• Richard Lum

Disinformation is Not a Future Problem



In ten years’ time, “disinformation” is not going to be the headline. Something else will. Something else will dominate people’s thinking about the future. This is not to say that disinformation will not be a problem, just that it will not be the top-of-mind threat that it currently looks like today. Society will adapt in some way, either solving it or growing around it, and something new will rise up in people’s view as the most pressing crisis or opportunity. So, why would any of your current discussions about the year 2032 (and beyond) feature disinformation as a defining issue?


Back in 2012, you would have scratched your head in confusion if someone had told you that in ten years’ time this thing called disinformation, funded by geopolitical adversaries and amplified by algorithms we all rely on, would be something that dominates international, domestic, and community discussions. It likely would have struck you as quite an exaggerated issue, if not downright fanciful. So, today, when you list the issues you think will dominate your organization’s future ten years from now, how many of them make you scratch your head?


While these future issues – whatever they will be – may not be headlines for ten years, it is very likely your industry and your organization will feel their effects long before that. In the case of disinformation, Russia had been running its campaigns for some time before the 2016 presidential election in which they became infamous. Yet, no one was talking about disinformation as a critical future issue back in 2006. In fact, even the term “cyber” didn’t make it into the US intelligence community’s formal list of key national security threats back in 2006.


This means that whatever future issues will dominate headlines and your planning discussions in 2032, they will emerge over the next few years. Somewhere right now, possibly in multiple places, those emerging issues are percolating. They are just starting to bubble up as possibilities that could shape the future. An experimental technology here, a provocative yet "unrealistic" notion there. Stopping for a moment to think about it now, are you confident your organization has picked up on their current weak signals?


If you are not, then contact us today to discuss how we can work with your organization to start developing the ongoing foresight you need.


Take Aways:

  • Discussions about the long-term future should not be automatically defined by today’s top of mind headlines

  • Some of the emerging issues for your long-term future should make your team scratch their heads

  • Those future issues are anticipated today through collecting and connecting weak signals

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