Welcome Note 

Welcome to the fifth Foresight Conference, convened by the Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF). 


The Foresight Conference brings together participants of various backgrounds and from around the world to discuss emerging issues of strategic significance. The rich and lively discussions that take place during the Conference generate new ideas and fresh insights. These in turn help CSF in its role of facilitating systematic thinking in the Singapore Government about the volatile and complex world that we live in. 


The Foresight Conference is part of Singapore Foresight Week. It follows after the International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning Symposium (IRAHSS), which is organised by the National Security Coordination Secretariat in the Prime Minister’s Office.  


Over the years, Foresight Week has proven to be a wonderful opportunity to forge new connections and renew old friendships. Such connections are links in a global network that enrich our thinking about the future and enlarge our worldview. 


The 2017 Foresight Conference focussed on the future of Identities and Aspirations. Participants agreed that technology has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on identity, class, work and values. Since then, CSF has explored the interplay between technology and other driving forces that are shaping society such as demography and climate change.


The theme for this year’s Conference is Society 4.0, a natural segue from our 2017 Conference. The theme is shorthand to describe the society that will be and is already being shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Indeed, all aspects of society will be impacted by the complex effects of the 4IR. Like the previous three Industrial Revolutions, 4IR is likely to force societies into a “paradigm shift”.    


This Conference is an attempt to anticipate what society might look like under this new paradigm, through an exploration of four fundamental threads: individuals, relationships, time and value. 


The story of how we will arrive at Society 4.0 will not be a straightforward one. Undoubtedly it will be filled with twists and turns, shocks and surprises. Nevertheless, we are confident that this Conference will help us connect the many dots of this narrative by adding a diversity of perspectives, challenging assumptions and uncovering gaps in understanding, which will then lead to fresh ideas about how society might change and evolve. 


Much has already been said and written about the 4IR, so it is now an opportune moment for us to shift gears and dive deeper into a discussion about its implications for Society 4.0. This demands boldness and imagination. I am confident that this Conference will provide both. 


I wish all of you a meaningful Foresight Conference 2019. 


Peter Ho

Senior Advisor, Centre for Strategic Futures