UPLINK: 2020-05-07 I am a futurist

I am a futurist.

Here's the definition of from wikipedia:

Futurists are people whose specialty or interest is futurology or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general.

I had the moment of enlightenment that I'm a futurist over the past few weeks. I noticed a few of my friends and family have been calling me a conspiracy theorist. Yep, you heard that right, they think I have views of the future that don't fit the mainstream, or sound so ridiculous they are conspiracies. I've been debating why this is. I don't think I'm a nutcase. Most of my views are merely my understanding of the facts presented to me today and extrapolating them out into various long term scenarios over say 5-10 years. Doing some impact analysis of some of the motivations for decisions that are being made and what that will mean for humanity into the future (kinda deep stuff huh). That's when I looked up the term futurist and I thought bingo! that's me.

I'm fascinated with technology. Here's a few topics that really interest me to the point where I read books (yes those things) and regularly capture my thoughts in to private journals.

  • Biotech
  • Nanotechnology
  • 3D printing
  • Cryptocurrency and blockchain
  • AI and automation
  • Quantum computing
  • Worldwide gigabit connectivity
  • Robotics
  • Big data
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
  • Sensors and IoT

Equally, it's now being understood that it is the convergence of these technologies that will give us a new "Law of Accelerating Returns" Forget Moore's Law, which has stood for over 50 years, that will look like snail's pace soon. As someone who has a pretty deep level of understanding of those technologies (alright I'm a bit fuzzy on blockchain) and I understand the power of convergence I can start to map some very interesting (and very possible) scenarios in the next 5 to 10 years. That makes me a futurist.

In terms of mapping out those scenarios I try apply critical thinking on how future technology will affect:

  • Privacy
  • Freedom of speech
  • Health
  • The economy
  • Geopolitics
  • Society
  • The human condition

Some of these future scenarios I and other futurists consider are highly likely (and are playing out right now), some scenarios are probable, but some possible. But sadly it seems today to think critically and have an alternative view gets one labelled as a conspiracy theorist. I don't get it. All through my life, as Bachelor of Science, in my working career, or looking at major life decisions - I've been taught gather information, build knowledge, to hypothesise and debate, then draw a conclusion. It seems to me critical thinking is too much effort for people now. It's easier to follow the narrative, get told what to do, call someone a name or dig out a meme. That's just lazy.

Here's a few other references from Wikipedia with things futurists have in common including:

Multiple perspectives are at heart of futures studies, including unconventional thinking, internal critique, and cross-cultural comparison.

Futurists are motivated by change. They are not content merely to describe or forecast. They desire an active role in world transformation.

They are hopeful for a better future

So before you label someone a conspiracy theorist, or tell them to "put on their tinfoil hat", consider for a second that they might be a futurist. Some of humanities greatest achievements have been due to people thinking differently. However, I recognise that this whole article might come across as a little pretentious, and I'm not proclaiming to be the next Da Vinci, Newton or Galilei, far from it. Equally, these great thinkers weren't always right, but that's ok too. As someone who believes free speech is fundamental to what makes us human, it is frustrating to to see more aggressive Government and Silicon Valley led censorship and propaganda that is promoting a single narrative. Did we learn nothing from the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

So there you have it, if you want to label me, you can label me a futurist.

-Winston Smith


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