Futurity Systems : A company designing the future from research to design for a long-term & impact-oriented innovation
Her-Age team has interviewed Cecilia Mosze Tham, Founder & Social technologist at Futurity Systems which is a company specialized in designing the future from research to design for accelerating the corporate journey of tomorrow.
- Cecilia, can you tell us about yourself and what is your background in the tech Industry?
Born in HK, grew up in Macao and left for the US at 14 years old. I received my Bachelor degree in Biology and a master in Architecture at Harvard. Soon after, I moved to Barcelona, for the love of the city and have been my base ever since.
Started my first company Makers of Barcelona, the first coworking community of its kind in Barcelona. The hooked on entrepreneurship. Started FabCafe Barcelona, coffee shop meets digital fabrication. Then all women, an education platform to train the next generation of women leadership-in-tech made women by women. I also worked for the first moonshot factory in Europe, launched by Telefonica, spearheading the ideation team to create the engine as well as the projects for moonshot Telefonica. In 2020, in the midst of COVID, I decided to launch Futurity Systems, our own moonshot development platform to help companies and organizations tackle uncertainties for the future. We proactively prototype and engineer tangible desirable futures for our clients via emerging technologies ranging from AI to Blockchain.
- As a founder, what inspired you to start with Futurity systems ? and how did you develop it ?
There has been a lack of tools and methodologies in navigating the future and incorporating long term thinking into companies strategies. The need for this is more urgent than ever post COVID now that uncertainties and unintentional consequences are increasing … We took our learnings and experiences from building the moonshot factory for Telefonica into building Futurity Systems in providing these insights for companies. It's not about theorizing what might be in the future, it is about actively engineering what is possible and desirable. We build tangible prototypes to rapidly learn from what is possible and project those consequences based on data and 1st hand insights.
- What kind of companies do you help find growth opportunities and de-risk innovation ? and what strategies do you follow to find the best results to accelerate the business ?
We work with multinational companies and global organizations, specifically with their innovation and moonshot departments, in assessing and implementing their futuring needs. We find that long-term thinking strategies and future-driven innovation requires executive decision-making because companies need to look beyond the short-term horizon of their return of investments. We apply a three prong approach to hone in on the problem but intersecting strategic forecasts with a rigorous understanding of the capabilities of science-based emerging technology together with a creative design layer to synthesize future possibilities that we can test via prototyping.
- Your slogan is FUTURES-AS-A-SERVICE what does it refer to ? and why did you choose it to represent futurity systems ?
In plain and simple terms, we work for the future. We work to ensure an equitable and sustainable future, for generations to come, that is based on planetary inclusivity. Sometimes our work is difficult to understand, because we don't necessarily see value in investing in the future, because we live in the present. To make this relatable and understandable, we apply the same logic as other contemporary and necessary services of our time, such as software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service. In some ways, we are very similar to other anything-as-a-service providers, as we have our own data science and ML tools to help us navigate futures and innovations in an exponential way.
- As a Social Technologist how do you come up with solutions in the intersection between technology, impact, and business opportunity ?
We mainly use our methodology Synthesizing Futures as a way to integrate these different perspectives.
Synthesizing Futures is a four-step future-focused multidisciplinary approach to tackle uncertainties, understand emerging company needs, communicate vision, accelerate development, and plan a roadmap to desirable and sustainable future growth.
Mapping the Futures Space via Futures Wheel to generate multiple scenarios and solutions. The team collectively will create detailed projections of positive and negative consequences for both individuals as well as the company, to identify the most desirable courses of action for all. Here is the anatomy of what the Futures Wheel looks like.
Building Future Worlds involves creating context and narrative around your desired future idea. Combining techniques used in stories and screenplays, participants put themselves in the life of customers and users - thus improving the product idea and thinking through how to communicate it.
Designing Future Artifacts is about making prototypes for fast testing with colleagues, clients, and other audiences. Building and designing an artifact can also help you make decisions and open up new ideas and possibilities that a mere thought- or digital exercise would not uncover.
Creating Future Roadmaps or backcasting guides a plan of action in order to get to the desired future, by working backwards in steps to the present day from the future scenario you created.
In essence, Synthesizing Futures allow us to explore, ideate and prototype futures scenarios as means to rehearse and gain insights about the futures designed to weave through business strategies, design ideation, emerging technologies as well as potential impact.
- Futurity systems has announced the showcasing of the latest digital goods and artifacts as non-fungible plants. Can you tell more about plantiverse and what is the advantage of buying non-fungible trees ?
For centuries and millennia, humans have dominated the earth, dominating species, “domesticating” animals, and claiming ownership to nature and its resources.
As the consequences of our human centricities impact the earth, what if it is time for other non-humans to gain autonomy, and even rights, on par with humans?
Our project Plantiverse started out with this exploration of non-human rights for plants, by giving them autonomy.
We gave Herbie, our autonomous plant, autonomy, and that means that Herbie can make certain decisions, on his own. We put sensors to Herbie, light, ph, water reservoir, and humidity, and added mobility so that Herbie, when in need of water or light, will go to the water source / light source as needed.
As Herbie starts gaining mobility and decision making power, we started asking ourselves, can Herbie have economic power? What if Herbie is a herb plant and can deliver and sell its herbs and leaves to people? And if Herbie can sell, and can “earn” money, can Herbie have a bank account? Can Herbie, have ownership of things, vote, or even have planetary citizenship?
But how would that manifest in the real world?
With the latest development of decentralization of web 3, where data and trust are designed based on decentralized and individual non-custodial ownership of data and goods , could plants and other non-humans have the same access in the metaverse and could they, through their digital twins, gain these rights and empowerment?
This is the basis of the Plantiverse.
We enabled a family of plants, Herbie, Minty and a fleet of other plants, with sensors. These sensors, in turn, give readings that are then paired with a particular output of an image, Leave colors, for example, indicate water level...
The rendering, then, becomes a visualization of physiological status of the plant itself, essentially a digital twin, or avatar, of the plant in real life.
Not only so, we subsequently created a plant-governed DAO so that plants themselves will have the ability to decide how the funds of these NFTrees should be spent. If the water level is low, then the funds will then go towards water focused initiatives, for example.
After this first iteration, we are now working on the 2nd generation of NFTrees where the trees are now generated in 3D and can be “planted” via geolocation in the place of your choice and can be viewed via our own augmented reality application of SOFT (Store of Future Things) app.
In our future pipeline, we are hoping to extend this project and place sensors in the forest in the same capacity to monitor forestry health and convert those as NFTrees as well. Other initiatives, such as placing sensors in the ocean to monitor ocean health, can then be turned into NFSeas with visualizations of reefs and corals that people can buy and funds can go towards blue initiatives, NFBees for bee health.
This project is about using metaverse, NFT and digital twins as a mechanism for non-humans to gain equal rights so that we can truly establish a fully integrated and diverse approach to earth stewardship, an interspecies metaverse.
- In today's world how important is it to follow a sustainable business model and how can brands develop that ?
It is not only fundamental if not crucial to our survivability. Capitalism, while great in the past and helped many nations out of poverty, desperately needs to be reinvented and we are now looking at a regenerative economic model as an alternative.
Brands need to understand what is the total cost of consumption (economic, social, health, and most importantly environmental) and create a regenerative model that calculates all those factors to create net positive outcomes on all of the factors. One of the biggest theories we have at Futurity Systems, is that our consumption in the last 100 years has shifted from sustenance to pleasure, increasingly creating unsustainable and irresponsible consumption to a new level, combining with the fact that consumers are so many layers removed from the actual source of what they are consuming, therefore also psychologically removed from the true value of cost of what they have consumed. We looked at the need to separate essential consumption from hedonic consumption, and seek ways to replace our hedonic consumption digitally. Do we really need to buy that vase that has no utility that sits on our shelves or can we replace it with an NFT version that we can view via AR and can enjoy equally?
One way for brands to pivot is to understand how this shift to digital hedonic consumption could be a way to tackle unsustainable consumption without curbing our consumption appetite.
- We found that you have different plantbots herbie and minty ? What do they do and what is the difference between them ? are they out in the market to be sold to people
Yes, we have an army of plantbots whom we work for. Each of the plants is equipped with a body of sensors that relate their plant health status to us. They are our first line of experimental subjects to be replicated as digital twins, aka NFTrees for Plantiverse, our interspecies metaverse project. The plants are different in the same way that you and I are different. We are currently in the prototyping phase but the idea is that these sensors will be placed in forests or oceans, or other ecosystems, to create digital twins to monitor their health and progress, via the form of NFT and DAO for governance, transparency and traceability. Money that is raised via the sales of the NFTrees will be put back in funding sustainable projects. We are currently building the first plant-governed DAO so that the funds can be directed based on the needs of the plants themselves.
- What is the sustainable impact of the futurity system and how will it help protect the environment ?
I think it's really hard to say, but we are trying, like many others. We want to be in the position of being proactive in helping curb our unsustainable habits. It's a collective responsibility but it is one that we have to own up, for our past mistakes and for our unintended consequences.
- What is your future of the futurity systems and where do you see it going ?
We would like to see our tools, methods and even mindset being applied and used, insofar that it is helpful, and we will continue to improve our toolkits so that it is relevant to the application. We hope to drive Futurity Systems’ future based on purpose and impact. We hope to scale our impact via our expertise and capabilities as well as technologies that we see relevant.