Post(s) tagged with "futurism"
Already claims are to be heard that future studies are merely an instrument whereby powerful groups, states or nations seek to impose their own image of the future, to create self fulfilling predictions in their own interests, and to undermine the hopes and confidence of those attracted to different visions of what the world might be.
John Goldthorpe, Theories of Industrial Society: Reflection on the Recrudescence of Historicism and the Future of Futurology
The new mindset for risk managers requires rituals and approaches that are deeply embedded in the scenario thinking process: a capacity for learning, an appreciation of uncertainty and ambiguity, an understanding of the value of strategic conversation and a willingness to explore uncharted territory. Increasingly, executives are appreciating that the changing nature of risk requires approaches that may initially be uncomfortable, but over time turn out to be more effective in embracing the unknown.
Doug Randall and Chris Ertel, Moving Beyond The Official Future
I wanted all the toys to come true someday. I want there to be a transportation system that doesn’t emit toxins into the atmosphere. And the newspaper that updates itself… The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. they can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing us, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.
Steven Spielberg, interviewed by Roger Ebert in 2002 about Minority Report
And, okay, I admit it. Even though we very modern futurists (who pooh-pooh “predictions” as the stuff of astrologers and TV pundits) are loathe to admit it, getting it right is a thrill. Laying out a forecast that, in the subsequent years, maps to an emerging reality is neat stuff, especially when the forecast includes various social components yet to show up. Add a catchy name and… well, you have the makings of a nice bullet point for the always-inevitable “hey Mr. Futurist, what predictions of yours have come true?” question.
Open the Future: #ifIhadglass (Jamais Cascio)
In response to the Under Tomorrows sky brief concept artist Daniel Dociu has developed a series of visions of our future city. In this ‘Urban Tectonic’ series Daniel is exploring the city as a constructed geology. The images can be seen now at MU in Eindhoven, NL. (via UNDER TOMORROWS SKY » UNDER TOMORROWS SKY CONCEPT ART BY DANIEL DOCIU)
Have you ever wondered why Alvin Toffler’s writings seem so strange today? Intellectually you can recognize that he saw a lot of things coming. But somehow, he imagined the future in future-unfamiliar terms. So it appears strange to us. Because we are experiencing a lot of what he saw coming, translated into terms that would actually have been completely familiar to him.
His writings seem unreal partly because they are impoverished imaginings of things that did not exist back then, but also partly because his writing seems to be informed by the idea that the future would define itself. He speaks of future-concepts like (say) modular housing in terms that make sense with respect to those concepts.
When the future actually arrived, in the form of couchsurfing and Airbnb, it arrived translated into a crazed-familiarity. Toffler sort of got the basic idea that mobility would change our sense of home. His failure was not in failing to predict how housing might evolve. His failure was in failing to predict that we would comprehend it in terms of “Bed and Breakfast” metaphors.
This is not an indictment of Toffler’s skill as a futurist, but of the very methods of futurism. We build conceptual models of the world as it exists today, posit laws of transformation and change, simulate possible futures, and cherry-pick interesting and likely-sounding elements that appear robustly across many simulations and appear feasible.
And then we stop. We do not transform the end-state conceptual models into the behavioral terms we use to actually engage and understand reality-in-use, as opposed to reality-in-contemplation. We forget to do the most important part of a futurist prediction: predicting how user experience might evolve to normalize the future-unfamiliar.
- Venkatesh Rao, Welcome to the Future Nauseous
At core, Toffler’s spin on futures is poorly conceived: we aren’t ‘shocked’ by the future. As Rao points out in his (wonderful) essay, we learn to accomodate technological changes because the ones that are successful are those that are most accessible: the ones that disrupt our weltanshauung least.
Toffler seems to only get excited by innovations that will abruptly change everything all at once, but innovations like today’s smartphones are incrementalist: they are like cell phones only smarter (smart meaning more capable). And cell phones are like phones, only mobile. We don’t jump from smoke signals to iPhones, we climbs six thousand stairs to get there.
The future isn’t like being sucked into a turbine and shredded into bits. It’s like eating: people ingest around 2000 lbs of food each year, and 98% of our atoms are exchanged. But we continue to look like and act like our old selves, even though we are almost completely new, at the atomic level.
We ingest the future, and it remakes us, foundationally: below most people’s awareness.
Web anthropologist, futurist, author. My focus is the future, and the tectonic forces pushing business, media, and society into an unclear and accelerating future. (More.)
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