Monday, April 9, 2012

What is a Futurist?

My first experience with a futurist was actually much older than I was aware of.  Robert Heinlein was a futurist when he wrote the future history of earth.  He envisioned the rolling roads, a longevity breeding program, and space travel.  Back to the Future 2 showed us flying cars, hover-boards, and heads-up-display glasses.  Alvin Toffler predicted something eerily similar to the current internet, mass personal power (social media, anyone?), and the increasing focus on whole-life in business. 

Not all of those came true.  Half of the items above didn't even come close, and the other half were realized in related, but not exact, versions.  Versions of the future have left people wondering why we don't have working jet packs.  They've also given us pocket computers in the form of smart phones. 

What do Futurists do?

Futurists look at the trends of the world today and try to predict what will happen in the next five, ten, twenty, or more years in the future.  Their views are not always accurate, nor are they always wrong.  The provide a MODEL of the future for us to work with.  As I've learned, "All models are wrong, and some are useful."

But what good do they bring society?

Just spouting what they've been thinking about doesn't make for a lucrative career unless you're a sci-fi writer.  Futurists provide value by hooking the right people up with the right ideas, with the intent to steer individuals toward a certain future. 

Should they be doing that?

Of course!  Why not?  No one is forcing people to listen.  They are not being secretive about their predictions (generally).  Often, I've been unable to identify any personal long-term gain from the discussions brought on by Futurists.  It requires a lot of work to be good at it, and I'm sure successful practitioners our there do it as a labor of love. 

Should I be doing that?

You should certainly be looking around and trying to figure out where it is going.  If not because you're curious, then certainly because it mitigates some of the risks you subject your family to over the generations ahead.  I don't necessarily think you should be out on a soap box, but don't live like a hermit, either. 

This is a real job?!?!?

I think it sounds like a fantastic job.  I hope some day to have the chops to put together articles as fun as the Futurists I've been reading. 

Do you have any experience with futurists?  Did you read any books that seemed to tell the future? 

No comments:

Post a Comment