Jim Dator's Alternative Futures and the Path to IAF's Aspirational Futures

by Clement Bezold


Jim Dator has specialized in understanding and developing “alternative futures”. He periodically assesses the range of futures as seen by experts and futurists and by people in various settings where he serves as a futurist. These expert and popular images change over time, and some reflect that lack of thought about the future. But for three decades Dator has compressed the range of futures into four archetypes – continued growth, collapse/decline, conserver/disciplined society, and high tech transformation. As co-founder of the Institute for Alternative Futures and futures mentor to Clem Bezold, his approach has been significant in the origins and evolution of IAF’s aspirational futures approach. Aspirational futures has organizations or communities generate several scenarios: a most likely, best intelligence future that usually parallels a continued growth image; a challenge scenario that considers significant responses to “what could go wrong”; and one or two visionary scenarios that identify future visionary conditions and alternative paths to get there.

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