2020 Vision & The 21st Century: Looking Back To 2000 And On To 2040, A Gresham College Scenario Event Two Decades On

Webinar Recording

There is a written event summary by Professors Tim Connell and Michael Mainelli.

A Danish saying runs, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”. Yet people continue to make such predictions, three year plans, five year plans, even twenty year plans. In keeping with tradition, in 2000 Gresham College hosted a series of events on London in the 21st century looking ahead to 2020, helpfully collated together in a 90 page booklet by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. This symposium intends to review those predictions, examine mankind’s second-oldest profession of “fortune sellers”, and explore whether what we’ve learned over two decades might give us clearer vision into 2040. Along the way we would like to elicit best modern practices in dealing with the future ranging from modelling to scenario planning to complexity analysis. Or is this Yiddish proverb really the most enduring advice, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”?

Reprise from the original speakers

  • Roger Camrass
  • Richard O’Brien
  • Gill Ringland
  • Oliver Sparrow
  • Richard Susskind
  • Chris Yapp

Consisting of:

  • The most surprising thing over the past 20 years;
  • The lesson I’d most apply for the next 20 years;
  • My most confident statement about 2040

Commentary by Professor Tim Connell, closing thoughts by John Carrington, chaired by Professor Michael Mainelli.

A link to the scan of the original report - "London In 2020" via Gresham College in 2000.


Roger Camrass is a visiting professor at the University of Surrey and co-founder and director of CIONET UK – belonging to a global community of 9,000 digital leaders across 22 countries (see www.cionet.com). He was a pioneer of today’s Internet whilst attending MIT in the seventies as an ARPA Research Fellow. Subsequently he has spent over forty years helping large organisations take advantage of progressive waves of technology, from speech recognition and cloud, to 5G and AI. In the nineties he led a global research programme, ‘Business in the Third Millennium’ along with Gill Ringland and Chris Yapp. Beyond this programme he was responsible for e-commerce at EY during the dotcom boom, and helped digital leaders such as Amazon scale-up. Today he runs an Innovation programme in the UK involving some thirty leading organisations such as BP, GSK, Unilever, MoD and FCA. Roger graduated from Cambridge University and received a Masters degree from MIT. He is author of the Book ‘Atomic: reforming the business landscape into the new structures of tomorrow’. For further details visit www.rogercamrass.com

Richard O’Brien is an economist and futurist turned singer/songwriter and historian. During his time “in the future” he was a member of Global Business Network and a founding partner of Outsights Ltd, the scenario planning company, working with more than 100 public, private and charitable organisations. Notable projects included the scenarios for the Future of Obesity (UK), for The Future of the International Environment (2010-2020) and the creation of the UK Government’s first online database of future trends, The SigmaScan. Whilst Chief Economist of American Express Bank, Richard wrote one of the “iconic” books on globalisation, “The End of Geography”, for the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House, edited more than a dozen other volumes on international finance, and was Editor of the monthly publication The AMEX Bank Review. He also enjoyed serving on numerous councils and advisory boards. He continues as a member of the Advisory Board of The Annual Register, the world’s longest running review of world events, now in its 261st year. In recent years he has released six albums of his songs, on life, love and contemporary issues, www.richardrhysobrien.com , whilst his historical work currently focuses on the lives of Lady Rhondda, www.thedinnerpuzzle.com , and of Dame Margaret Lloyd George.

Gill Ringland is now a Director of Ethical Reading, set up to energise an ethical business climate in the Thames Valley. She was head of strategy at ICL (now part of Fujitsu) and is an Emeritus Fellow of SAMI Consulting. She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, and of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been co-opted onto EC and British government advisory bodies covering IT, Economic and Social Research, and Foresight. She has worked in Europe, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan and the USA. She is the author or co-author of eight books and numerous articles. The most recent book is Megatrends and How to Survive Them: preparing for 2032; the next book explores post-pandemic futures. She was the author and editor of the In Safe Hands report with Z/Yen in 2012 and the London 2020 report by Gresham College and the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists in 2000.

Oliver Sparrow is the Director of the Challenge Network. He is the author of many publications, including seven books. He has written or edited much of this Forum. He is known for his ground breaking presentations, which are given to audiences totaling well over ten thousand people in the course of a year. He has substantial broadcast experience. Oliver is a director, board advisor or non-executive director of a number of companies. He is also director of a charity called the Leadership Capacity Trust. He has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Strategic Planning Society. He is a fellow of the Peter Drucker foundation. He has served as a member of number of UK government projects. He was a commissioner on the World Commission on Globalization. Oliver spent the bulk of his career in Shell, chiefly in strategic planning, corporate renewal, public affairs and venture capital. After Shell, he spent five years as a Director at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, also known as Chatham House. Country assessments - their stability, their weaknesses and potential, negotiation around conflict - were and remain a central skill.

Professor Richard Susskind OBE was Gresham Professor of Law (2001-2004) and Honorary Professor of Gresham College (2005). His main field of theoretical and practical interest is the impact of technology (especially the internet and AI) on professional services. He is the world’s most cited author on the future of legal services. Richard is President of the Society for Computers and Law, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Oxford Internet Institute, and Technology Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. His work has been translated into 15 languages and he has been invited to speak in over 60 countries. He has written ten books, including The Future of the Law (1996), The End of Lawyers? (2008), The Future of the Professions (2015, with D Susskind), Tomorrow’s Lawyers (2013, 2017), and Online Courts and the Future of Justice (2019). In 1995, under the auspices of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, he was co-editor of ‘Focus on IT in the City’, a collection of papers on the future impact of technology on the City. Richard is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Computer Society. In the 1980s, he wrote his doctorate on artificial intelligence and the law at Balliol College, Oxford. He holds professorships at Oxford University, UCL, Gresham College, and Strathclyde University. He is an Honorary Bencher at Gray’s Inn, he was awarded an OBE in 2000.

Chris Yapp is an independent Consultant after 30 years in the Computing Industry working in public, private and third sectors. He has had a long interest in both the theory and practice of Innovation and Futures Thinking. He is a Clan Member of the International Futures Forum. For 10 years he ran the British Computer Society Blog on the Impact of Technology Developments. He has written, edited and contributed to a number of books on these topics. His speaking engagements have included the British Council, EU, UN, World Bank, Royal Society and the Club of Rome. He is a Fellow of the BCS and the RSA.

Professor Tim Connell is Professor Emeritus at City, University of London, having been head of languages there for nearly twenty years. He is deputy chair of the international course board of ESCP Europe, the French grande école which has centres in Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid, Turin and Warsaw. He is also a visiting professor at Richmond International University. He is a graduate of Oxford, Liverpool, City and London universities. His particular languages are Spanish, French and Portuguese and he has extensive experience of both Spain and Latin America. He attends meetings of the All Parties Parliamentary Languages Group. As a Fellow of Gresham College he sits on the Academic Board. He is also Chair of the Gresham Society, which aims to support the work of the College. He maintains close links in the Square Mile as a Liveryman of the Stationers’ and Newspaper Makers’ Company.. He also writes and speaks on topics relating to the history of the City of London. Most recently he has produced a report on past lessons for future finance in the Long Finance Series, and has written the official history of Canning House, the Luso-Hispanic Brazilian Council.

John Carrington attended the LSE, Edinburgh University and the LBS. He played a key role in the development of cellular communications in the UK and Europe. John was the founding CEO of Cellnet – now O2. He was an initial signatory of the 1987 agreement that established the GSM digital international cellular standard. John, now retired from industry, was Chair of the Council of Gresham College 2014 – 2019. John was a founder member of the Information Technologists Company, where he was Master 2001/2002.

Professor Michael Mainelli FCCA FCSI (Hon) FBCS, Executive Chairman, Z/Yen Group, is a qualified accountant, securities professional, computer specialist, and management consultant, educated at Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin. Michael gained his PhD at the London School of Economics where he was also a Visiting Professor of Innovation & IT. His career spans aerospace & cartography science, accountancy-firm partner, and director of Ministry of Defence research. Michael founded and chairs Z/Yen, the City of London’s leading commercial think-tank, famous for instrumental factor indices, including the Global Financial Centres Index, Global Green Finance Index, and Smart Centres Index. Michael has helped found numerous technology and financial firms and over the years his clients have included virtually all major investment banks, as well as many exchanges, insurers, fund managers, regulators, and financial information providers. Michael is Emeritus Professor, Fellow, & Trustee at Gresham College where he created the London Finance initiative asking “when would we know our financial system is working?” He is non-executive director of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, Fellow of Goodenough College, Trustee of Morden College, and Alderman for Broad Street. Michael is past Master of the World Traders and a liveryman of the Furniture Makers, Water Conservators, and Marketors, as well as a Craft-Owning Freeman of the Watermen & Lightermen. His third book, The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions, won the Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize. His interests include skiing, woodcarving, glassblowing, bagpipes, racing sailboats and sailing Thames barges. Michael has the honour of being Sheriff of the City of London 2019-2020. Relevant to this event, Michael is a former Vice-Chairman of the Strategic Planning Society.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

12:00 - 13:00 BST



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  • CIONEXT2018_ps.jpg
    Roger Camrass
  • richard-obrien.jpg
    Richard O’Brien
  • Gill Ringland 2020.JPG
    Gill Ringland
    Ethical Reading
  • Oliver Sparrow
    Oliver Sparrow
    Challenge Network
  • Professor Richard Susskind
    Professor Richard Susskind
    Society for Computers and Law
    Chris Yapp
    Independent Consultant
  • John Carrington.jpg
    John Carrington
    Past Master
    Worshipful Company Of Information Technologists
  • timconnell.png
    Professor Tim Connell
    Gresham College
  • Professor Michael Mainelli
  • Michael Mainelli
    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Executive Chairman
    Z/Yen Group

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