Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
Place croissante de l'innovation, développement massif des technologies de l'information et de la communication, tertiarisation continue des pays développés, tels sont les trois phénomènes qui ont bouleversé l'économie mondiale depuis plus de 20 ans, valorisant ainsi l'économie de l'immatériel, facteur d'innovation et de croissance. La commission présidée par Maurice Lévy et Jean-Pierre Jouyet s'interroge sur les moyens de permettre à la France de surmonter ses faiblesses, notamment en termes de recherche, d'innovation ...
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Dans l'article introductif du numéro de GDI Impuls intitulé " Connaissance du futur ", Karin Frick et Stefan Kaiser font la synthèse d'une enquête envoyée à une vingtaine de prospectivistes dont Geoffrey Delcroix (Futuribles), Elisabetta Pasini (Future Concept Lab), Jonathan Said (Centre for Economics and Business Research) et Rohit Talwar (Global Future Forum). Comme le signalent les auteurs, on ne peut parler de " connaissance " à propos du futur, et l'article met en évidence les paradoxes auxquels est confrontée la ...
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Ce rapport s'inscrit dans la lignée des travaux réalisés depuis 1997 par le groupe « Prospective des métiers et qualifications » du Commissariat général du Plan, devenu Centre d'analyse stratégique. Il a été réalisé en collaboration avec la DARES (Direction de l'animation de la recherche et des statistiques, ministère de l'Emploi et de la cohésion sociale). Il examine en détail une vingtaine de domaines professionnels sous l'angle de la demande de travail (combien de personnes vont partir ...
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La prétention est de taille : « ce livre est plus complet, plus honnête, plus méthodique et systématique, plus pratique et tourné vers l'action que la plupart des livres de prospective classiques » annonce l'auteur page 11 (et le message est répété à plusieurs reprises). En réalité, le nouveau livre de Pero Micic, directeur de la société de conseil allemande Future Management Group, est un genre de manuel qui comprend deux parties : une introduction générale à ce qu'il appelle le ...
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As is clear from reading most of the articles in this special issue, all the scenarios for stabilizing or reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to "acceptable" limits require a real effort to tackle the growth of energy consumption. As Véronique Lamblin emphasizes here, all possible means of increasing energy supplies (especially by improving yields or lowering the costs of production technologies) are to be welcomed; nevertheless, this approach alone will probably not be sufficient, given the current concerns about climate change.
Consequently, after highlighting the crucial importance of dealing with the energy problem, she presents here some possible ways of reducing energy consumption in the industrialized countries: production technologies involving a lower carbon content, cutting back demand for electricity and energy for transport, intelligent devices for detecting and reducing waste, management of energy use in housing, industry and vehicles, substitution between products and services, etc. Unfortunately, despite many possibilities that already exist or are in prospect, tackling energy consumption remains a taboo subject, especially because it is too often wrongly understood as holding back economic growth, and it does not attract the amount of effort (in terms of technological or socio-organizational research, for example) needed to match the stakes involved.
This is one of the major failures of both governments and business, in France, in Europe, and throughout the world. It is obvious that if active measures are not taken soon to improve matters, stabilizing the greenhouse gas emissions and thus limiting global warming will remain merely pious hopes.
France, like Europe, is getting older. This is not a recent phenomenon but the situation is being aggravated as the baby-boom generation arrives in ever increasing numbers among the ranks of the retired population, whose life-expectancy is growing, while the generations following behind are less numerous and their pension contributions are no longer enough to ensure that the system is in balance. One of the solutions proposed as a way of making up this financial shortfall would be to raise the retirement age or, better still, to extend the years of working life. Yet in fact the trend, at least in France, is instead towards stopping work early, before even the legal pension age.
One of the reasons for early retirement is that the labour market does not encourage the employment of older workers, who are sometimes considered to be less efficient than younger people. Catherine Delgoulet, Michel Millanvoye and Serge Volkoff have been examining the capacities of older workers for a long time. With evidence from many studies undertaken in France and other countries on a range of job categories, they present here the realities of the situation for ageing workers and challenge certain widely held notions.
In particular, they stress that performance on the job "does not inevitably decline with age and it is rather the method of measuring performance that needs to be questioned". They also show that this performance much depends on working conditions, as some situations create greater difficulties for older workers than others (shift work, painful positions, etc.). They emphasize above all that older workers are often quite aware of the problems that come with advancing years and compensate for them in practice, either individually or in the collective organization of their work. This adjustment shows that it is possible to extend working life, provided (of course) that there is a genuine effort to make suitable arrangements for work and training throughout life and to derive maximum benefit from the professional experience of older workers.
This text complements the article in this issue on the ability of older people to stay in work by looking at how one particular sector - insurance - is dealing with an ageing workforce.
Gérard Lobjeois, head of the organization that monitors employment change in the sector (the Observatoire de l'évolution des métiers de l'assurance) first describes the various attempts in different branches of insurance to predict the consequences of ageing on staff over the next 10 years. In addition to those who stop work at the official retirement age, others are encouraged by widely practised policy to retire early, which he stresses is a serious problem that could well make for difficulties in future. It is therefore important to sustain the jobs and the professional motivation of older workers: those who are now in their 50s, obviously, but also those now in their 40s who will be the 50+ age-group of tomorrow.
The author then sketches a portrait of these cohorts (40-49 years, 50-59 years, but also 60 and over), by sub-groups, showing how much room for manoeuvre there is, at branch level, to achieve better management of these ageing workers and to prevent sudden labour shortages from occurring. In particular, he emphasizes the need to invest in training and to valorize the experience of these older workers so as to maintain their employability and their capacity to move between jobs and be promoted, and hence to encourage them to want to stay in work as long as possible. This is an admirable lesson in how to manage staff numbers and skills proactively...
For the majority of decision-makers, in both the political and economic spheres, sustainable development has become an unavoidable concept that must be taken into account in most fields of activity. For some years a new approach, called the "service economy", has been evolving, able to contribute to sustainable development, in particular because it could significantly reduce both the consumption of raw materials and the production of polluting emissions.
Dominique Bourg and Nicolas Buclet describe in this article what the "service economy" involves, i.e. "substituting the sale of the use of a good for the sale of the good itself". With the help of actual experiments on the part of various firms (such as Michelin, Electrolux, Xerox), they show the benefits of this approach as well as the problems and pitfalls that must be avoided in order not to fail. They also stress that adopting this approach, which means giving priority to the supply of services in the long term over the production of goods in the narrow sense, does not hinder innovation, rather the opposite.
Although the service economy is still little known and too rarely practised in the business world, it is undoubtedly a key way forward towards sustainable development. However, because it overturns long-established patterns of production and consumption, major efforts will probably be required in order to convince both producers and consumers that it is worthwhile.
Well before the end of the 30 years of steady economic growth in France known as the "Trente Glorieuses" and the start of the downturn that is still affecting the economy, Pierre Bonnaure points out the country's weaknesses that were already identifiable (and could therefore have been tackled). In fact in a book published in 1956 which attempted to foresee how France might develop between that date and 1970, André Maurois listed some nascent problems that could reduce France to becoming a distinctly average economic power.
Since then the world has undergone huge changes but the observation remains relevant and recurs every year in some book or article: France is in a bad way and the French reject all attempts at reform. Faced with this intractable diagnosis, nothing is likely to change, doubtless because the politicians failed to take notice soon enough of the lessons to be learned from studies of the future such as that of André Maurois.
Futuribles has devoted much space in the last year to the problems of research, and in particular its organization. In a recent article (n° 306, March 2005), Catherine Paradeise and Jean-Claude Thoenig argued that it is essential to consult everyone involved in the research system and to explain to them, step by step if necessary, the need for changes in the hopes that the reform might then be carried through, with particular reference to France.
We continue the debate on this question with an article describing the Japanese experience of reforming their research system. Michel Israël shows how the Japanese radically overhauled their system by means of several five-year plans. Above all, he highlights the current major reform of the national universities which affects their method of hiring to research posts; partnerships between universities, industry and government; the creation of centres of excellence, etc. Key words here are competition, autonomy, releasing creativity and more flexible management. He also describes how this reform, which aims to restore Japan as a leader in research internationally, has been welcomed and implemented by the main players involved. The reform may not yet be completed, but it is well under way; it remains to be seen what its impact will be on Japan's performance in research in the next few years.
This article presents the uchronia imagined by Philip Roth in his recent novel, The Plot against America (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004, 391 pp), a look back at the years 1940-1942 in the United States, drawing on a mixture of his own experience and various real events of the time. What would have happened if Charles Lindbergh had run for President in 1940 and had won against Roosevelt? Would the United States have played the same role in the Second World War?
Daniel Bell's book The Coming of Post-industrial Society. A Venture in Social Forecasting (New York: Basic Books, 1973) was the product of much research during the 1950s. It became a classic reference for sociologists and was very quickly seized upon (not to say exploited) by those concerned with future studies. They found in it solid arguments and valuable insights into the evolution of Western societies.
In this extract from the introduction, Bell starts by reminding readers of what distinguishes forecasting from prediction. He then examines the main types of forecasting: technological, demographic, economic, political and social. The exercises in "social forecasting" seem to him to be the most important, to be given the highest priority, although they are also extremely difficult to carry out because so many, often imprecise variables have to be taken into account. To get around this difficulty, his advice is to rely on a rigorous theoretical framework and on good empirical indicators: future studies are not possible without a minimum of conceptual thinking and an objective awareness of current realities.
Finally, he puts this advice into practice by suggesting the best way, in his view, to understand the emergence of the "post-industrial society". Bringing together facts and theories, he concludes that this new model of society can be observed in five major trends: towards a service economy; the pre-eminence of the professional and technical class; the primacy of applied theoretical knowledge; the planning and control of technological growth; and lastly the rise of a new "intellectual technology".
This last point is fundamental in his eyes, and it leads him to talk (long before such notions were fashionable) about a "knowledge-based society" and "the information society". At the same period, other writers shared Bell's conclusions; we should remember, for example, that the term "post-industrial" was coined by David Riesman in the United States in 1958. During the 1960s, in France, Raymond Aron, Alain Touraine and André Gorz were developing similar analyses. At the time, their conclusions caused surprise; now they have become reality.
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) is held to be one of the most prolific science fiction writers of his generation. He was born in Russia, exiled to the United States with his family at the age of three, and took American citizenship in 1928. He wrote his first stories (unpublished) at the age of 11 while continuing to study, gaining his doctorate in chemistry in 1948.
His first story (Marooned off Vesta) was published in the magazine Amazing in 1939. There followed over a hundred stories, enriched by Asimov's wide scientific learning, and they made him one of the greatest science fiction writers of the 20th century. His best known work is probably the Foundation cycle. The Robots series is the other cornerstone of his oeuvre, in which Asimov explores all sorts of relationships between men and machines, foreseeing most of the developments in electronics that have occurred to date - but not, however, the miniaturization of computers.
The short story reprinted here belongs to that series. It comes from the collection entitled Robot Dreams and deals with the problems that a human being can face when obliged to rely on the decisions of a machine he has himself created and that has been fed with data produced by other humans. A recurring theme in futures studies - "Garbage In, Garbage Out" - underlies Henderson's remarks about the central computer: "Then just a big machine. No better than the information fed into it."
A lively debate has been going on simultaneously in France for several years on several topics:
- "the decline of France", the decline of manufacturing and the fact that the economy is falling behind that of other industrialized countries, especially the United States and the rapidly growing developing nations in Asia;
- the ups and downs of research in France and, worse still, the country's poor showing with regard to technological development and innovation.
Futuribles has made a major contribution to this debate, including publishing numerous articles criticizing the lack of a satisfactory policy to foster research and innovation, and putting forward various proposals for improving the situation.
The French government, as is now standard practice, has announced that it will soon present to parliament (though this keeps being postponed) a draft bill about research and innovation; the preliminary proposals, insofar as they are yet known, appear to rely heavily on the creation of a "national research agency".
At the same time, the French President has asked Jean-Louis Beffa, the highly respected CEO of the firm Saint-Gobain, to draw up a report published on 15 January 2005 entitled Pour une nouvelle politique industrielle (Towards a New Industrial Strategy).
The preliminary proposals and, more particularly, the Beffa Report, are examined here by André-Yves Portnoff, who criticizes yet again this typically French gambit of not only piling on even more laws and regulations, but now creating more and more quangos, relying exclusively on major public programmes to be run by large (often state-owned) firms and geared to supplying the public sector. Past experience has shown that this approach, except in certain specific sectors, has had limited success. It would be much better to foster innovation of all kinds by smaller firms that are more in touch with the market.
La société de conseil Forecasting International suit depuis longtemps les grandes tendances du monde contemporain. Son président, Martin Cetron, et Owen Davies, journaliste scientifique, résument dans cet article les changements à l'oeuvre dans les domaines économique, social, démographique et environnemental, en les illustrant de faits qu'ils jugent significatifs, et en en dégageant les implications pour les décideurs. Ainsi, après avoir rappelé les projections de population mondiale du Census Bureau, ils avancent l'idée que celles-ci sous-estiment peut-être la ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.