Analysis: Forum for the Future proposes a "Planned-opolis"

The United Kingdom-based think tank Forum for the Future has proposed some interesting views of city life in the future. Their recent animated video depicting a “Planned-opolis” flew under the world’s technology and science radars at the end of last year.

First a little background on Forum for the Future.


On their website we can see that the nonprofit organization has some powerful allies in “business, government, education and the voluntary sector.”

Some well-known names are PepsiCo UK, Thompson Reuters, and Vodafone. The full list is much larger, and it’s clear that a lot of powerful global corporations and UK government agencies are backing this think tank. Nevertheless, they still make the claim on their website that they’re an “independent, non-profit organization.”

They say that their goal is to basically help the UK’s public and private sector deal with the problems of climate change, overpopulation, and consumption of resources by our use of energy, water, raw materials in publications, office supplies and furniture.


They want a future that’s environmentally sustainable and socially just, that’s the basic summary of their mission after sorting through a lot of information on their website.

Near the end of last year they presented people with videos of four scenarios they have envisioned for the future based on current global trends in food, energy, transportation health and technology. The most interesting of the bunch was a video about a city called Planned-opolis.

Megacities on the move – Planned-opolis from Forum for the Future on Vimeo.

That’s because daily activity in Planned-opolis is carefully regulated. We know this because we get a carefully regulated tour around the city by one of its fictional inhabitants named “Vee.”

Vee and her family have to use tightly controlled calorie cards on their smartphones to make sure they don’t eat more than their rationed amount of food. Their lives in the cities are highly managed by government and personal transportation is only available to the elite.

Vee even mentions that she’s so glad that she can just shut her brain off while she rides public transportation because a mega computer controls the entire city. We see that their chance to advance their careers is limited by what the government chooses for them and that their food supply is controlled by a global food council (Monsanto?) that provides them only with what they need, not what they want.

And since meat is bad for humans and mother earth, they only get it on their birthdays.

This dystopian future is but one scenario Forum for the Future dreams up for the UK on their website. The other three are not as Orwellian as a Planned-opolis, but they all basically show scenarios where people are forced to lower their standard of living and give up their individuality for what they are told is the greater good by social engineers.

And then there is this official quote about their four scenario videos that makes it difficult to understand what kind of society it is that they want to build.

“Forum for the Future’s scenarios are not predictions or depictions of desirable futures which we wish to promote, and they do not represent our vision of a sustainable future. They are pictures of different possible futures, designed to help people understand the major trends that are shaping our world. They aim to challenge, inspire and excite, so that people feel motivated to plan for a better, more sustainable future.”   

I’m not sure what kind of technologically advanced, socially just UK Forum for the Future is in support of. All I can tell is that based on the information on their website they want one of the scenarios they’ve imagined, or a combination of the four.

The fact that they have corporate money in their coffers makes me think that they have another agenda besides using technology to make the UK a greener and more socially just place to live.