are also, by definition, high-impact
the interest of furthering readers’ understand- scenarios. They can disrupt systems, shift paradigms, and force
ing of important issues.
people to change their values, perceptions, and lifestyles.
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Clement Bezold
(Government), Tsvi Bisk (Strategic Thinking),
Earlier this year, the editors sent out a query to readers of Futurist
Irving H. Buchen (Training), Peter Eder (Mar- Update to offer suggestions of what wild cards might surprise us in
keting and Communications), Joyce Gioia- the future. We also invited John L. Petersen, president of the Arling-
Herman (Workforce/Workplace), Barbara
Marx Hubbard (Images of Man), Andrew ton Institute and author of Out of the Blue, one of the seminal books
Lawler (Space), Joseph P. Martino (Tech- on the subject of wild cards, to give us his views.
nological Forecasting), Jay S. Mendell (Inno-
vation), William L. Renfro (Issues Manage-
The most useful aspect of thinking about wild cards is, in the case
ment), Arthur B. Shostak (Utopian Thought), of bad ones, giving ourselves time to prevent them from happening,
David P. Snyder (Lifestyles), Gene Stephens and, in the case of beneficial wild cards, paving the way for their suc-
(Criminal Justice), Gary Sycalik (Problematic
Futures), Timothy Willard (Biofutures). cess through changes in social systems.
EDITORIAL STAFF: Edward Cornish, Editor; In our special Wild Cards section, some of the scenarios we are en-
Cynthia G. Wagner, Managing Editor; Patrick couraged to consider include disruptions to fo