Welcome to the future! As Futurists will tell you, the future is either really awesome, or very gloomy. Or both. Rarely is it tangible. Ask a real foresight specialist, though, and you will get a different drift. The future is already among us. As William Gibson put it, the future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed. We are probably overlooking signs of it.
Why? Because we imagine the future economy and society as some augmented reality version of the present. That’s reasonable, but fundamentally flawed. Humanity tends to overestimate the speed of change but underestimate its magnitude. When we try to fit future into present reality, it escapes us altogether. Equally, trying to fit our present reality into a future vision is a little bit like a Victorian imagining life around the 21st century: It’s bound to be hilariously inaccurate.
What that means is, the future is likely very unreasonable. Even the short-term future. Much of the tech innovation in your pocket was still far from world domination merely five years ago. The future is tricky, and futurists are magicians more than scientists. But the future isn’t entirely a mystery. The world does follow certain algorithms, and the biggest and most influential category of them is human behaviour. Much of it follows clear rules and paths on the aggregate. Observe it carefully, and you will understand what future we can expect to get. Behaviour drives decisions, decisions create choices, choices create our future. Individually and collectively.
Let’s remember that the future is the domain of realists and idealists – not illusionists. Ask a student what they want to be by the time they grow up, and you have yourself a very shaky future picture. Observe how they think and behave, and you will be in a far better position to predict their path ahead. The conscious futurist will prioritise human behaviour over noise. It isn’t just more accurate. It’s also vastly more entertaining. The best stories of all time study the human condition, not just the human mouthpiece. If you want to understand what the future holds, understand yourself today. This applies to every organisation, every individual and every idea with a future. This is the story of future and foresight, and why our future is something we will co-create together. It’s also the story of my new book, RESET: Rethinking Our World and Creating a Different Future.