First preliminary results of EDA’s Technology Foresight Exercise 2021 are now available in our website: details of the innovative methodology applied, the so-called ‘Futures Narratives’ and some key trends and developments likely to occur in the future. In the meantime, the final analysis of the exercise findings is still underway with the objective to be completed by the end of this year.
The methodology applied and activities developed throughout 2021 were designed to support the central objective of EDA’s Technology Foresight Exercise: the identification of new technologies, weak signals and innovative trends to support the R&T and capability planning processes and inform future defence policies and programmes of the EU and its Member States. To achieve that, the exercise looked up to 20 years into the future, to provide a strategic vision of the possible impact those new technologies will have on defence in 2040 and beyond.
From Future Narratives to Divergent Thinking to Convergent Thinking
The exercise stretched over 2021, with successive sessions that brought together different experts, know-how and foresight creativity. Thanks to the wide variety of ideas provided by a multidisciplinary group of foresight experts, so-called ‘Futures Tellers’, multiple possible futures were described in the Futures Narratives. Initially created as food-for-thought to spark the initial discussions among the participating experts, the narratives were meant to widen our vision and imagination about what could be possible towards 2040+, and also what kind of challenges this would entail. Descriptions of the Futures Narratives are now available on EDA’s dedicated website on the Technology Foresight activities.
Based on these narratives, other experts then engaged into a ‘Divergent Thinking’ process with the aim of narrowing down what the afore-mentioned narratives could potentially mean for security and defence in the future. As a result, a set of 14 key challenges and developments has been identified, providing a general and high-level a vision of the future in 2040. A summary of the Divergent Thinking results are also available on the exercise website.
Final analysis still ongoing
The security and defence-related trends identified in the Divergent Thinking process are currently being analysed and converged into clusters (‘Convergent Thinking’ process) with the aim to deduct from them hints about potential disruptive technologies and innovations that will be needed in the future to cope with those developments. A report about the final outcome of the whole foresight exercise is due to be published before the end of this year.
The exercise findings will eventually:
- provide a high-level, long-term vision on multiple possible futures with defence relevance, with a special focus of the impact of emerging disruptive technologies;
- inform the 2022 review of the EU’s Capability Development Plan (CDP), in particular the CDP’s Strand B (long term);
- produce an input for future updates of the other EDA prioritisation tools such as the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) or the Key Strategic Activities (KSAs), as well as the preparative work for the EU’s Strategic Compass.
The exercise was based on a new EDA technology foresight methodology which combines different existing methods and processes, along with best practices and lessons learned from the wider EDA community of foresight practitioners. To facilitate outside-the-box thinking, the methodology foresaw different activities, which were taken place along 2021, involving experts from different international organisations, Ministries of Defence, as, as well as from non-governmental bodies, academia, industry, and civil society.