• ReedSmith (map)
  • 1510 Page Mill Rd # 110,
  • Palo Alto, CA 94304


Exploring Decision-Making Under Growing Uncertainty (in Silicon Valley and Beyond)

How do we—as individuals, public institutions, small and large enterprises, and other forms of organizations—think about the future in the context of accelerating change, exponential technologies, disruption and growing political uncertainty? What is the current state of “future foresight”—the ways in which we think about the forces that may drive future change, how they will help shape the future, as we seek useful insights into what the future may look like? How has foresight analysis evolved over time—and are the tools of future foresight work relevant for Silicon Valley where the focus is on creating the futurre? What have we learned from successes and failures of the past, and what tools and methodologies should business executives and managers consider using today as they prepare their future business investment strategies and resource allocation?

This session will bring together some of the leading Silicon Valley-based futurists and technology and business thinkers—who have worked for many years at leading future-focused organizations in Silicon Valley—as well as a visiting Nordic academic (Adrienne Sörbom), who is now a visiting scholar at SCANCOR at Stanford University. We will hear a bit about their past and current work around futurism, as well as how they are currently thinking about future issues and developments on the global, regional, national and local fronts.

As always, our sessions are highly interactive, with plenty of opportunities for attendees to engage the panelists with questions. Please join us for what will likely be a very interesting and high energy discussion addressing a range of issues and topics.


  • Adrienne Sörbom. Associate Professor of Sociology, Research Director, Stockholm University, visiting scholar at Stanford University, Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research. Adrienne Sörbom's research examines political globalization, particularly in relation to non-state actors such as think tanks, research institutes, NGOs, trade unions and social movements. Sörbom is working on the projects "Political affairs – the World Economic Forum as a global actor between market and politics"; ”Global Policy Brokers: The Role of Transnational Think Tanks in Shaping Policy Agendas”; Govemark: The Governance of Markets; ”Global Foresight: Anticipatory Governance and the Making of Geo-Cultural Scenarios”. In these projects Adrienne investigates ideas and practices of think tanks, research institutes and NGOs with the interest of foreseeing and sometimes also formatting the future. In this panel Adrienne Sorbom will specifically address challenges for futurist organizing.

  • Jim Spohrer. Dr. James (“Jim”) C. Spohrer is Director of Cognitive OpenTech, or open source artificial intelligence. Previously, he was Director of IBM Global University Programs and IBM’s Cognitive Systems Institute Group. Jim co-founded IBM’s first Service Research group, ISSIP Service Science community, and was founding CTO of IBM’s Venture Capital Relations Group in Silicon Valley. In the 1990’s, he was awarded Apple Computers’ Distinguished Engineer Scientist and Technology title for his work on next generation learning platforms. Early in his career, he was a senior scientist at Verbex, an Exxon company, working on speech recognition and machine learning. Jim has a Yale PhD in Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence and MIT BS in Physics. His current team and system building focus is T-shaped innovators working to rebuild rapidly from scratch digital cognitive systems for smarter/wiser service systems. With over ninety publications and nine patents, he is also a PICMET Fellow and a winner of the Evert Gummesson Service Research award as well as the S-D Logic award.

  • Brock Hinzmann. Brock Hinzmann has spent nearly 40 years as a futures researcher and “sensemaker” at SRI International (formerly, Stanford Research Institute) and at SRI spinoff consulting companies in a wide range of technology and business areas. He has consulted to industrial companies and government agencies to implement programs in horizon scanning and foresight, the creation of futures scenarios, opportunity discovery workshops, and the creation of technology road maps. He worked on such projects as Energy Scan meetings in 2001 and 2002 with commercial and national oil companies, which forecast future impacts of early signals of change, The Future of Manufacturing (US National Institute of Science and Technology), future scenarios in climate change (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and future scenarios in the global health care system (Society of Chairs of Academic Radiological Departments). He contributed to the US National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2025 and Global Trends 2030 forecasting reports. Brock is currently a partner in Business Futures Network (a UK-based foresight consulting company), which recently produced scenarios of the future of megacities. He is co-chairman of the Silicon Valley Node of the Millennium Project, a network of futurists in over 65 countries, which has produced scenarios of the future of technology and work and the future of terrorism (for NATO). He is also Chair of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of ASM International (the advanced materials society), which offers 9 technical meetings each year. He has a BA in International and Germanic studies from Willamette University and an MBA in international business from San Francisco State University.


  • Eilif Trondsen. Eilif—a transplanted Norwegian who has spent his whole professional life in Silicon Valley—has led and participated in a number of syndicated research programs and numerous consulting projects during his 35 years at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) and Strategic Business Insights (a spin-out from SRI, located on the Menlo Park campus of SRI). Eilif has also been Adjunct Professor of Economics at a number of Bay Area universities. Most of his work has focused on eCommerce, Learning, Innovation, and Virtual Technologies, and in recent years much of his work has focused on the Nordic region, especially Finland and Norway, including projects for Tekes and the Norwegian Research Council, and two projects funded by Nordic Innovation. He is currently the project leader of a new Nordic Innovation project awarded to Silicon Vikings, which will build a Nordic EdTech Network. He has been a Board member of Silicon Vikings for the last 5 years, and have been the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Entrepreneurship and Learning since its beginning