Author: Jack Moran

Trouble at 30,000 feet: considering customer needs

Innovation is imperative for any company seeking to retain their leadership position in competitive markets, but drives to innovate can all-too-frequently forget the end-user. For one globally renowned commercial aerospace provider, they knew that they needed to remind their most important innovators – their engineers – to foreground user experience if they were to restore an ailing reputation. As this client began a company wide transformation, the power of storytelling illustrated the importance of considering customer needs when innovating.

Unforeseen floods in the sky

For the leadership team at our aerospace client, it was high time to take urgent steps to adapt to their changing, expanding market – and remain competitive in the duopoly that they inhabited. This was no small ask: this adaptation would involve expanding their global industrial operations, clearing a decade-long production backlog, and meeting historically-high demand for air travel. In doing so, they hoped to restore customer confidence in their services, enhancing both quality and punctuality. 

Speedily strategising, they placed innovation at the heart of these efforts. They convened their brightest engineers, and asked them to devote their ingenuity to re-purposing a lightweight, short distance aircraft in ways that would allow it to meet the soaring demand for long-haul flights.

Enthusiastic and expert in equal measure, their engineers got to work. Undaunted by either the complexities of the task or the tight deadlines constraining them, they were soon designing, experimenting, iterating, improving, painstakingly projecting the increases in engine capacity, fuel requirements, and other technical tweaks needed to equip the aircraft for extended journeys. Soon – and on schedule – they were rolling out their enhanced aircraft for their first test flights.

After careful trials, all conducted without any obvious flaw, the new craft were released for commercial travel. With no small amount of satisfaction, the engineers applauded their efforts: a difficult job executed excellently.

A short while into the first flight, however, as the plane neared the last ninety minutes of its ten-hour journey, passengers across the cabin began to complain. Seeking to make necessary use of the plane’s amenities, they had soon realised that doing so would be too much to stomach. For all bathrooms, having seen no increase in capacity, had begun to flood. Soon, numerous reports of the same problem were reaching senior management. The client’s engineers had taken great pains to consider the challenges involved from a technical perspective – but had failed to factor user experience into their planning.

Considering customer needs

For a client seeking to improve their reputation for quality, this bathroom blunder was highly embarrassing. However, it was also a perfect starting point for their efforts to train their engineers to consider how their services would be experienced by end-users. The story was placed front-and-centre of a company-wide strategy designed to improve design processes, modernise outdated assets – and clear a decade-long production backlog. 

As emotive and memorable as it was embarrassing, the eventual results – a consistent reduction in design issues and cross-company improvement in production quality – stand as a testament to the power of storytelling to change design practices across an organisation. 

To discover how storytelling can transform your business, download our e-book, Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change

The pandemic care package: putting customers first

Bringing values to life

All companies want to find ways of turning their abstract values into concrete corporate actions. For one major bank, they knew that they wanted to place caring for customers at the heart of their organisational mission. As the ongoing pandemic posed problems for some of their most vulnerable customers, the power of storytelling was used to illustrate how they could go beyond, and build a business based on care.

Boldly going beyond

To do so, the bank acknowledged two aspects of their customers’ realities. First: that COVID-19 restrictions were making life particularly difficult for the elderly, who were less likely than their younger clientele to have access to online or mobile banking services. Second: that such customers were also more likely to suffer from a lack of access to immediate support networks – which might have devastating consequences.

Insistent that not a single client should sink without support, they quickly chose to launch an empathy-driven, highly-personal ‘Reaching Out’ service, which would see dedicated staff commit to contacting, connecting with, and caring for any customers found to be struggling – in any way. 

The calls commenced, and staff soon found that their offers of support were as timely as they were well-intentioned. A few calls in, one staff member spoke to a surprised, but deeply thankful eighty-year old client. In the last day, he said, voice troubled and weary, he’d been unable to get out to the only open local shop. There was no obvious source of assistance, living alone. When asked if he had enough in the house to see out the weekend, he admitted that he perhaps had enough to last the rest of the day.

Taking immediate initiative, the caller sprang into action. Within ten minutes, three different charities had been called, and the elderly gentleman’s situation explained. Within another ten minutes, Age UK had reached out to him, promising him personal food deliveries not just that day, but throughout the pandemic – and beyond. By the time the sun had set, the gentleman again had full cupboards, a full fridge – and no small amount of gratitude.

Putting customers first

The elderly gentleman called wasn’t the only at-risk customer assisted by the ‘Reaching Out’ programme, but he was one of the most in-need. Though the initiative required extra resource and a number of keen staff willing to add to their weekly workloads, all employees agreed: this was what fostering a culture based on care looked like to them. For a company seeking to share obvious examples of its social impact, the ‘Reaching Out’ initiative also offered an outstanding one: customers put first, cared for – and secured against the pandemic’s deepest disruptions.

To discover how storytelling can transform your business, download our e-book, Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change. 

Learning from lapses: using stories for change

Inspiring introspection

Companies survive and thrive when they cultivate a culture of excellence and positively improve human lives. If mistakes are made, livelihoods can be threatened, and customers short-changed. When one business directory – responsible for showcasing the services of thousands of small businesses, freelance workers, and self-employed individuals – lapsed in its commitment to accuracy, they realised that systemic change was necessary to make manifest their mission. How was this brought about? Through the unique power of storytelling to inspire introspection. 

An error emerges

When faced with redundancy, Chris Barnes – dedicated shipyard worker – sought to ensure that his redundancy payment became a catalyst for successful employment in his future. Assertive and ambitious, he immediately devoted his energies towards retraining as a plumber. 

After months of diligent study, Barnes was ready to seize the new opportunities now available to him, and decided that a sensible course of action – self-employed, but in a tight-knit community in which word-of-mouth marketing would give him a decided edge – would be to place an ad in a well-known, high-circulation business directory.

Abuzz with anticipation, he sent his details to the directory, paid the necessary fee, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

New to the profession as he was, he couldn’t help but feel surprised that weeks passed by without a single client approach. 

A couple of months later, a rather disgruntled old lady sent a strongly-worded letter to the business directory, testily telling them that a number of her fellow townspeople seemed to believe that she was a plumber. After some embarrassed placating of her complaints, and a hurried internal investigation, it emerged that a careless clerk had entered an incorrect phone number into the database from which the directory was created. This error had misdirected dozens of calls to the surprised lady, and cost Barnes thousands of pounds in work.

A new programme prioritises precision

Though this lapse wasn’t the first that the directory had experienced that year, that month, that week, or even that day, it was one of the most painful and costly. When the organization’s leaders began constructing their plans to transform the company’s processes and implement new programs, this story was crucial. Though highly embarrassing, it helped company leaders to clarify – through compelling narrative example – the sort of organization they didn’t want to be.

By foregrounding this story, they were able to impress upon all employees the key points of their new programme: attention to detail, quality control, and increased employee accountability – all with a recognition that better processes promoted better lives for their customers. 

They also sought to ensure that the plumber’s story with them ended a little better than it began. As part of a cross-company commitment to ensure that all mistakes were remedied, he was offered a free yearlong advertisement. During the next year, business flourished for both the grateful recipient and the business directory, with employees newly mindful of the importance of attention to detail – and of the unique power of stories to transform company culture.

To discover how storytelling can transform your business, download our e-book, Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change.

Working more smartly: inspiring innovation culture through stories

Cultivating cross-company collaboration

From time-to-time, any company can experience a slump. One international carrier, facing intensifying competition and increasing change fatigue across the organisation, was seeking to reinvigorate their flagging financial and cultural fortunes. To do so, they knew that engaging and empowering their entire workforce was imperative, while also encouraging them to ‘work more smartly’. How did they achieve this? By using the immense connective power of stories.

An introvert’s ingenuity

In any organisation, there are diamonds in the rough – ingenious individuals whose capacity to create meaningful change is unlimited. Some, however, are hidden deep in that rough, buried by bureaucracy or too shy to be seen. Yet the executive decision to use stories to bring people together helped our competition-challenged carrier to make the most of one introvert’s ingenuity.

Each week, the company allotted half an hour of working time designed for internal storytelling – a time when employees were asked to listen to, and learn from, each other. 

During one such workshop, it became clear that shy Keith Mallard possessed a passion for creating spreadsheets – a passion that had him fiddling with formulas and tinkering with tables into his evenings and weekends. Recognizing that his talent might help the company make major efficiency savings, Mr. Mallard was asked to apply his talents to help the company be smarter.

A culture change

The diamond now uncovered, Mr. Mallard’s spreadsheet didn’t just offer thousands of pounds of short-term efficiency savings (though it did that, too) – it also became an enduring part of our carrier’s culture, retaining long-term value as one of the company’s go-to spreadsheets. But the impact went beyond inspiring one increase in efficiency in one area of the company. In fact, storytelling offered employees across the organisation the chance to share best practice, inspire new ways of working, and create learning opportunities every single week: an innovation culture, driven by storytelling.

The results were remarkable. After two years of losses – nine-figure losses! – the carrier was able to report a £15 million profit shortly after implementation of their storytelling program. Yet the power of stories was as personally valuable as it was pragmatically so. Enhanced employee morale and engagement was visible in both an 11% year-on-year fall in staff turnover and a decline in absenteeism: an enduring testament to the power of stories to connect, create, transform, and inspire. 

To discover how storytelling can transform your business, download our e-book, Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change

Visions of the Future: #TakeYourSeat

November 8th, 2013: Take your seat. The world is dying.

The world is dying, and you’ve been given a front-row seat – a privileged spectator spot. Others take their seat in front of televisions and computer screens, where storms are rendered via satellite, and climate change is experienced via tweets rather than typhoons.

Take your seat: passivity, spectacle, experiential and ethical distance.

Not for you. For you, to take a seat is not to observe the tumult from afar but to live it: the uprooting of community, a city ripped asunder in moments, submerged and swept away in the space of an afternoon.

It is to live waves as weighty as windmills and wind wild as whirlpools. It is to live loss as immediate as the breath you barely kept. It is to be crushed by the blows of a planetary ecosystem crumbling under intolerable strain, to feel climate change as not a noun but the most violent and vehement of verbs.

When chairs are strewn across streets like seaweed on seashores – empty chairs and empty tables – how to take a seat?

How to take a seat when yours no longer exists?

December 3rd, 2018: Take your seat. The world is dying.

The world is dying, and the distance between those who experience and those who execute – between those who spectate and those who strategise – can no longer be perpetuated.

It’s not as though the climate clarion calls haven’t been intensifying for not just months but decades. It’s not as though the increasing incidence of extreme weather events – insatiably destructive wildfires, hurricanes that direct destruction towards families, cities and livelihoods, flash floods and snowstorms and drought, the tick-tock of minute but relentless temperature increase – haven’t offered sufficient justification for a watershed moment.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference – snugly situated in Poland’s Katowice, where it would be easy to forget that climate change will not be experienced as half-degree global temperature rises but as lived loss – hopes to be that watershed moment.

But how to turn the silent spectator’s tragedy into the catalyst for change? How to ensure that those that theorise are joined at the table by those that feel – when the latter group is comprised by millions, each as deserving of a voice as the next?

How to ensure that those millions are perceived not as a sigh-inducing statistic but as a chorus of individual voices, each with a human story that demands immediate progress?

You give each of them a chair at the table, using the possibilities that digital technologies offer for democratic engagement with society’s leaders.

You create a space where politician and Executive are held to account by citizen, and the voiceless become the vocal.

You create the catalyst by which we translate abstraction into action, safeguarding the future of our planet.

You ask each of them to #TakeYourSeat.

Climate change had been on the agenda of those that lead since well before Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the small city of Tacloban, The Philippines, on November 8th, 2013, killing 6,300 and shattering the lives of those that survived. One of those was Joanna Sustento, whose family was lost to the storm.

Sustento is the perfect example of those who are reduced to deindividualizing noun (‘people’, ‘those affected’, ‘millions’) in high-level talks about counteracting climate change, yet those who are most susceptible to its imminent effects.

Ever since that day, Sustento has spent her life agitating for action, attempting to hold those most responsible for our warming planet to account. However, the world no longer has the leeway, or the luxury, to wait for more Sustentos to live climate tragedy before they are heard.

This year, the UN took note, and created a symbolic space that those seeking to salvage our planet could occupy, irrespective of location or status: the People’s Seat. Using the virtual communal areas created by social media and digital technology, it invited all those wanting to join the conversation to #TakeYourSeat.

In doing so, it ensured that the act of taking a seat was reconfigured as active participation rather than passive observation, and that active participation was a possibility offered to the many, not the few.

Climate change has regularly been spoken of as our greatest, and existential challenge. Daunting though the prospect of tackling that challenge is, we believe that the ‘incalculably diffusive’ effects that can arise from mass participation are imperative if we are to succeed – if we are to prevent global temperature from rising 1.5% above pre-industrial levels.

We perceive the People’s Seat as an initial ripple that we hope might facilitate tidal waves – tsunamis – of climate action: waves restore breath to a choking planet, and make manifest a world in which all of us can take a seat at tables where the stakes, and the potential costs, are rather lower.


Visions of the Future: Driving Diversity, Inspiring Innovation

November 6th, 2018: A day for, and of, history, perhaps. A day of historic firsts for the United States government: a moment at which its Congress began to look, in however ostensibly imperceptible ways, a little more like the country it claims to represent.

A day when Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American women to be elected to Congress; a day in which Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar joined them as America’s first female Muslim representatives; a day in which Jared Polis became America’s first openly homosexual male governor in Colorado; a day when, at the age of 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becomes perhaps the most prominent millennial in American politics as the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives.

A day, then, when diversity of gender wasn’t enough for the American electorate, and they opted – in some corners of the country, if nothing else – to try and ensure that the country’s decision-makers weren’t just a little more diverse in their gender, but also in their age, religion, sexuality, and class.

Imagine these midterm moments not as fodder for pub quizzes and episodes of Pointless– the catalyst for momentary scratching of heads and groans – but as watershed moments – moments at which the American people, collectively, chose to start washing away the social detritus left by past inequities.

Imagine these midterm moments as not, in fact, moments – but part of movements. Moments when we remove the glass ceilings and build elevators in their place, requiring not so much violent smashes as vibrant steps to conquer.

Imagine that those glass ceilings weren’t just removed in the political sphere – that ‘diversity’ wasn’t just restricted to those few individuals fortunate enough to have the right electorate and the right face at the right time. Imagine if our businesses and parliaments took similar leads, and replaced barriers with opportunities; uniformity with diversity.

What happens?

November 6th, 2022: Less history, perhaps, on this day. Fewer firsts. Fewer headlines. But imagine that below the surface – behind the headlines and away from the spotlight – diversity had become a norm, not an exception.

Imagine, then, a world where companies weren’t forgoing crucial growth opportunities because they weren’t misunderstanding or missing new markets.

Imagine a world where the UK economy was boosted by £24 billion each year or more – an extra one percent or so of its current GDP.

Imagine a Parliament, or a House of Representatives, or a boardroom that was more diverse and inclusive – intellectually as well as interpersonally – where new ideas were more likely to take shape, be heard, and be implemented.

Imagine those new ideas forming the cornerstone of transformational innovation, then, with individuals from disparate backgrounds and experiences bringing new modes of thinking and new ways of interacting to your organisation.

Imagine missing fewer opportunities, making fewer strategic mistakes – giving your company the competitive edge, or giving our society the optimal conditions, it needs to succeed in a world driven by the capacity to innovate effectively.

What if it all starts by smashing a ceiling and building an elevator?

What if it all starts with a gay governor or a millennial Congresswoman?



Currently, the uppermost echelons of our society don’t look particularly diverse. For all the noise garnered by the success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fewer than one in four US House Representatives are female. Fewer than one in three members of the UK parliament are.

In the corporate world, where ossified (and ossifying) modes of operation and prejudices still prevail, the rooms where it happens look even more homogeneous: only 9.7 percent of Executives at FTSE 100 companies are female, and only 6 percent of top management positions are held by BAME individuals.

The price of this lack of diversity isn’t just ethical – there is good evidence that it is also economic. Research repeatedly suggests that companies that have greater gender diversity in the boardroom receive greater innovation revenue. Other research reports that companies with 2-D diversity out-innovate and out-perform others, are 45 percent more likely to report a growth in market share over the previous year, and 70 percent more likely to report that the firm captured a new market.

However, with a majority of companies – 78 percent – reporting that they do not possess diverse leadership, and the figures in the political sphere broadly similar, it could hardly be clearer that most organizations are still ill-placed to derive the economic and social benefits of diversity.

Innovation occurs in environments where new ideas can be raised, heard, and enacted with as little friction as possible – and research also suggests that diverse workplaces are more likely to create those conditions. For example, in environments where leadership is homogeneous,women are 20% less likely than straight white men to win endorsement for their ideas; people of colour are 24 percent less likely; and LGBTs are 21 percent less likely.

This isn’t just a loss for the individuals who see their capacity for innovation trammelled. It’s also a loss for companies, voters, and society – who all benefit from outstanding innovation.

Imagine turning this loss into an opportunity, and opportunity into outcome. Imagine replacing exclusivity with inclusivity, and stagnation with innovation.

We think that’s a vision of the future worth creating.


We are The Storytellers. We exist to move more people to do great things through the power and influence of storytelling.

Which story will move you and the people around you to do great things in 2018? Share your story with us.

Visions of the Future: Lost in Translation

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. […] And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Genesis, 11:1-7


October, 1942: Lost in translation – a common phrase, covering a range of situations in which we are subject to the burden of Babel: the moments where differences of language create, and render nearly-insuperable, gaps in human experience and understanding.

What, then, is lost in translation? Meaning, certainly. Understanding – of course. But what more might be lost when a common language cannot be accessed?

What about lives?

You are in Guadalcanal at the height of World War II: a hellscape where death at the hands of an enemy solider isn’t the only threat facing you. Around you, you see dozens of your military companions – perhaps even hundreds – develop headaches, fevers, nausea, outbreaks of sweating – and many are dying.

You know that your adversaries are facing the same challenges – the same misery and malady – and managed to attempt to engage in conversation with a local villager under the cover of darkness: an attempt to gather intelligence, to learn anything that might help save you and your companions.

Your companion wants to help – wants to explain the solutions that are making your American adversaries more successful in combating the disease facing them. But you lack a common language – and how to explain quinine or atabrine with only rudimentary English between you? How to outline the causes and cures of a complicated illness when arranging a meeting took all the linguistic capacity you possessed?

A wave of the hand. A shake of the head.

Lost in translation. Nothing to be done.


October, 2019: Found in translation? You are seeking to communicate, to a skeptical Senegalese French-speaker thousands of miles away from you, that the next delivery of mosquito nets from your charity cannot be used for fishing – that they are an essential defense in the fight against malaria.

Without nets, their rate of infection will soar. As the rate of infection soars, so will the rate of death. Clear, concise communication is imperative: all must be understood, accurately and speedily.

But what if nothing was lost in translation? What if the smartphone in your hand was all you needed to transverse linguistic and cultural gaps, to impress upon your recipients the gaps?

You speak into your smartphone in clear English, having activated voice-recognition technology that will identify each word as it is articulated, creating a near-perfect transcription of your insight and advice.

As you are speaking, an app is, in real-time, translating that transcription into fluent French, using thousands of hours of speech data to power the world’s most accurate translation algorithms.

Yet now, even more is possible. Driven by more AI-enabled algorithms, your smartphone will ensure that any gaps in meaning or tone are navigated by interspersing, among the French, a language that all can understand: emoji. Do not ❌ use your nets 🥅 for fishing! 🐟 They’re there to save you and your family 👪 from malaria 🤢– don’t waste them.

The response comes back in the form of two images: two images that express as much as succinctly as a dozen words – that require no shared English or French – The response comes back in the form of two images: two images that assure you that nothing has been lost in translation.


We understand. Thank you.



Breaking Babel’s Burden

In 1887, L.L. Zamenhof published the first guide to Esperanto – the constructed international auxiliary language that he hoped would “enable the learner to make direct use of his knowledge with people of any nationality.” Just over 120 years later, Esperanto has a mere 2 million native speakers: a fraction of the earth’s population.

In 1999, Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita created the first emoji – 176 12-by-12 pixel images designed to convey basic information in a more succinct, speedy manner. Under 20 years later, over 5 billion emojis are used on Facebook Messenger daily: a pictorial language that has transcended generations, class, and nationalities in a way that Zamenhof could scarcely have imagined for Esperanto.

In 2017, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation proposed an emoji mosquito as a way to better describe mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and Zika. Recognizing the universality of the mosquito as a symbol of disease and death, they offer a glimpse into the possible future of emoji: a way of creating shared meaning when there are moments that our words can’t reach.

For as long as humanity has existed, the burden of Babel has proved a barrier to human flourishing: communicative gaps decrease efficiency, foster misunderstanding, and prevent the creation of interpersonal relationships.

The digital age, however, offers numerous possibilities to break down Babel’s burden. Emoji are facilitating cross-cultural communication, leading them to be spoken of by Wiredas “a lingua franca for the digital age”. Voice recognition technology, combined with accessible, AI-powered translation software, could offer real-time linguistic bridges, with emoji supplementing translated speech in ways that offered crucial insight into tone and emotion.

Creating these linguistic bridges could inspire a new age of human communication: an age where differences of language are overcome in seconds, and where cool, impersonal translation software is augmented and humanized by a return to pictorial communication: the often-derided, but barrier-breaking emoji.

Less misunderstanding and miscommunication. Better business efficiency. The forging of new links between individuals across the world. Maybe even saved lives.

There’s a vision of the future for you.


We are The Storytellers. We exist to move more people to do great things through the power and influence of storytelling.

Which story will move you and the people around you to do great things in 2018? Share your story with us. 

Visions of the Future: Food of the Future

September 26th, 2018: What are you cooking today?

Well – here’s a recipe for you.


  • 9.1 billion people, the world’s projected population by 2050;
  • 25% of farmland worldwide: the proportion that’s now highly degraded, subject to soil erosion, water degradation, and biodiversity loss;
  • 8% of farmland worldwide: the proportion that’s now moderately degraded;
  • The year 2023: the year that the population in China, India, and Africa will constitute over half the world’s population;
  • 63kg of meat per year – as of 2016, the average meat consumption per capita per annum in China.

Heat by 2.6 degrees Celsius: the upper-bound estimate, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of how much the earth might warm by 2050: the year that Oxfam estimate that the world will no longer be able to produce enough food to feed itself.

This recipe doesn’t come with a picture, but, to conjure up a vision of the future presented by this slow-cooking combination, imagine 379 Big Macs.

Then try and imagine 379 billion Big Macs (more burgers, incidentally, than McDonalds has cooked up in its entire existence).

Then try to imagine – if you can – a world that’s short of 379 billion Big Macs. Each year.

That’s the vision of the future outlined by Ms. Sara Menker, founder and Chief Executive of Gro Intelligence. When will our collective meal be ready? Cooking time for this unique recipe: uncertain, but take out and try any time between 2023 and 2050.

There’s a recipe for you.

September 26th, 2020: What are you cooking today?

Here’s another recipe for you (innovative business partner required):

  • Take the world’s favourite foods – anything you like;
  • Pass favourite foods through 3D scanner, pressure sensor, and MRI scanner. Record texture, density, moisture content, visual data, and flavour in database;
  • Repeat for all favourite foods until your database contains all one could possibly want to feed the world;
  • Save database to a USB stick (yes: this vision of the future features fast food, too);
  • Insert USB into USB port on specialist 3D pixel food printer;
  • Select chosen meal;
  • Download chosen meal – and enjoy!

Imagine cooking from a computer. Imagine food that requires minimal – if any – farmland. Imagine a kitchen that requires not a gas-guzzling oven, but just your laptop and a 3D printer. Imagine a vision of the future where you can send your dinner via email, your breakfast from your smartphone – from folder to fork in minutes. Imagine a vision of the future where feeding the world doesn’t cost the world.

There’s a recipe for you.

If we want to combat climate change and ensure a sustainable future for the world, altering agricultural practice is imperative. Currently, 75% of our food can be sourced back to only 12 plants and 5 animal species, while global calorific demand continues to increase relentlessly with population increase.

Unsurprisingly, this will cease to be sustainable unless new nutritional sources are discovered or found. That doing so is increasingly imperative has been amply documented, with a range of reports – from Gro Intelligence to Oxfam – offering grave estimates of the risk posed by imminent food insecurity: 2023? 2030? 2050?

However, panic is premature. The power of human ingenuity is being devoted – with alacrity – to the task, with the Open Meals project one example of the attempt to combine new technology and ingenious innovation in ways that safeguard a prosperous future for humanity.

Futuristic and cutting-edge though this vision is, those behind Open Meals envisage a world where a meal can be downloaded and printed as easily as a PDF from a USB, combining big data, food analysis, and 3D printing technology to try and ensure that – no matter how much land we lose – the world stays fed, full – and, we hope – cool.

We are The Storytellers. We exist to move more people to do great things through the power and influence of storytelling.

Which story will move you and the people around you to do great things in 2018? Share your story with us. 

Visions of the Future: Artificial Intelligence

6thDecember, 2017: What can you do in twenty-four hours? Navigate your car, eyes fatigue-filled and mind preoccupied, through the London traffic; send a dozen important emails; make your way, anticipation augmenting, down to the room where it happens – the room where you and your team are about to test, again, the intellectual limits of Life 3.0.

What can you do in twenty-four hours? More – so much more – than was ever thought possible. You gaze at the figures and formulae and results on your screen, seeing a glimpse of a future that isn’t quite here but may have just jumped one large step closer to reality – a world in which ignorance becomes intelligence in moments, and accelerates all the way to superintelligence before your best analysts can process the results.

When humans are born – tabula rasa, or close to – we have the capacity to learn. Life 2.0. Imagine a newborn baby, in its first twenty-four hours. What can it do in 24 hours? Learn to breathe, recognise its mother, adjust its eyes to an unfamiliar world.

Imagine a newborn baby, armed with the capacity to learn to play three board games in 24 hours.

Imagine one that could beat a world champion, a grandmaster – in 24 hours.

Imagine that this capacity for learning isn’t limited to game-playing.

Imagine what that artificial hand could do if it touched your business, your economy – your world.

So what now? What comes next?

6th December, 2027: What can you do in 24 hours? With a cognitive system whose capacity for creative synthesis is matched only by its capacity for destruction – when the unparalleled pattern recognition that can recognise and execute Alekhine’s gun in a fraction of a second could also recognise and execute the innocent in the same shooting snippet of time.

What can you do in 24 hours? When the seas of AI rise relentless and roughshod over every human intellectual domain, when it takes you a day to do what your computer colleague can do in hours or minutes, and the profit and efficiency imperative makes you and your education and experience redundant?

But what else could you do in 24 hours, when competence is replaced by creativity as the central focus of human economic affairs? When the policy frameworks, conceived and perfected through months of careful, expert-driven deliberation, ensure that the unprecedented explosion in human prosperity is distributed in a way that enhances, rather than jeopardises, our capacity for self-determination? When human economic endeavour could double every fortnight? When we win the wisdom race, and ensure that AI is an asset, not a threat?

So what now? Humanity’s at 11:58. What will we do in twenty-four hours?

Life 3.0 is coming. Artificial Intelligence researchers may not quite know when, but the prospect of AI has moved, imperceptibly but inexorably, from science fiction to science theory. The implications for every aspect of human life – the way we work, the way we interact, the way we define human value – are profound. With each development – such as Google’s AlphaZero acquiring superhuman-level proficiency in chess, and shogi, and Go, in under 24 hours – that paradigm shift moves a little closer.

As Yuval Harari writes in ‘Homo Deus’, and as Max Tegmark articulates in this TEDTalk, nobody can slam the brakes, and nobody knows where all the pieces are. Nobody knows quite how much unemployment we risk, how much prosperity is possible, how much danger might arise – but we know that these questions can’t be avoided.

We, like Nick Bostrom, believe that, if we get the answers to these questions right, the potential exists for outcomes that positively transform our lives beyond all recognition. But there is the potential for risk – risk that we can’t control if we don’t predict, assess, strategize, so that, when the detonation occurs, it is controlled.

The process has begun, with 23 principlesa kind of AI Accord – agreed and signed off by over 1,000 experts and industry leaders. This collaboration can serve as the blueprint, and the catalyst, for a vision of the future unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

We are The Storytellers. We exist to move more people to do great things through the power and influence of storytelling.

Which story will move you and the people around you to do great things in 2018? Share your story with us.