Conjectural Futures Conference

An imperial futurological congress

Recently, the second Conjectural Futures Conference took place. The focus: identification, discussion and description of future-oriented developments and the exchange of best practices and foresight methods. Björn Theis, Head of Foresight, gives an insight into the two days in Potsdam.

Recently, my team and me hosted together with Deutsche Bahn, and Zero 360 the second Conjectural Futures Conference, inviting European foresight experts from diverse disciplines such as architecture, design, chemistry, engineering, energy, mobility research, fashion, strategy, speculative design, synthetic biology, quantum computing, and the arts.

The main goals of the convention: to identify, discuss and describe future-shaping developments in society, technology ecology, economy, and politics, as well as sharing best practices and new foresight methodologies to do so. These goals are of particular interest to the Creavis Foresight Team, as we will be developing an update of the Evonik GameChanger for our 2023 Foresight Focus Topic. In addition, the foresight team used this select group of experts to identify and describe possible wild cards. Wild cards are plausible future developments that have a low probability of occurring but will have a very large impact on society if they do happen. During the first day, all participants were asked by the Creavis Foresight Team to describe their ideas and knowledge about such plausible Wild Cards on prepared Wild Cards templates and to discuss them with the other participants.

For these aims, the conference  location, the Kaiserbahnhof in Potsdam, was a perfect choice: Here the artifacts of a mobility turning point in Germany’s history are on display, e.g., tracks from the first railroad connection in Germany, or railroad carriages of the German emperor – for me vivid symbols of the tremendous change that society has experienced in the field of mobility from the beginning of railroad systems in Germany from the midst of the 19th century to today.

Workshop during the conjectural futures conference.

The first day of the conference was about food for thoughts: The presentations of the keynote speakers Kwamou Eva Feukeu, Alexander Klose, Carolyn Steel, Rüdiger Trojok, Florian Neukart, Viktor Bedö, and Thalia Verkade gave input for discussions of future-relevant fields like biotechnology, city-planning, education, food systems, mobility, the post-fossil society, and quantum computing. Again, many thanks for these inspiring inputs! (Detailed information about the individual speakers and keynotes is available at:

The day ended with a fabulous contribution from an improvisation theater group that enacted some of the developed Wild Cards. These sometimes funny, sometimes thought-provoking performances opened up new perspectives on the possible consequences should such a Wild Card occur.

The second day was filled with workshops hosted by Deutsche Bahn, Evonik, Zero 360, The Future Game 2050 (by Frederike Riemers), the founders of the network ZUKÜNFTE, Stefanie Ollenburg and Martin A. Ciesielski, the speculative designers of NORMALS and Yannis Angelis and the painter Roman Lipski. These workshops offered learning experiences in the fields of future GameChanger identification, trend research, storytelling, serious play, sustainability, the translation of foresight insights into solid business cases as well as creating art with the help of an artificial intelligence muse. (If you would like to know more about the several workshops, please follow this link to the detailed workshop descriptions: :

As expected, the content gathered in the workshops is valuable for the work of the Evonik Foresight Team - especially for the upcoming Evonik GameChanger Update 2023. Therefore, again many thanks to Deutsche Bahn and Zero 360 for organizing this conference together with us, and to all participants for their inputs and contributions. I hope to see everyone again in this new year!