Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What does a futurist do?

"What futurists actually do is facilitate as groups of people work through a highly structured, sometimes months-long process of coming up with as many hypothetical futures as they can, in order to prepare for more or less anything."
"When Ms. Webb and I settled on the future of self-driving bus transit, we at first imagined that the group transport services proposed today by Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. might be the death of bus stops and pre-planned bus routes. But as we picked apart our assumptions, it became clear that the predictable nature of most commutes would mean not dynamic bus routes, but routes that were simply better informed by data about where and how often people actually need mass transit."
"One thing all the futurists I talked to had in common was disdain for anyone willing to attempt to predict the future. In futuring circles, paradoxically, this is the mark of an amateur.
Actually practicing futurism, even if only for a day, showed me the reason the future is so confounding: Aside from the fact that anything can happen, those unexpected events rapidly compound on one another. This leads to second, third and nth-order effects that can seem completely beyond the realm of plausibility until they happen. Hence the impossibility of predicting financial crises, wars and technological revolutions."

That's from the Wall Street Journal, in an article about futurism (as a profession, not an artistic movement). Now that's a job that grabs my imagination.

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