Being a Philosopher and a Futurist
I always wanted to make sweeping predictions about the future. And be quoted and included in a documentary on the History channel; back when it was a thing. What does it take to be a Futurist? (Insert “Aliens” meme here.)
I understand a little better about what it means to be a philosopher. Notice that’s small-p philosopher. Everyone is, can, and should be a philosopher. Or at least have moments of philosophical reflection. Not everyone can be a Philosopher, the type you read about or quote, but everyone can relate to having those moments of reflection. The word philosopher means a lover of wisdom. Really that just means trying to learn. Let’s stick with that simple definition. To learn about the human condition and the nature of existence.
So what is a Futurist? Really it’s just someone who speculates about the future. Everyone speculates about the future — on where they want to be in life or daydreaming about the weekend — but in this case it is about technology and its impact on the human condition. Science Fiction writers and technologists try to predict the technology of tomorrow. Oftentimes the predictions of the past seem comical or frustrating. Flying cars and hover boards? Other times it is amazingly forward looking — wireless, portable audio communicators and touch-pad computing devices. All too often it is endless visions of our doom.
And so I am frustrated. I am disappointed at the endless dystopian futures that have become a science fiction norm. (Although I admit to often enjoying them.) The constant fear mongering of technology, particularly the highly sophisticated technologies of genetics, computers, and robotics plays into a base Luddite reactionary instinct. It is easy to fear the unknown. And it is easy to believe the worst of the future of those unknowns. But this is not the general trend of human existence.
We need a positive vision of a future that is possible to inspire people to create that future. Just as Star Trek has done for the people creating today’s technological revolutions, we need a leap in the view of the future that extrapolates from our current perspective to create this new vision.
In the mean time, I’ll leave this video for your consideration: Welcome to the Bronze Age.