Ci’Num (2005-2007): On the future of “Digital Civilizations”

CinumOrganized by Aquitaine Europe Communication, directed and curated by myself and Daniel Erasmus, Ci’Num was a global, multicultural, 3-year foresight process (2005-2007) which intended to shed a new light on the future of our digital civilizations, taking into account geopolitical, cultural and economic differences. Our focus was:

  • on the specific contribution of, and challenges related to, the emergence of ubiquitous and “intimate” technologies stemming from the convergence between nanotech, biotech, IT and cognitive science;
  • on the social appropriation and production of technology;
  • and on the ways, tools and methods through which we become empowered to shape our personal and collective futures – i.e., not on figuring out the most likely futures, but in recognizing uncertainties and looking for ways to maximize choices and opportunities in any given future.

Ci’Num 2005 was about stock-taking on scientific and technical advances, globalization and its challenges, diversity and social evolution.

Ci’Num 2006 centred around storybuilding: What are the possible futures of digital civilizations? What do these futures hinge upon? What new questions emerge from this story-telling? On thing we did was invent elements of an imaginary 2026 Universal Expo, an exercice that has since been reproduced many times.

Ci’Num 2007 was about making choices and decisions: How can we imagine and be empowered to build our own paths towards the future , despite all the constraints, the uncertainties, all that could legitimately worry us into inaction – or submission? Although of course dated, the 4 resulting scenarios, written almost as fictional narratives, remain (in my opinion) almost as powerful today as they were 10 years ago: “Collapse” (heard that word recently?), “Imperialism“, “New Enlightenement” and “100,000 Flowers” (Maoist reference intended).

CiNum07_Scenario_Tree_V2We also took pains to describe what these scenarios meant in 21 areas related to human existence, science and technology, geopolitics, etc.: identity, fashion, money, energy, education, religion, research & innovation, “What is lost or forgotten?”…

Ci’Num continues to inspire me after all these years. Check it out with an open eye, it might do the same to you?


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