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Disruptive Futures: A Workshop on the Future of Nuclear Weapons

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Just recently, I noted the new president’s statements on nuclear weapons, in which he said the following: “It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

The implication there, I suspect, is that “dream” is a code for impossibility, and thus Trump advocates expanding or somehow improving the nuclear capabilities of the United States. Perhaps it’s just a continuation of the trillion-dollar modernization program discussed by Obama or perhaps it’s a new global arms race. I don’t know for certain, and I wonder if anybody else does, including the President. With this uncertainty at the state level, and the increasing sophistication of terrorists, it reminds me, and should remind everyone, how nuclear weapons remain a tremendous existential threat to humanity and one that futurists should engage as much as possible.

To that end, this is a great occasion to showcase a extraordinary futures-related summit that happened in December of 2016, called Disruptive Futures: Nuclear Weapons Summit.

The Disruptive Futures: Nuclear Weapons Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from December 4-7, 2016, was designed to engage a new type of discussion about nuclear security. Over the course of three days, 45 interdisciplinary leaders from across the country, including futurist fellows like myself from the World Future Society, were immersed in the history of nuclear weapons, discussed present day nuclear threats and — most importantly — explored ‘what if’ scenarios about the future of global security. To accomplish this innovative model for a convening about nuclear weapons Creative Santa Fe partnered with N Square, NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative) and PopTech.

One of the unique aspects of the event was the degree to which the public in Santa Fe was engaged. Public events kicked off and closed the three day summit. The large public opening event was “A Conversation with William J. Perry and Eric Schlosser.”

Here is a full video of that conversation, as well as associated video content:

William Perry served as Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997, and in more recent years, he’s become a strong advocate for reducing the risks of nuclear weapons. Here’s Perry’s Nuclear Project site. Eric Schlosser is an American journalist, author and filmmaker known for investigative journalism, such as in his books Fast Food Nation (2001), Reefer Madness (2003), and Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (2013).

As the final part of the futures process, the summit participants presented 2045 Future scenarios to the public at the Violet Crown theater in Santa Fe. The days in between the two public events were filled with past and present talks and tours, but also qi-gong and collaborative exercises designed by Rhode Island School of Design industrial designers.  The success of the summit is in large part due to the disruptive nature of the program itself.

Here’s is a video showing scenes from the final presentations:

One of Creative Santa Fe’s primary economic objectives is to shine an international spotlight on Santa Fe. They believe that Santa Fe can become a global destination for leaders to tackle some of the world’s most challenging issues by leveraging New Mexico’s key assets: art, culture, science, technology, environment, and heritage. To that end, they have launched Disruptive Futures, and there promise to be more futures-oriented events.

A hugely important topic. A powerful process. Futures in action. I encourage everyone interested in positive futures to engage with the nuclear issue at least enough to get a lot better informed than our president seems to be at this point.

The future may depend on it.

[Thanks to the folks at Creative Santa Fe for the videos and some of the event summary above.]

Author: Eric Kingsbury

Technology Futurism Creative Marketing Strategy Art Music Writing Thinking Ideas

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