Reon’s 2010 report, Rethinking value in a changing landscape, centers on emerging value paradigms, exploring how value is changing for people and society. Innovation is based on a deep understanding of how value is changing for people and how socio-cultural paradigms are developing. In the industrial and experience economies, for example, value was created by companies who had the power to invent, mass-produce, and deliver. The knowledge economy changed these rules and transformed the principle of value chains into value networks. Ordinary people can now create value that competes with traditional businesses.
Reon’s 2019 report, Co-Emerging Futures, describes two parallel tracks unfolding in the world today. These trajectories are not individual scenarios, but rather co-emerging, diverging futures directions driven by different mindsets, beliefs, and interests:
In the “Trans-mutation” trajectory, humans aspire to shape their own evolution and augment themselves and their manmade environment according to their own needs. It is based on a fundamental right that humans have to exploit nature for their own benefit and progress. The Trans-mutation track divides into two directions: Immortalia and Etherea.
Immortalia captures humankind’s obsession with achieving longevity and eventually immortality. Trans-humanism is based on a strongly anthropocentric and material worldview that puts human ingenuity and progress above all. Through technologies such as sensors, implants, gene therapy, and gene editing, those who can afford it will be able to vastly transcend the capabilities of ordinary (non-augmented) human beings.
Etherea aims to achieve the technological transcendence of humans by abandoning our biological existence. Post-humanists believe that the time has come to abandon the fight for the environment and replace it with the pursuit of a nobler technology-based intelligence. Post-biologists value humans far more than any other species because they believe that human consciousness and sentience make us unique. In essence, post-humanists seek to pursue a future where the human mind is uploaded into an intelligence machine. They believe the shift towards a technological medium of existence will offer us an escape from mortality, but also from suffering and the ecological plight of the planet.
The “Transformation” trajectory requires a transformation of how we live, consume, and produce to prevent further decline of our environment and the ecosystem at large. Given the critical state of our natural ecosystems and the growing threat of global climate change, the transformative mindset will look for ways to harmonize humanity’s relationship with the environment to ensure a healthy planet. The Transformation track splits again into two streams: Habitania and Gaia.
Habitania aims to pursue sustainability to create a steady state between humans and the planet. Ultimately, Habitania is rooted in the belief that we can implement solutions to manage scarce natural resources in a sustainable way for the benefit of all humanity through a combination of legislation that recognizes planetary limits and harnesses scientific progress. It is still a utilitarian mindset, but one that recognizes planetary limits and assumes that humans can “manage” the planet and its ecosystems in a sustainable way. It sees humans as acting custodians of nature, cooperating to find a balance between the needs of the planet and human aspirations. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement are examples of this sustainability narrative.
Gaia sees all life and the planet as a single eco-entangled system and pursues a future of regenerating vibrant and healthy ecosystems. Gaia is rooted in “Gaia Theory,” developed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. It describes how a complex systemic interaction between living ecosystems and the geology of the planet makes the planet suitable for life to flourish. The Gaia metaphor compels us to look at our place in the ecosystem not as humans versus the environment, but as active agents that are part of a larger ecosystem. Gaia emphasizes the natural dynamic balance and interconnected interplay between all living things and the geological ecosystem.