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Social Futurism

by C. Ross Jam on January 21, 2012

No not futurism done socially, but futurism that focuses on social developments. Noted futurist Jamais Cascio discoursed on how futurism has been pretty good in predicting technological developments, but pretty poor in foreseeing the grand social changes of our times:

And on and on. If futurists have become almost too good at technological foresight, we remain woefully primitive in our abilities to examine and forecast changes to cultural, political, and social dynamics.

Enjoyed the piece and am quite sympathetic. Definitely worth your time. Being employed by the American military-industrial complex I’ve sort of been at the frontline of this overriding preoccupation with technology and inability to deal with large scale social dynamics. Increasingly I’m coming to the conclusion that understanding and shaping social dynamics are central to solving the world’s problems. Technological means will be a part, maybe even the key catalyst, they’re not a sufficient condition unto themselves.

We’ve demonstrated we can come up with a tech doodad to solve many complex issues and systematic processes for generating those doodads. But thanks to globalization and hyper-connectivity, maximizing the impact is always a challenge of collective action bordering on a wicked problem.

Maybe this is an indicator of why I enjoy William Gibson so much.

P. S. Even though this is my first link, Cascio’s Open The Future is a good thought provoking read on a continuous basis.

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