“If you’re not at the table then you could be on the menu.”  

Who said it first? Lots of people have been given credit.  

While the utterer has been lost in the mist of time, the meaning is pretty clear. Make sure you have an input or a voice, or it could come back to bite you. 

As society contemplates a myriad of transformative global changes, it’s why accessibility has never been more important. 

People could be in danger of not having a say, or not being involved when developments are realised.  

Proper representation helps. That is why the UK charity sector has been aggrieved that the role of disability minister was downgraded. No seat at the Cabinet table.  

But for our brave new world to be truly egalitarian it is about more than leadership.  

Take LLMs as an example. They are built on existing and often similar datasets, where inherent biases in society could already be baked into the end product. Some of the most popular models have shown this to be the case. Many display a political slant 

As the DeepMind team developing Gemini pointed out: “we believe that many interesting questions remain around finding the optimal dataset distribution for pre-training. Getting the answer right is particularly important as LLMs move to a multimodal approach including image, audio and video.  

But looking at our track record on Web 2.0 accessibility would worry even the most ardent optimist.  

While the team at Gov.uk works hard to monitor web and app accessibility regulations for the public sector, there is limited resource. The CDDO’s last report breaking down compliance was published in late 2021.  

These rules do not apply to the private sector. The risk of businesses not meeting WCAG 2.1 Level AA is even greater. Bad actors are supposed to be held to account through the Equality Act, but cases rarely end up in court. 

If we can’t get Web 2.0 accessibility right, what hope it there for the development of LLMs, AGI or the advent of gene-editing? 

Looking closer to home, what about futures and forecasting? Colleagues in our industry have a big role to play. Our tools and techniques must be implemented with inclusivity as a starting point.  

Are we ensuring a morphological analysis sets out the component parts of a problem from the perspective of as wide a cohort as possible? The Delphi experts we are using might know their stuff, but is group think being encouraged with specialists that have similar experience, backgrounds and characteristics? When teaching others, are the tools we use appropriate for people with learning needs? 

Next Generation Foresight Practitioners are doing some leading work in this space, aiming to democratise our work by focusing their efforts on young practitioners and those in the Global South. 

Want to know more about what ForgeFront does to leave a legacy for every single one of our customers? Pop us a message. The future is too important to be left to those who currently enjoy a seat at the table.  

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