Future Week 1: Mapping to the Past

February 8, 2018

The Task At Hand

From what I’ve gathered, there doesn’t seem to be much of a method to what constitutes a “futurist”. first off, I don’t like that term. Maybe that will change by the end of this class, but to me it carries the same weight as “wine connoisseur”; as in making a career off of what might not even be a skill!

As we’ve reiterated, knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. Yes the wisdom algorithm works best with more input, doesn’t guarantee it. So in essence it just gives a better chance when we roll the dice. I keep asking myself the question: What is the difference between me and that taxi driver who drove me home and had opinions about almost anything? What gives me the big snobby ego that I’m more right more times? Do I look back and see the many correct predictions I’ve had? Well memory is super selective, right? I haven’t done any stats on the number of time I’ve been wrong, how can I ever compare myself to ANYONE then?

The Shell example came up in the class and in the readings. It could be any old example, it could be the 2008 crisis. In both examples there is a single digit percent of strategists who knew what was going on and tried to warn others about it. That’s just not acceptable in ANY other field. You can’t be right 10% of the time as a pilot, engineer, or anything for that matter! Or better phrased: we can’t live in a world where only 10% of the professionals are doing a good job. It’s like going to homeopathic doctor: it seems like they’re making legitimate claims, but there’s hardly ANY good stats to their results.

So after the task we’re to do in the class was described as scenario, and emphasis on the title, sparked something in me:

-are we going to look at them archetypically?

-Yes, -Yes!

Now that sparked something in me. I like archetypical analysis! I also like evolutionary analysis, when it’s appropriate. I like archetypes because they reveal patterns of behavior we have in the face of life events. It isn’t immediately obvious why we behave the way we do. It’s hard to look at it objectively. We are trying to explain the behavior of a creature we don’t fully understand. The concept of objective reality is a fairly recent discovery compared to our history as a species. We were about survival, especially in the face of the unknown. And we praised those who overcame the unknown and we tell their stories. Now those are our archetypes. Those are patterns of action deeply rooted in our evolution as a species. It’s sourced to our ancestors, all the way back to when we were sea creatures.

I parallel this with Evolutionary analysis of biological phenomena as well. Especially with things regarding perception. Our subjective perception is a peculiar thing. It feels so real, because it is all we get from the physical reality, yet it has not much to do with the physical reality. It’s just how we react to the physical world. Now WHY do we react that way? Now that’s a hard question to answer.

with perception, you face the issue of Inverse Problem.
To put it simply, we know how it’s perceived, but we don’t exactly know what exactly caused it or what happened to the causing signal before it reaches our consciousness. It’s an inverse problem. We know the answer, and work our way from there.

The evolutionary scope works here, especially when faced with perceptual anomalies, because it’s more focused on the why rather than how. An important point here is to have the right attitude towards “perceptual mistakes”, or so called “illusions”. The word illusion implies that we are perceiving correct most time and sometimes we make mistakes. Which in reality, they are all just the way we perceive, and the “illusions” only sometimes reveal the inner workings of our perception.

for example: We have a high reaction to snake shaped objects in our lower peripheral vision. Now you can test that with other shapes of animals (the research used spiders to control), and you can go as far as even identifying the exact circuitry from our fovea to our leg muscles that makes us jump without even thinking. But it won’t tell you much about WHY we react the way we do. Although in this case, the evolutionary analysis is quite obvious: Snakes are our classic enemies. From the Bible back to our oldest stories, and even before that as primates living in trees. A chimp on a tree would have a much higher chance of survival when it can detect an approaching camouflaged snake approaching its tree.

This is, to me, parallel to archetypical analysis of human behavior. If primates were able to tell stories, it’s not hard to imagine that the story of the chimp who could detect threats earlier, would be on top. Actually, there are lots of archetypes praising great vision. From Horus, all the way back to Marduk in our earliest recorded history.

Mastering Time as an Archetype

The question of how technology has changed our perception of time was what we seemed to be exploring. And that’s regardless of if we actually do use time more efficiently, or we have just gotten more efficient at wasting time as well. (You amplify Signal with the Noise. eh?)

But more on my mind was WHY are we obsessed with it?

You don’t need to go too far back to see the inspirations for the devices we use today. There are exact copies in StarTrek and StarWars. If you want to go further back, you can find magic mirrors and crystal balls that enable remote communication. It’s clear we’ve been obsessed with the concept longer than it might seem. You go further back and you have Mercury, messenger of the divine and god of speed. Well what sort of traits become divine? The ones we respect (which one can argue is all). So mastering time and space, as a god, is one of the divine traits that people always strive to achieve. Now you can source this back all the way to the primates. And that’s where the archetypical and the evolutionary points collide: it’s not hard to imagine the faster chimp to be praised and valued among the tribe. It can run away from predators, run ahead of the pack and warn them about the dangers ahead. It can see the future in some sense. It can also be a bearer of good news. New food source or water source ahead. Of course this kind of trait would be praised and placed in a divine being.

Now of course I’m going out on a limb here, knowing that this is a blue sky kind of assignment, so I’m experimenting a bit here. So another reason i like this analogy is the way it can be mapped out into the future by looking at how the pattern manifested itself into action in history. The idea of unifying traits and deities into one, or even destroying them to build new worlds out of them, is not so far-fetched. Marduk did it, Egyptians did it, Romans did it, even Mohammad destroyed all the idols inside Ka’ba first thing after he conquered Mecca.

We’ve already done this with technology a number of times. The smartphone is a clear manifestation of the desire to unify multiple devices, multiple talents, multiple gods let’s say; into one. So how does it map out to the future? Am i readying grounds to predict singularity? Well… no. Like the computer from Asimov’s “The Last Question” learned:

“THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

See, the reason is, we still don’t understand ourselves. And most ideologies that have tried to simplify our understanding of ourselves, have failed and murdered millions on its way. We once thought we’ll invent machines that do the work for us and we’ll just sit back and relax. Turns out that doing the work is integral for us to overcome the suffering of being. We don’t know how we will react to the ideas, and until we haven’t explored them, we don’t know how we’ll react to them. It’s explained as “An idea revealing itself to you”.

Everyone knows nowadays that people “have complexes.” What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us. – Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8: Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche (par. 200)

which i think is a fairly explored phenomena at iTP. We actually build the idea, and that’s when it reveals itself to us so we can experience it and find the perfect version of it inside there ourselves.

So this is how i think it might be mapped out to the past and the future.

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