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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall …

What is (our) Future after all?

“Understanding the future will influence your present” — picture by Armin Puehringer 05/2020

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present, said Grand Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda. This life advice, traceable back to the 2000-year-old Carpe Diem of Horace, is more valid than ever. Except, there is one essential restriction: If we want to continue seizing the day, we will urgently need to demystify the phenomenon of what we call the future.

Future is relative

My childhood hero was a Japanese anime called Captain Future. This space-traveling scientist and adventurer showed me how a science-fiction inspired future could look. Ironically, my time horizon was pretty limited in those days. I thought in categories of By-the-end-of-the-school-year. Once university started, this virtual time border crumbled, and I looked a bit further, with mixed results. At the age of 19, I imagined how it might feel to be 30 years old. It felt weird and so far away. I quickly thought of something else. Another magic point was the year 2000, a moment in a distant future back then in the 1990s. Now, this is 20 years in the past. Millennials among you will shake their head in disbelief, but what was my Y2K landmark, might be your personal 2030 or 2050. By the way, Generation C (post corona) will have a fair chance to see the year 2100, unless singularity does not have anything against that.

For most of my life, I did not think about the future too much. I was a man of the present and enjoyed it to the max. At least, that is what I thought. Subconsciously, many different shades of what we call the future influenced my life. For instance, when I was thinking about the evening, about tomorrow, my plan for the next week or the next summer vacation, all had a touch of the future in it, short term, but still. When I prepared my first financial plan, I had to consider five years. Funny figures, I thought. Who can predict so far ahead? Or during a job interview, I was asked where I would see myself in ten years. With increasing life experience, I understood the relativity of future to age, and it became a fascinating concept to me.

Future does not stop (after one year)

According to Wikipedia, the future is the time after (or depending on the perspective, before) the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Presentism is a belief where only the present exists, while the future and past are unreal. As tempting as this thought is (the matrix is calling), it triggers questions about existence or reality? Before getting drawn too deep into such a philosophical discussion, let us move on to a fascinating scientific discipline called Futurology. It discusses how future or possible futures can look. Why should this be of any interest to us?

First, unless you believe in destiny, meaning your life is preset, having an idea of our future present implies that we can influence the latter at least to a certain extent. Nevertheless, most people (also non-destiny believers) go with the flow of time. They live in a period of up to a maximum of 12 months, too short to notice mid to long-term opportunities and risks. Only a small number is actively trying to understand and to influence what lies ahead of us in this critical time of up to ten years. I hope to inspire some people to join this latter group. In the end, they will be responsible for making us moving in one or the other direction.

Future is the present (of tomorrow)

Future is the present of tomorrow! Therefore we need to think more about what might be waiting for us in the years to come. Otherwise, there is no guarantee for seizing the day in future times. Sure, physically there will be a present, but maybe one without us. So, where is the risk? Technological innovations will improve our lives, but some could also cause disruptions too large to handle or, in the case of Artificial Intelligence, respectively Singularity change the meaning of life at all.

We are at crossroads. Without understanding what the future could bring, there is a danger that we will take the wrong path. I believe that we can still set a new, better course for our future to come, rather than just drifting towards a possible gigantic waterfall. In a series of articles, publications and keynotes, I will try to reflect, to provoke, and ultimately to fuel discussions around certain aspects of a future that not only our children but that most of us will still live to see. The road towards 2030 and beyond is exciting, fast, but challenging. I am excited to share additional insights with you and to enter into a vibrant exchange of thoughts. Unless you are interested in the future, you will be able to remain captain of your life!

Key takeaways

1. Future is relative in its perception but absolute in its impact.

2. The next ten years are critical for our long term future.

3. Opportunities and risks are concepts that originate from the future but materialize in the present.

My Next Planned Articles

  • Singu-Diddly-Doodly-larity, what? (June 2020)
  • The Future of Information (July 2020)
  • The World in 2030 (July 2020)

If you are interested in my thoughts, please regularly check out my Medium account, or contact me via LinkedIn or Facebook.

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where the future is written

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Armin B. Puehringer

Armin B. Puehringer

Tech Enthusiast. Futurist. Citizen * Entrepreneur. Investor. Manager * Source of Inspiration. Master of Resilience * Runner. Thinker. Speaker. )'(

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