Our take on AI and foresight: The steps we are taking today
Working side-by-side with AI is not a novel concept in foresight. Tech-savvy scouting teams have sought these technologies for a while now, and welcomed the improvements they bring to their existing processes, like scouting and sense-making.
Every corporate futurist recognizes that artificial intelligence excels at gathering and analyzing vast amounts of data. However, humans are still unparalleled in contextual sensemaking, imagining the unknown, and applying information.
Since FIBRES was founded, we've believed in this type of hybrid foresight where humans and AI work together. Our product development has been guided by seeking the best technologies to augment human intelligence.
Seeing how rapidly AI technologies are developing and how eagerly they are being adopted, we are further ramping up our efforts in this field to support the everyday foresight work done in companies around the world.
We are excited to see how AI will shape how corporations and consultancies do foresight, and we plan to be at the forefront of this evolution.
4 ways in which AI is transforming foresight work right now
Here are concrete ways in which we believe AI technologies will change foresight and futures intelligence for the better, and how we plan to bring these capabilities in our own foresight tool:
- AI as your sensemaking wizard
- AI as your generic trend analyst
- AI as your baseline analyst
- AI as your scouting assistant
1. AI as your instant sensemaking wizard
A very typical foresight workflow is collecting signals and then drawing conclusions from them, the so-called bottom-up approach.
Many innovators and strategists run workflows where they first gather a heap of information – like news articles, reports, tweets – and then start the sense-making by organizing, categorizing, clustering, and summarizing such inputs.
The end result may be an emerging trend or topic description, or even a written out future narrative.
FIBRES users get to create signals e.g. by using the FIBRES web clipper to collect online news articles. They immediately also see the FIBRES AI-picked additional suggestions for any further reading they may have otherwise missed.
Then, they usually start summarizing such signals. They might create a trend item where they begin to parse together a cohesive narrative of the signals they've collected.
Being able to quickly summarize new signals can speed up the process.
To better support this type of foresight process, we are excited to announce a new feature for quickly summarizing new signals brought into FIBRES.
With the automated summarization capability, users can quickly generate a summary across findings in their account, such as a group of linked signals inside a signal cluster or a trend item.
This type of a workflow typically involves a lot of back and forth between the source material and the analysis or narrative being written. Being able to automatically summarize new signals can significantly speed up the process.
2. AI as the fastest trend analyst you'll ever find
The second area in which AI can help out corporate futurists is creating a baseline understanding of virtually any topic.
Up to this day, we as a company have opted to stay out of the insights creation business. Unlike some of our competitors, we don't have a team of trend scouts and analysts scanning the horizon and writing analyses on emerging trends and topics.
AI can help in creating a baseline understanding of virtually any topic.
Why have we chosen this path? Even at their best, readily-curated insights can only take you so far. They lack the deeply context-specific sensemaking you would need for your business. We know that such readily-curated data will ultimately need to be worked on by your people anyways, to really make it valuable for your company.
FIBRES is for building your own futures intelligence, and it's been our firm belief that no ready-made data sets alone will solve that need.
However, the value of ready-made data sets as a starting point is unquestionable. So, while you won't see us going into consulting any time soon, be prepared to see even more data sets available right inside FIBRES – curated and compiled by AI.
In the following months, we are rolling out 10+ AI-compiled data sets and trend radars. These will cover the biggest industries, technologies, and topics of our time, and serve as a quick segway into your own foresight work.
And yes, there is more to come: a bit later you will be able to control even more of such AI capabilities yourself, right inside of FIBRES. Think creating AI-compiled radars to fully align with your areas of interest.
3. AI as your baseline analyst to easily get started
Right down the line, you'll be able to summarize any topic based on just the title you are working on.
When starting to work on a new topic, imagine if you had all of the world's existing information at your fingertips. Well, with the new wave of language models including ChatGPT, you no longer have to just imagine. So why not put AI to the task?
By bringing these capabilities into FIBRES, you have yourself a machine that can quickly tell you the status quo of any topic. Why waste your time writing out a summary on an already-recognized topic when you can have AI do it for you in a matter of seconds?
Do we believe that AI can replace the work of your in-house analysts? No. Do we think that what AI generates for you can be used as such? No. Are we certain that AI-generated knowledge can be helpful as a starting point? Absolutely.
Are we certain that AI-generated knowledge can be helpful as a starting point? Absolutely.
Generative AI is not a replacer of human work, but a way to get skip the non-value-adding work and get to the beef faster. It's only when you have the baseline understanding in when the more interesting work begins.
4. AI as the most powerful scouting assistant you've seen
A big part of the work of a corporate futurist or a trend or technology scout is looking around and observing the changes in one's operating environment. However, there is a very humane limit as to how much a single person can find.
This is where intelligent feeds come in. Artificial intelligence can make you a more efficient scout by recommending further reading and possible signals on topics and trends you are potentially interested in.
This is a highly-valued, existing feature in FIBRES. We introduced FIBRESEED a few years ago to surface new signals on stuff you're working on. Today, we rarely start with a new customer who wouldn't opt for FIBRESEED once they see how it works and experience its value.
It's already been called a scouting shortcut by our customers consisting of heads of innovation and strategy. Indeed many say this is the best-in-class scouting solution available on the market today. Paired with AI-assisted writing and AI-generated data sets, FIBRESEED will only grow in value.
Envision this: With the help of AI-assisted writing, you quickly create a preliminary trend description on a topic of choice based on historical knowledge included in the language model.
Then, FIBRESEED automatically serves you the most up-to-date additional inputs related to the same, not forgetting alternative points of view.
The tool for building your own futures intelligence
Whether AI will change the way we do futuring and foresight is not a question of if, but when. Corporate futurists and artificial intelligence can work together for a remarkable result.
Erik Brynjolfsson from Stanford Digital Economy Lab has recently reminded us that knowledge information work is what's going to be most squarely affected by AI:
"I would put people like lawyers right at the top of the list — but I like to use the word affected not replaced because if done right it’s not gonna be AI replacing lawyers, it’s gonna be lawyers working with AI replacing lawyers who don’t work with AI," he says.
We would argue that the same is happening with foresight: Innovators, strategists, and futurists who work with AI will replace those who don't. So, are you prepared for this change and taking the necessary steps?
Futurists working with AI will replace futurists who don't work with AI.
If you're interested in seeing how FIBRES may help keep your foresight processes up to speed, we'd be happy to show you.
Panu Kause is the founder and CEO at FIBRES. Before founding FIBRES, he held several management positions and ran his own foresight and strategy focused consultancy.
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