Why Futurism is a Branch of Philosophy


Originally posted March 12, 2017 on jamesbiller.com

“The whole point of my thesis, of the coming Singularity revolution, is that this notion of a machine- of non-biological intelligence- will fundamentally change.” -Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near

Futurism is a philosophical issue because it deals with truth and wisdom, and the possibility of non-biological automatons gaining truth and wisdom. Evaluating possible future outcomes using mathematical models such as statistics as well as artistic models such as science-fiction, we can glimpse at what the future of our multiverse might hold for us here on our tiny little blue and green sphere we call Mother Earth.

Futurism deals with predicting the future, and in some sense philosophers predict what the truth is with their thought experiments. Sometimes philosophical truths end up being scientific truths in a later era thanks to new pioneering technologies that have enabled such discoveries. In this sense, futurists and philosophers are alike- they both hold things to be true before science concretizes their truth in reality. A good example of this is Democritus’s theory of atoms that he presumably came up with around 400 B.C. The theory was more or less correct scientifically, but was held as a philosophical notion of truth until scientific evidence moved it into the realm of scientific truth in the 19th century with J.J Thompson’s scientific discoveries.

It’s fascinating that futurism’s artistic corollary is science-fiction. Star Wars, Star Trek, and other sci-fi classics remind us that our universe is big and our timescale long. Also, note the placement of a 3-D Printer-like object, “The Replicator” in Star Trek. Artistic truths have developed into scientific truths (though the capabilities of 3D printers have not developed to this stage- yet).

“The Replicator” serving a meal that it created.

Science-fiction provides us with a metaphysical concretization of what the future might look like with its swanky, spanking new chromatic technologies that enable our lives to become easier and easier, and easier.

Another artistic truth that has evolved into a scientific truth…

A flying car produced by a Slovakian company, Aeromobile

In The Jetsons flying cars were introduced as a part of art: a science fiction cartoon. We already have flying cars (and self-driving) in production, and in the future these sci-fi-like machines will evolve into scientific truths integrated into our everyday existence as if they were always around. Futurism is the philosophical branch between hard science and the art of science-fiction, and its importance as a field is gaining as time goes by. Eventually a plethora of self-flying cars equipped with superintelligent Siri-like co-pilots will enable our species to cruise through the skies with ease, and eventually the stars.