While the rest of the economy is in hibernation, a speculative bubble has emerged in covid futurology. Many commentators have rushed in with warnings and forecasts about how the world will change, usually mirroring their ideological preferences.
As we try to make sense of the cross-currents, we have shared our analysis of the drivers of change that might shape our future, but stopped short of entering the prediction game. When the context is so fluid, we almost need what John Keats called the ‘negative capability’ to live in ‘uncertainties, mysteries and doubts’ without reaching for false certainties.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing essays that hope to illuminate the lessons and possible futures thrown up by the current crisis.
The first essay looks at how different countries have responded to the outbreak, and the lessons of the response so far. While this has been a global pandemic, there have been profound national differences both in the policy response, and the outcomes to date.
We will be sharing our view of the different narratives and scenarios that could emerge, based on whether we see the post-coronvirus recovery being one of relative continuity or change, and the extent to which we are optimistic or pessimistic about the direction this will lead. All the scenarios are plausible. And the future may be much messier, with elements of each scenario being combined.
Faced with these possible futures, it's easy to view the eventual outcome as being beyond our control. But there is so much to shape, and the choices we make now may set the direction of our societies for decades to come.
Nesta has long argued for the process of thinking about the future - an activity that is, usually an elite occupation - to be democratised, and to be open to the energy and the creativity of the public. Now, more than ever before, we may have an opportunity to come together and make choices about the country we want to live in; a moment where the status quo has broken down to a point where change feels possible. This blog from our participatory futures work, highlights the tools and methods that could bring together expertise and public preferences and build a smart, committed, coalition for change.