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James  Canton

James Canton

Chief Futurist, CEO & Chairman, Institute for Global Futures

James Canton

Chief Futurist, CEO & Chairman, Institute for Global Futures


Dr. Canton is a global futurist, social scientist, and advisor to business and governments. He is Chairman and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures, a leading San Francisco-based thinktank and global advisory firm he founded in 1990. He has worked with three White House Administrations in advancing investments in future science and technologies.

His firm has advised over 100 governments and organizations around the world on global trends, operations, global risks, and tech innovations. He directs the Global Risk Analytics and Innovation Strategy practice, which focuses on advanced science and technology innovations that impact markets, society, and global security.

He advises the Fortune 100 corporations and governments worldwide on trends and global strategy in innovation, healthcare, work, climate, energy, security, and demographics. The company analyzes advanced and emerging sciences and their impact on security, markets and society. Specific technologies include nanoscience, neuroscience, bioscience, geo-intelligence, convergent technologies, data science, information, and network science.

Dr. Canton has conducted forecasting projects, collaborations, and advisory work for leading global companies including HP, Google, Cisco, IBM, Apple, UPS, GE, Siemens, General Mills, Philips and McKinsey.

Dr. Canton has conducted advisory work, forecasting briefings and projects for a wide range of defense, intelligence, and state department clients including USSOCOM, CYBERCOM, SPACECOM, ODNI, Proteus, US Army War College, U.S. Air Force, Pentagon Futures Group, Lawrence Livermore Labs, Sandia Labs, U.S. State Department, U.S. Navy War College SSG, and USSOCOM University.

Areas he has specialized in working with his government clients include the future of artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, cyber war, autonomous systems, dark networks, bio-nano-IT convergence, global threat rogue scenarios, threat finance, emerging science and technology uses for innovations in security, energy, communications, commerce, and digital finance.

Dr. Canton was the first private sector advisor for the U.S. Government on nanoscience and nanoengineering when he was appointed to the National Science and Technology Council, NSTC in 1999. These efforts led to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. He has been involved in additional security and technology projects across U.S. administrations for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the White House Office of Science and Technology, (OSTP).

Prior to this he had worked in high-tech startups (AI, computing, Internet), investment banking, and policy development for the U.S. government between 1978-1980. He was an executive at Apple Computer from 1981-1984 where he worked on the development and introduction of the Macintosh computer, conducted strategic forecasting and business development, and forecasted the emergence of artificial intelligence working with government and private sector companies.

From 1985-1990 he was engaged in high-tech and investment startups in the Bay Area. He co-founded and was CEO at UmeCorp one of the first artificial intelligence companies working in industrial controls and virtual reality platforms for NASA and Ford, and both Asian and European clients. He went on to be serial entrepreneur working with Internet, mobile and AI companies engaged in Silicon Valley.

He was a partner at Swiss Occidental, an investment-banking group, where he worked on global investments, cross-border transactions and trade finance for multinational clients.

Dr. Canton has been an advisor to the National Science Foundation, the Research Visionary Board, Motorola Research, MIT's Media Lab, EU, the International Advisory Council, Economic Development Board, State of Singapore. He was a fellow at the Neurotechnology Center at Potomac Institute, and a founding advisory board member and co-chairman, Futures Forecasting Track, Singularity University at NASA. He was senior fellow, Center for Research in Technology & Innovation at Kellogg School of Management.

He is the author of the books Future Smart (2015); The Extreme Future (2007) and Technofutures (1998). He is a frequent guest of the media contributes to Fox, CNBC, PBS, CNN, Forbes, Fortune, and The New York Times.

Speaker Videos

Machines That Think: The Good, Bad and Scary of A.I.

Are You Future Ready?

Global Workforce

Speech Topics

Megatrends & The New Future

Complex megatrends are reshaping business, organizations, markets and the global economy. We are entering a new future—new rules, new tech, new markets, new energy. Form climate change to autonomous cars to next generation space and emerging robots, both challenges and opportunities are emerging fast. Find out what's next in the New Future and how you and your organization need to prepare today.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Predictive machines. Synthetic brains. Autonomous cars. Autonomous organizations. Will we learn to control AI before it controls us? This is the theme of the popular AI TEDTalk this keynote is based on. AI is fast changing our world of transportation, commerce, work, medicine, business and even war. What is your strategy for preparing for the epic changes coming from AI? Find out from a leading futurist and advisor to big tech companies what the future holds for AI and your work, life, and organization.

The Future of Geopolitics

Recent world-changing events, from COVID and China to the Ukraine conflict are creating uncertainty in markets, economics, business, and society. Noted global futurist and bestselling author James Canton forecasts the economic, social, and power challenges facing our world. Find out what's behind the headlines and what's coming. Discover how to better prepare for the new future.

The Extreme Future

Complex changes and challenges are redefining our world: COVID, Ukraine, energy and climate, artificial intelligence and robotics, population and food—all are shaping an Extreme Future. The world is in transition. Prediction of the key trends shaping our world is more important today than at any other time in history. How will the US deal with the next challenges facing our civilization? This presentation forecasts the top trends that will shape the near and far future of the economy, technology, the marketplace and geopolitics. Specific forecasts and models will present ways to demystify innovations, identify adversaries, and understand risks and opportunities. Discover how the convergence of key megatrends are creating opportunity and risk and how to effectively prepare today for the future.

The Extreme Future of Healthcare

Dramatic innovations in medicine are reshaping our world. Find out what the leading and future innovations such as Crispr, big data, health apps and bots, health robots, synthetic biology, to predictive medical models to augmentation and human health enhancement that are reshaping healthcare.