Thursday, 1 March 2012

FUTUROLOGY

A cheerful exercise

If you are in part of the world where the popular-science weekly New Scientist is sold, look out on the news stands for the bright orange dayglow cover of this week's special issue: 'The deep future: a guide to humanity's next 100,000 years'.

Its sixteen pages of short feature articles around this ambitious time scale certainly help put today's questions of into perspective– not just today's but those of our whole generation and well beyond.

And, such a refreshing change, this is a futurology that may be generally be described as upbeat. Reading it left me feeling just a tiny little bit wiser, a tiny little bit more optimistic for the long term, even though there will most certainly be some very hard times for an awful lot of people in the meantime!

Our own short term

100,000 years may not be a long time sub specie aeternitatis, but it is quite a long one for the species homo sapiens. As for the shorter term, however, well, that is a matter quite outside this special issue's brief. As the Editor remarks –

It is easier to think about very long timescales than how technology will evolve in the near future.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Just over year ago, at the 7th International CE Congress in Hong Kong, I was asked to contribute a few minutes to the concluding Round Table plenary session on 'CE in the Twenty-First Century'. Even with only ninety years of the century to run, I found such prediction beyond my powers of foresight.

I have published what I did come up with as part of my recent collection Last Year in Hong Kong.

What's your guess?

References

(2012) Special Report: The deep future, New Scientist, vol. 213, no 2854, 3 March, pp. 36-49
Brief previews of the Editorial and the various articles are available on line:

Sutton, A. (2011) in Last Year in Hong Kong, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, pp. 45-48
Preview and purchase on line:




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