Jason Tester & Lonny Avi Brooks
Research Affiliate / Institute For The Future (IFTF)
Jason Tester is a Research Affiliate with the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a non-profit futures research group in Palo Alto, California, and is recently on sabbatical after ten years as a Research Director with the Institute.
At IFTF Jason had the opportunity to become one of the world’s leading forecasters of emerging technologies—the future forms and potential applications of media and communications tools that will connect people, amplify messages, influence attitudes and behaviors, and immerse us in other realities in transformative new ways. Envisioning the impacts of this research led Jason to work extensively in areas of work and human resources, marketing and strategy, health, education, urban planning, leadership, identity, and activism.
In addition to leading original research at IFTF, Jason worked deeply with Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, and civil sector organizations to understand the future and apply foresight to a broad range of urgent issues. Over the decade Jason led major foresight projects with Intel, Disney/ABC, Electronic Arts, Deloitte, Procter and Gamble, Toyota, the U.S. Navy, NATO, United Cerebral Palsy, AARP, the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes, the Arcus Foundation, and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Supporting the Institute’s mission of public interest in the future, Jason pioneered new ways to engage larger groups in thinking about their individual and collective futures, including immersive experiences, interactive scenarios and simulations, personal toolkits, and online platforms for idea generation and dialogue.
Jason’s work at IFTF and in academia, as well as his thoughts on the future, have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Wired, and on MSNBC and CNN. Jason received a master’s degree in human-computer interaction design from the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy, where his project on future scenarios for political voting provoked responses around the world, and a bachelor of science in human-computer interaction from Stanford University, where he helped to found the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, the first academic research lab to study the potential of technology to change attitudes and behaviors.
Lonny Avi Brooks
Associate Professor and Afrofuturist & Afroqueer forecaster / California State University, East Bay
Lonny J Avi Brooks is an Associate Professor in Communication at California State University, East Bay, where he has piloted the integration of futures thinking into the communication curriculum for the last fifteen years. Emerging in recent years as a leading voice of Afrofuturism 2.0, Brooks contributes prolifically to journals, conferences and anthologies on the subject, as well as serving as executive producer and co-creator, with Ahmed Best, of The Afrofuturist Podcast.
He is currently the lead co-editor for a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Futures Studies: When is Wakanda? Afrofuturism and Dark Speculative Futurity. He is lead organizer and advisory board member for the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) in Oakland and principal leader for BSAM Futures, which aims to publish comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative analyses of contemporary Afrocentric works and studies. He also volunteers as a core member for outreach at Dynamicland.org, a pioneering non-profit dedicated to creating a more collaborative and dynamic computational medium for the long term.
Imagining Queer Futures with an Afrofuturist perspective
We develop Queering the Futures as an alternative lens to recreate, reframe current future visions that usually project racial, segregated, and elite future landscapes.
The demographics of forecasting, who forecasts the future and towards what ends reinforce beliefs of racial segregation and discrimination. Creating a language for queering the future involves retelling, critiquing the forecasts being deployed and forecasts in the making. We augment visions of anticipatory democracy as a vital social network for purposes of social justice and diversity in bringing forth Afrofuture frames and tactics. Africological theories see ntu, universal life rhythms and the holistic human being and “treat human behaviors as manifestations of the spirit/forces behind and between words, images, illusions and other signs” (Woodyard 2003, 21).
In this presentation, Lonny Avi Brooks and Jason Tester rethink how forecasting works to imagine our futures while simultaneously visualizing black fantastics of radically empowering and queer diversity. Queer in this instance means to “queer the Infrastructure. . . . To queer: to challenge the basis on which categories are constructed” (Susan Leigh Star, 2002). In the spirit of Esteban Munoz (2009), we queer the categories of futures studies, and foresight as they are practiced and relate to the social.
They look to Afrofuturism that combines science fiction and fantasy to re-examine how the future especially of Africans and the Black Diaspora is currently imagined and to re-construct futures thinking. As slavery forced Africans to confront an alien world surrounded by colonial technologies (Dery 1994;Eshun 2003), those in the queer world of otherness from gay to lesbian, bisexual and transgendered have undergone cyclical periods of repression and journeys through horrific epidemics such as AIDS similarly engulfed by colonial rhetorics of political and medical power.
Imagine a game and map of the fictitious nation of United Queerdom (UQ), where various queer tribes live, celebrate and imagine their cultural futures. The quest? To journey through, observe and partake in these shared imaginations, how might we create a shared memory of the future by creating pathways, quests and visions of a collective queer future by the year 2054 in an imagined transformative space such as the UQ? The UQ aims to create spaces founded on other foundations than the master’s tools, house and land.
Lonny and Jason will introduce and describe Queer Futures: United Queerdom 2054 as a new game we created to generate objects and paper prototypes of participants’ individual and collective imaginations, and aspirations for a Queer future.