There is no Single Future!

From IFTF’s blog written by Alex Soojung Kim. He came to talk to us last year at the RCA about various issues to do with his role at the IFTF.

I am particular interested in his interpretation of what he judges to be a futurist’s role compared to the more esoteric role of the fortunteller. And his belief that there is no platonic way to know the future or envision the future especially when less fact actually gives more clarity.

“Our default assumption about the future is that it’s a puzzle. There is A Single Future, just like a single location where Osama bin Laden is hiding, and with enough information, we can solve it. But in reality, the future isn’t a puzzle; it’s a mystery. We can assemble vast amounts of information that offer clues about the future, but that information is going to be full of contradictions, mixed signals, and noise. Piling on even more facts won’t make the future easier to divine; it’ll make seeing the future harder. Why is this so? Because there is no Single Future that futurists should be looking for. There are many possible futures, and the job of the futurist is to sort out which are more likely, and to help people see the contingency and opportunity in those futures. If fortunetellers traffic in knowledge of inevitabilities– in knowing exactly what is going to happen and when– the end-point of futurists’ work should be a better knowledge of the contingency that’s hard-wired into the future.”

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