Strategic Foresight Practitioner, Author,
Advisor and International Lecturer

Why smart phones will go away and what comes next.
Interview with Sinead Bovell
(WAYE TALKS - November 2022)

Prompt for ChatGPT4: Introduce Alexander Manu to a five-year-old.

Imagine Alexander Manu as a kind of super explorer, but instead of exploring jungles or oceans, he explores the world of ideas and what the future might look like. He believes that the future is like a big, exciting adventure that we all get to make up together. Just like when you play and use your imagination to create stories or build things with your toys, Mr. Manu thinks grown-ups can use their imagination to build a better world. He teaches big companies and smart people at universities how to think like explorers too. He helps them understand how to use cool gadgets and technology to make life better and more fun for everyone. And, he writes books about these adventures, so even more people can learn how to be great explorers of the future!


Alexander Manu is a visionary who has consistently challenged the boundaries of innovation, strategy, and foresight, an individual whose insights have not only shaped industries but have also inspired countless professionals to reimagine the future and their role in it. He is a celebrated author, a distinguished professor, and a sought-after consultant who has advised Fortune 500 companies, governments, and academic institutions. His work has been a catalyst for change, challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries in ways that redefine what is possible.

With a career spanning decades, he has been a beacon of inspiration, guiding businesses and individuals alike to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of technology, design, and human potential. His teachings and writings have been instrumental in helping organizations transition from the industrial to the knowledge value economy, emphasizing the importance of imagination, creativity, and personal transformation. He believes that the future is not something that happens to us but something we create. His insights into the intersection of technology, business, and human behavior have made him a leading voice in shaping the future of our interconnected world.

    Disruption is a catalyst for transformative change and new knowledge and thought. As current knowledge systems have not necessarily been set up to reflect disruptions, this book is about the creation of knowledge as the starting point of a philosophical framework for human behaviour in times of transformation. Philosophy is the logical clarification of thought, and when applied to disruption, it interprets the possible impacts of a disruptor. The philosophy of disruption inhabits the transition space between the disruption of the existing order and its transformation, re-establishing the balance between what we know and what we need to know. Change is a sequence of a disruptor leading to a disruption, which leads to a transition, leading to transformation. We cannot ignore the role of philosophy and the humanities in this sequence. No discipline combines philosophy's critical thinking, analytical skills, and cognitive skills with the broader humanities' people skills, symbolic reasoning, and social justice perspectives. When disruptors change the context of entire industries, systems, and markets, we need to activate our capacities to reason. The role of philosophy is to understand human behaviour in terms of reason, logic, rational thought, and the exploration of human actions.

    Disruption does not mean knowledge is being taken away; it means that knowledge is being changed, and there is a tendency for the self-concept to shift out of agreement with technology disruptors. Self-concepts are the behaviours and attitudes that make one think and act in specific ways. They are the values that individuals adopt and are embedded in cultural codes. The self-concept includes beliefs and attitudes about others, the purpose of personal goals, how one needs to get to them, and how one contributes to societal goals. Unlearning is the ability of the self to un-connect from the self-concept and give critical attention to areas in which self-concepts are unhelpful—unlearning means discarding things that were once a part of one's identity. Unlearning is a process that starts with a moment of introspection. To unlearn means that we choose to stop taking for granted our truths. To unlearn is to grow curious about our world, to ask questions. When we embrace unlearning, we accept the possibilities of a new world, a world that offers different challenges, challenges that are consonant with our values and traditions, and a world that could be much better.

    Ultimately, disruption is a multidimensional phenomenon because its forces are moving at various speeds in multiple directions, making disruption not just a matter of one moment coming and one moment disappearing. Disruption creates a shock and causes us to respond to it by creating new behaviours and a new set of beliefs and ways of doing things. Disruption cycles ask us to think for ourselves. We are forced to change our behaviours. We are forced to change our minds. When we transform our beliefs and our behaviours, we transform our world. When we change the rules of our world, we are changing the rules of our future.

    A continuous stream of change disrupts our world, from news to technology to information about everything. These are the transformational changes we are faced with today. The purpose of this book is to describe and explain how disruptions occur and take hold and help the reader recognize patterns of transformational moments and the mindset that can turn them into opportunities.

I am pleased to announce that my new book, Transcending Imagination is scheduled for release in hard cover in April 2024, by Chapman and Hall/CRC Press, Taylor & Francis.

Imagine a world where the boundaries of creativity are not only stretched but redefined. Transcending Imagination: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Creativity serves as your guide to this new frontier, engaging general readers, tech enthusiasts, and creatives alike in the captivating interplay between human ingenuity and artificial intelligence.

Journey through the ground-breaking advancements in AI as they intersect with art, design, entertainment, and education. Discover how AI's power to analyze and understand language can be harnessed to generate breathtaking visuals from mere text descriptions—a process known as text-conditional image generation. But this book goes beyond just showcasing AI's capabilities; it delves into its transformative effects on the creative process itself. How will artists and designers adapt to a world where they co-create with machines? What are the implications of AI-generated art in educational settings? This book tackles these questions head-on, offering a comprehensive view of the changing landscape of creativity.

More than just a look into the future, Transcending Imagination is a roadmap for artists, designers, and educators eager to navigate the uncharted territory of AI-augmented creativity, and a must-read for anyone interested in how AI might redefine the realms of art, design, and education.

    Human life expressed as civilization is the reflection of the Tools available and the sum of the Shells, Networks and Settlements these tools have allowed us to build. We are both constrained and expanded by our Tools. Tools define Networks and Settlements.

    Tools, Shells, Networks and Settlements exist because humanity needs to exist – they are not merely extensions of ourselves, they are ourselves, they are the way we exist, the means by which we exist, and by which we protect ourselves, propagate our knowledge and organize our groups, in order to leave a mark for others like us.


    Future-proofing is not about predicting the future, it is about creating it. It is about realizing the immensity of being human, and setting new goals from this new understanding, goals leading to a new destination. New goals open new timelines, and new timelines change the outcomes of the journey.

    The convergence of technologies which are social in nature and augmented and autonomous in performance, has now reached its maximization in most markets. This is the real birth of convenience technologies, which deliver benefits while being invisible and addressable simply by voice. In time, people will forget how they used to shop by driving their car to a suburban mall, just like they forgot how they used to walk three kilometers to get water from the water well in their village.

Unlearning is our invitation to new possibilities. Unlearning is about personal freedom, about making changes to the fundamental foundation of your life. It is only through unlearning that we can begin to learn that the horizon of possibilities extends to far greater than the horizon of our everyday experience. Unlearning is our invitation to new possibilities.

We are not about working on things with things. We are about creating moments of compelling power that move us forward, toward more compelling moments. We are carving time, for our own time on earth. The future proposed in my work has always been in us humans, as we have journeyed throughout time to achieve the technologies that will make it real.

Human life revolves around the tangibles that we have created as well as the one we have inherited. The tangibles of our manifest presence form the culture of our civilizations; they are both a burden and a purpose, as humans are destined to create and to maintain civilizations in order to survive. In the course of our history we have created Tools, Shells and Networks, each of them as a reflection of the technological accomplishments of the times in which they were produced, as well as of the dreams of the people that created them. All summed up in the Settlements that contain our organized and purposeful social groups.

Human life expressed as civilization is the reflection of the Tools available and the sum of the Shells, Networks and Settlements these tools have allowed us to build. We are both constrained and expanded by our Tools. Tools defineNetworks and Settlements. In the past, these Networks were in close proximity, as were Settlements, due to practical reasons like natural resource availability – water – effort conservation, and so on. With the advent of the digital Network, digital data as a material and the tools it creates allows for the creation of Settlements unbound by physical proximity, bound only by social identity, scope and preferences.
The difference between science and politics and the disciplines of sociology, economics, and environmental sciences is that their aim is not to change but to explain.

Art is the best invention of the human mind. In the history of ideas, its most significant achievements have been in revealing and celebrating the mysterious and sublime qualities of art in the hope that they will inform the practice of living. The more we inhabit the world around us, the more we shall have to create art to illuminate and ennoble the human condition.
Concepts are immutable abstractions. The definition of something gives it value, and the ideas surrounding a concept affect us and how we experience reality. This is the basis of understanding conceptual frameworks. Concepts do not exist independently of a perceived worldview. A conceptual framework is a system by which we define our thoughts, actions, and emotions. The framework is an abstraction that provides a context within which we operate and make decisions.
    We squeeze the new in the shape and meaning of the old, because we often understand value only as a measure of the conformity with the old perspective of the preexisting framework.

    But the new does not want to be measured this way, because it presents a completely new system of values, which challenges and will eventually extinguish the old system. A foundational challenge takes place when the essential means by which a human activity is performed is fundamentally and permanently transformed. Such a foundational challenge was the introduction of digital technology and data management in every business, and in every domain of human life. A foundational challenge for organizations is expressed by this question: will the old value system ultimately be ended, and if so, by what?

    To future-proof an activity or organization, we must look at where people will go and congregate on mass, and follow them with our technology, product or service. And today people congregate and engage dynamically on digital platforms, which have become foundational to our way of being and the way we conduct life at the present time.

    A behavior platform is a place where contentment is discovered in the present, and it is also sought in the present, in a compressed time frame and in a manner that is felt by the individual. The success or failure of a behavior platform, and for that matter of any service concept connected to a user engagement journey, is directly related to the average satisfaction people get in connection to the speed with which they get contentment, and the speed with which their desires are being met.

    Dynamic expectations signify the expectation of an individual in regard to the ordinary performance of a digital platform, based on lived experience on other digital platforms.

    We now expect platforms to be social – include social groupings and contexts, social objects, and a plurality of participants - we expect them to be augmented – allowing access to any number of tools that expand the time spent on the platform with beneficial engagement via stimuli which are intrinsically motivating - and we expect them to be autonomous – capable of accomplishing tasks independent of user involvement.

Humans will become connoisseurs, lovers, partners, artists, creators, innovators, painters, friends, travelers, musicians, poets, dreamers, and companions. The most significant task of every day will be deciding what to do. Making decisions will be roughly everything that is left to do. What will set us apart from our objects will be the limits of self-awareness, which are emotions and feelings, empathy, irony, values, and doubt.

My work describes the mechanisms by which new value is captured and created in enterprises dedicated to play a role in the behavior economy.
It all starts with learning a new language – the language of ideas – and with establishing frameworks of possibility in the ideology of the enterprise. Value creation is the expansion of relationships enabled by a disruptor media and the creation of new behaviors as a result. This opens two needed capabilities for a business: The first is upstream, creating the platform services people want to engage with. The second is downstream: marketing, distributing and selling these platforms as services. By the nature of the activities involved, the upstream and downstream capabilities are quite different in scope, inputs and outputs. The downstream calls for methodology – what do we have to do and how? - while the upstream calls for ideology - why and for whom are we doing this? In the context of enterprise, ideology is a way of being, behaving and influencing the world. An attitude. A mindset.
When objects embody the characteristics of self-awareness, all frictions between humans and objects will melt away, and the individual will no longer guide technology, but technology will guide the individual. One of the answers to this question is a life in which technology drives choice.

Our culture will be increasingly centered around the pursuit of possibility. It is not about a specific outcome, or about how this or that is achieved, or even about the means to achieve it, but it is all about possibility itself, and the idea that this or that is in the making right here, right now, and we are here to help make it so. This is the promise of evolution, which cannot be appreciated by merely acting as a spectator and must instead be experienced, through consciousness, as something in itself.
    Over the next decades we have to be ready to accept that the core assumptions underlying our individual realities will change dramatically. We have a choice to embrace this change and become creators of the future. And for that, we need to develop the ability to adapt and transform ourselves at will.

    The richly augmented future is a destination, and a promise of what life can be, at the convergence of the Internet of Things with the fourth industrial revolution, enabling us to redefine our personal models of consumption, meaning, purpose, work and learning.

    When our jobs and chores will disappear by virtue of technology, we will have an abundance of work in creating multiple traces of our existence and trying to understand which one might last longer than the other. Our work will be that of creating moments of compelling power, moments moving us forward in our life, towards more compelling moments. Our work would be that of participating in other people's lives, as a reflection and affirmation of both them and us.

We are at the moment history turns a corner
Behind us we see the age of mass manufacture and industrial might, represented by large multinational corporations, giants that could bend steel and transform it into airplanes, ships, trains and bridges. Those were impressive days; the days in which we built the infrastructure of the world, as we thought these variables would be a constant of civilizations to come. We covered the ground with asphalt, redefined communities around the automobile, and redefined the way we connected people to people, and people to goods and services.
These were physical manifestations of a moment in history, but we regarded them as history itself, having a hard time imagining how things could be different. All we have defined so far as the indispensable infrastructure for our way of life might simply not exist in the industrialized world 50 years from now. Because just around the corner we are seeing the first signs of a life in which everything is social, everything is augmented and everything is autonomous. A convergence called life subscribed. In this new context, life becomes a subscription to moments, curated invisibly by virtue of our past actions, and our sets of preferences.

    We need to reimagine all human transactions as a steady stream moving to and from every individual. For any action that generates a benefit to the whole, individuals will be credited in a value stream for the duration of the engagement, and as fair compensation for the value provided. This is a dynamic and synchronic value transfer system, one in which data is used to its most definable and mission critical attribute which its ability to be transmitted on a network.

    Data streaming is the acknowledgement that in the course of time, the accumulation of transformative technologies becomes a driver for a massive overhaul of civilization itself. Fire has done that, electricity has done that, and now the use of data as material for interaction is doing the same thing.

    Empowered intrinsic motivation, coupled with the provision of social media and other behavior platforms allowing for participation, have transformed the economic system over the past 15 years into a behavior economy. This transformation has changed the relationship between companies and their customers, and the expectation for engagement between brands and users.

    Empowered users have discovered themselves as social beings, with agency to shape the world by all available means, affecting the experience of life itself. Empowered participation is motivating people to set new goals for engaging with life, to discover and create new experiences, to seek meaning and pleasure in actions conditioned only by the self-desire to per-form and be seen in the social realm.

    Ideas represent concepts, communicating emotion through the plasticity of the material the artist chooses to express in. The key in this relationship is the nature of the material, and the extent of the material plasticity, how far the artist could push its limits, and how much empowerment others have to transform it.

    In traditional materials like stone, paint, marble or steel, the others had only the empowerment to watch, to be the spectators of the experience. With data as material, the other – you and me - has the empowerment to remix, to contribute, to re-shape and transform. The power to participate. The mobility, immediacy, and convenience of using data to communicate ideas, emotions or facts, has transformed the experience of art into everyday life, and with it, people's expectations and behaviors.

The future as ethos has little to do with technology; it has only to do with what we want of ourselves
Starting from scratch means wiping the slate clean of any past structures and imagining how the ingredients we have at our disposal, can frame a new type of society, in which people's desires, wants and needs are being satisfied in new ways. In building such an organization or service from scratch we can retain some of the values of the present, but not the physical infrastructure. Starting from scratch is a challenge to one's ability to create new images of self, constructing a new world from the inside out, as both a participant as well as a creature of it. These new images, and the artifacts they create in turn, are reflections of new life priorities, and the heights of existence we want to achieve through the new story. A new, and inspiring ethos.
New Book

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Creativity

  • "Transcending Imagination" invites insightful readers into a deep-dive exploration of creativity, artificial intelligence (AI), design, and art, focusing on the shifting relationship between human imagination and AI. The book probes the demarcation between the organic and the fabricated and the distinction between the natural and artificial, compelling us to reassess our ideas and understandings about art, consciousness, and the nature of creativity. The text engages with the intriguing issue of AI-created art in its opening passages. It elucidates how AI, a product of human innovation, independently crafts art pieces, prompting us to rethink these traditional classifications. This autonomous creation by AI, blurring the lines between natural and artificial, leads us to reconsider the implications this has for our perceptions of consciousness and self-awareness.

    Chapter one, "Beyond Imagination," explores the symbiotic relationship intertwining human creativity and AI. It advances the thesis that AI should be perceived as an instrument and an accomplice in the creative odyssey. Far from being a crutch that obfuscates the essence of human creativity, AI is a catalyst that accentuates, extrapolates, and metamorphoses the multiple facets of creativity. Moreover, the chapter offers an intriguing perspective on the sanctity this synergistic interaction could give to the creative process, hinting at a transcendent, evocative, and indescribable dimension. It posits AI as an ally in the creative process, which enhances human creativity and adds new dimensions and a sense of sacredness to it.

    "Art and the Sense of Sacredness" probes deeper into the symbiotic interplay between AI and human creativity, spotlighting the alchemy of their co-creation as it permeates art with an aura of sanctity. Through an exploration of esoteric and epistemological paradigms, the chapter illuminates how this partnership can evoke magic qualities within art, conjuring an elevated perception of sacredness. Subsequently, "Form Shapes Perceptions" embarks on a cogitative analysis of the role of form in the alteration of perception and the augmentation of imagination within both tangible and digital domains. It inspects the multifaceted nuances of form - structure, contours, and constituent elements - and investigates how these properties act as conduits in tailoring and enriching perceptual experiences. The chapter contemplates the intriguing intersection where form acts as an agent of change in the cognitive interplay between the real and the simulated.

    "Incidental Beauty" engages with emergent aesthetics delivered by generative AI, drawing an alluring parallel to the serendipitous splendor found in nature. The chapter considers the implications of AI as an independent generator of beauty, a spontaneous artist similar to the ceaseless creativity exhibited in the natural world. Moving forward, "Bias and Creative Intention" and "From Creators to Narrators" explore the evolutionary trajectory of humans from being creators to becoming narrators in the new creative landscape forged by AI. Central to this examination is the exploration of AI's potential to democratize and expand creative expression by diluting individual biases that might inadvertently influence creative output. The book critically evaluates the duality of this shift, navigating the intriguing interstice where the human role transforms from the active creator to the storyteller, guided and enriched by the all-encompassing intuition of AI. In "Sentience and Agency," Tib Roibu explores the blurring of lines between creator and created, and observer and observed, as a result of this evolving conversation. This dialogue sees AI and humans learn from each other, adapt, and evolve, with AI serving as a mirror for human creativity and a canvas for new dimensions of storytelling.

    "The Myth of the Creative Genius" systematically deconstructs the long-held notion of creativity as a rarefied domain exclusively inhabited by an elite. Instead, it highlights the inherently collaborative fabric of creativity, underscoring how AI-based tools augment this cooperative ethos. The chapter engages in an intellectual dissection of the traditional archetype of the 'solitary genius,' bringing to light the diverse elements contributing to the creative process.

    In the chapters that follow, an intricate exploration of the creative process takes center stage, with particular emphasis on the disruptive role that generative AI plays within this sphere. The discourse journeys through the essential nodes of creativity - intention, articulation, and manifestation - examining how AI instigates transformative shifts across these elements. Through an analytic lens, we explore the nuanced ways in which the integration of AI can reframe intention, enrich articulation, and usher in unanticipated avenues of manifestation, thereby reconfiguring the very architecture of the creative process. These chapters critically examine the intertwining dynamics of these components within the creative ecosystem and scrutinize the role of generative AI in perturbing and enriching these relationships, thereby instigating a nuanced understanding of creativity in the digital age.

    The book additionally embarks on an inquiry into the territory of design education, interrogating how AI impacts and transforms established principles and paradigms of design thinking. This discussion gains relevance in the context of emergent technologies such as additive manufacturing and scenario-based design, where the inclusion of AI prompts a re-evaluation of traditional methodologies and the potential birth of new design philosophies. It critically dissects how AI's capabilities in pattern recognition, simulation, and generative algorithms redefine pedagogical approaches and inform an evolved understanding of design principles.

    In a culminating reflection titled "Is Anything Artificial?" the book contemplates the entrenched dichotomy between the natural and the artificial. It posits a thought-provoking challenge to this binary classification, suggesting a more fluid and interwoven tapestry of creation that transcends origin. Through a synthesis of insights garnered throughout the book, this final section advocates for a re-evaluation of our categorizations and encourages a reconsideration of our conventional understandings, hinting at a harmonious co-existence where the lines between the 'natural' and 'artificial' are not just blurred, but perhaps even, unnecessary. This encompassing worldview acknowledges the interconnectedness and continuum in the very essence of creation, irrespective of its genesis.

    Artificial intelligence is more than a simple tool in our toolbox; it symbolizes our unyielding pursuit of transcendence, serving as a reflective canvas for our most profound creative yearnings. Our engagement with AI propels us past the boundaries of mechanical intelligence, guiding us toward the essence of our creative consciousness. This dynamic narrative is not about technology usurping humanity but a tribute to our inherent adaptability, evolutionary capability, and the limitless expanse of our imagination.

    As we dare to push the limits of our imagination, we sculpt the environment around us and our identities. This undertaking is essentially about evolution, growth, and transformation. It is about us - about you - teetering on the brink of a new era, primed to dive into the boundless depths of an uncharted paradigm. In this domain, the distinctions between natural and artificial dissolve as dreams intertwine with reality, and we collectively etch the outlines of a future beyond our wildest dreams.

    To transcend imagination is to stand at the edge of the known and the unknown, viewing it not as a cliff of fear but as a launchpad for daring exploration, powered by our curiosity and bolstered by our creative resilience. "Transcending Imagination" is more than an academic study; it is an intellectual expedition that encourages the reader to challenge established notions and reenvision the realms of art and creativity in the nexus of human intent and AI. The book proposes that AI is a reflection and amplifier of our creative aspirations, and it praises the flexible, evolving nature of human creativity in a period of rapid technological advancement. It calls upon readers to seize this transformative age, molding a future where art, design, and technology merge into inseparable components of the enduring act of creation.

ISBN 9781032584027 256 Pages 100 Color Illustrations Release Date: April 19, 2024 by Chapman & Hall

Part1 A New Creative Archetype
00 Introduction
01 Beyond Imagination
02 Art and the Sense of Sacredness
03 Form Shapes Perceptions
04 Incidental Beauty

Part2 Expanding Possibilities
05 Bias and Creative Intent
06 Maximizing Creativity
07 From Creators to Narrators
08 Sentience and Agency

Part3 Disruption and Transformation
09 The Myth of the Creative Genius
10 Intention Articulation Manifestation
11 The Generative Disruption

Part4 A Radical New Esthetic
12 Design Education: Beyond Conditional Archetypes
13 When Less is Not More Anymore
14 The Richly Imagined Everything
15 A Provocation: Is Anything Artificial?

© 2021 Alexander Manu