How Culture and Values shape the Future

When contemplating the world of tomorrow, one of the questions that needs answering is: What are the main forces driving the future? It is almost like the holy grail of Futurism. If you could know the main drivers that determine the direction that we will be moving in, then you could guess so much better where our next destination would be.
But before I let the cat out of the bag, I need to give you some context. I am going to draw on two well known concepts.

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Order, chaos and the future

How did we get from hunter-gatherer to where we are today? There are many answers to this question which ranges from historical based theories to space aliens. One thing however remains certain, that without so called “organisation” appearing on the scene, none of what we see today would be here. The philosophical underpinning here is that progress does not come from chaos, a system needs structure, rules and predictability if it is to amount to anything worth while. The universe started of chaotic but had it not been for the rules of physics there would be no light, no planetary orbits, and ultimately no you nor I contemplating the meaning of it all.

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Blind spots, habits and the future

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Who was that guy who came up with the idea of selling sliced bread? For the purpose of this discussion knowing his name is not important, what matters is knowing that sliced bread was initially marketed as the greatest innovation in the baking industry since selling wrapped bread!
This obviously implies that there was a time when bread was sold unwrapped, and someone came up with the bright idea! I am going to add to this the fact that it took 15 years for the idea of sliced bread to rise to the cult status of the best idea ever. But really, isn’t it the most obvious idea ever?

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The future of products…or anything

As a species, we are the product of evolution. It is fair to assume that we competed our way to the top. Since we are the result of natural selection, it would be safe to assume that other versions of our species did not make it. Slight variations that didn’t allow individuals a competitive edge simply fell by the wayside. The process of natural selection is logically and rationally sound. Meaning that it’s a solid framework within which to work. If it is good enough for Mother Nature, is should be good enough for us.

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Predicting the Future

Can we predict the future? This particular question has two answers, which can be combined into a single answer.
The first answer is: Yes, we can definitely predict the future.
The second answer is: No, we can absolutely not predict the future.
Combination answer is:
We can predict the future sometimes, imperfectly, with a varying degree of error.
This is however not the most important question that we should be asking with regard to any type of activity which has as its basis, the goal of predicting the future. The most important question we should be asking, is whether we should be trying?

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Why insight into the future is a responsibility

There was a time when predicting the future was the work of those who could communicate with spirits, read the stars or throw bones. Oracle’s and Shamans, Soothsayers and Druids, and the list goes on and on. The point is that ever since the time our first ancestors decided to walk upright, we as a species have known that knowledge about what was waiting up ahead could mean the difference between victory and defeat. We know that knowledge of the future could mean the difference between life and death.
 

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