A look at what – and who – is pushing the future in new directions

PUSH 2006: A New Life


Welcome Letter

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We made it through another year of challenges, changes ad surprises both large and small. Last year we focused on The Geography of Change, unearthing the ways in which the deepest, subterranean forces shaping human civilization – environment, fuel, technology, and demographics – are approaching dramatic tipping points, rearranging the terrain of future and fate.

And this year we saw a whole lot of tipping going on: natural disasters of epic proportions rattled our consciousness; gas prices spiked then spiked some more; the hybrid car arrived into the mainstream; Google took on Microsoft and China; South Korean government announced its plan to put a robot in every south Korean household by 2010; and the American public happily continued its migration to opposing polarities on every topic from abortion to the war. Read More…

Truly, life as we know it is coming to an end. The only constant seems to be the voracious rate of change and innovation racing across every aspect of our economic and social landscape. Conventional practices and plans are being pushed toward obsolescence, rendering a future that few have imagined.

We are crossing into a new life, a life in which all that makes us most human is being reformulated. As we’ll learn over the course of the next few days, our biology, our universe, our environment, our reality, our tools and capacities are all in the process of reconfiguration. The most pressing question through all this change is not so much how we define what it is to be human, but the ways in which we describe the human experience: love, home, family, community, innovation, hope and imagination. There, at the crossroads of dramatic change and essential humanity is where we’ll find out new life. It is also from this vantage point that we will see where we, as organizations and individuals, will lay the foundation for committed action, positioning ourselves not re-actively, but as co-creators, strategists, and our own best futurists.

Our hope is that you’ll take full advantage of these next few days as a privileged opportunity to open your mind, dive in, and discover what exciting new possibilities are opening up inside A New Life. We also encourage you to make the most what’s here – your fellow travelers – and jump into debate, discussion and discovery with those around you. Welcome to push 2006!

Cecily Sommers
The Push Institute



Welcome to the alternative reality of the virtual world, complete with its own economies, games, etiquette, big players and, of course, big questions. As our personal lives (will you be my friend?), business transactions (A song from iTunes for $0.99? Customer Relationship Management “cloud software” for $250/user/month?), and social institutions (Want to e-file your taxes for a faster refund, deposited directly to your account?) are increasingly pushed into the ether of the world-wide-web, An exploration of virtual reality, virtual economies, gaming, and a world that’s spending more and more time online. We’ll take the long view of what this virtual society, and an ambiguous collective definition of reality, means for us all.

NEW CONSTRUCTIONS: Recreation of the Human

It’s been the subject of “experiment gone awry” stories from Frankenstein to The Terminator. Throughout time, humans have been both fascinated with and frightened by the power to create and define life. Advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology and physics have now made this fiction an astounding reality, with major reverberations for ethics, economics, and strategy. We’ll take a rare look at the forefront of human evolution from leading scientists, physicists and others.

SOCIAL DANCES: Networks, Power, Meaning

The extraordinary rate of innovation and change has been incredibly disruptive, stimulating and challenging the way people mediate community, power, and meaning. As social connections become both more personal and transitory, their power to move markets, movements, and social mores is amplified by technology, at warped speed, around the globe. What is the impact on globalization, and on us? How do we now define our “world” and place ourselves among these intersecting networks of values, politics, and personal meaning?

DOMESTIC BLISS: Styled Lives & Loves

Here’s where we really get personal. As we continue to create increasingly customized worlds around us—from custom car interiors to virtual realities limited only by our whims and imaginations—how will this affect our experiences of style, of design, of beauty, and even good old-fashioned love?