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Three things you should know about futurists

While the term “futurism” dates back to the 1800s, being a futurist – as a career – seems like a fairly new phenomenon. But what does it really mean? What do these people do? Who hires futurists? And what kind of topics keep them up at night? In our quest for answers, we took a closer look at some of this year’s me Convention speakers. Here’s what we discovered:

1) Futurists host podcasts

It seems like futurist and Changeist founder Scott Smith can’t sit still! Besides starting his own company, he designs programs and gives lectures at educational institutions, writes articles for big-name publications like The Atlantic and Wired UK, and is working on a documentary project. In his spare time, he’s recently started hosting the Underfutures podcast, together with fellow futurist and me Convention speaker Madeline Ashby. Other futurists might not be creating their own podcasts, but they do make super intriguing guests. For example, Ari Popper’s interview on Innovation Crush is a great introduction to what he does and how it can help businesses.

2) Futurists write science fiction

From Jules Verne to H.G. Wells, some of the very first futurists were also science fiction writers. Two of this year’s speakers, Ian McDonald and Madeline Ashby, are keeping that tradition alive. Ian recently released his third novel in the Luna series – a trilogy that explores a future where the moon has been industrialized, and the power struggles that come along with it. Madeline has also published an impressive selection of novels and short stories, and recently announced that she’s one of the writers for the new season of Orphan Black. And even though he considers himself an amateur science fiction writer, futurist Ari Popper is such a fan of the genre that it inspired him to create his company, SciFutures, which uses sci-fi prototyping to help accelerate innovation. This New Yorker article offers fascinating insight into how he puts “corporate visioning” into practice

3) Futurists explore future scenarios

Well, that’s probably no surprise! But what are they researching and discussing? Depending on their area of expertise, futurists can cover everything from science, biotech and robotics to urban development, technology and workplace innovation. If you’re curious to know more about the biggest topics of the future, here are a couple of great places to start:

· The Institute of the Future has a thought-provoking blog where renowned experts cover a wide range of topics.

· Singularity Hub is a treasure trove of interesting future-focused articles that will keep you scrolling for days.

Got any other hot tips on where to learn more about futurists and what they do? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclaimer: The views of me Convention speakers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either Mercedes-Benz and/or SXSW.