16 Jul FUTUROLOGIST VS. FUTURIST: GET TO KNOW YOUR KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Shh, don’t tell: The terms futurologist speaker and futurist are often used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences:
- Focus: For starters, our friends who are futurologist speakers tend to have a more academic and research-driven focus on systematically studying the future through methodologies like forecasting, predictions, and scenario planning. On the flip side, futurists may have a broader approach that is more about speculating imaginatively on future possibilities.
- Background: In the former case, folks more often come from technical backgrounds like the natural sciences, engineering, economics, and computer science. Again, on the other hand, futurists come from diverse backgrounds including the humanities, arts, business, and social sciences.
- Goals: It’s not uncommon to see futurologist speakers aim to use data and modeling to calculate probable futures. On the other side of the table, futurist keynote speakers may be more motivated by envisioning preferable, innovative futures that can positively transform society.
- Orientation: It’s not always the case, but futurologists can have a more analytical, empirical approach focused on what is likely to happen. By way of contrast, their counterparts may have a more creative, change-focused approach on what could happen.
- Timescales: The former tend to look at longer-term macro futures, out to 50 or 100 years. The latter often focus on nearer-term micro futures and trends over the next 10-20 years.
- Methods: Top futurologist speakers may rely more on quantitative forecasting methods while futurists can use more qualitative and participatory methods like scenarios and visions.
- Applications: Leading futurologists are consulted for technical forecasts to aid planning and policymaking. At odds with this practice, some futurists are more often hired by businesses to do future-oriented strategic thinking.
So in essence, futurology is sometimes (but not always) more formalized and scientific in studying probable futures while futurism is (again, in general, but not perpetually) more speculative and visionary in exploring possible futures. But both professions share the common goal of thinking systematically about the future.