3:1 — Future of Futuring — Post 3 of 3

2019-02-01

In the final post of the three part post (here are two and one), I take-on “futuring” as a way to know the future of the future. 

We make futures to increase our influence on our networks in ways that are perceived beneficial.  Futuring involves creating information about the future by extrapolating the patterns, anticipating outcomes by contemplating future states of affairs, and leveraging this to generate insight to inform action.

In a world with where most of the inhabitants on this planet who struggle to foresee alternative pathways to procure their the next meal, we are reminded of the privilege it is to do futuring.  Most of the advanced tools of futures studies and foresight today were developed in the think-tanks supported by the defense industry. Its a diverse toolbox of quantitative and qualitative methods, that continue to be blended and sequenced in novel ways for different purposes and questions-at a high price.

My expectation is that the future of futures will be an expansion of access to futuring for more people, that affords many more to undertake informed action. The costs, technologies, information, and time necessary to wielding advanced planning and foresight tools are becoming more accessible.

I share the concerns with the previous poster’s concerns with algorithms – the best chess player used to be the human. Then it was a machine. Now it is a machine-supported human. Most routine manufacturing is done by already human-supported machines. In “lights-out” factories, complete automation allows for operate without human intervention – no lights, no heat, no toilets. The orders come in, widgets are manufactured or printed according to specification, boxed, and shipped out. The robots inside are doing things, but are unable to make non-routine plans in futures with humans in them.

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Erik Olin Wright, 71, Dies

Erik Olin Wright passes away (New York Times article):

Erik Olin Wright, a Marxist sociologist who helped bring to light the complexities of social and economic classes and explored alternatives to capitalism, including a universal basic income, died on Jan. 23 in Milwaukee. He was 71.

One of his earliest books, “Class, Crisis, and the State” was a game-changer for me.

* image source: https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/

 

3:1 — The Future of the Future — Post 2 of 3

After Jan‘s post earlier this week, I was moved by a comments to it, namely, the idea that it is, in fact, so difficult to talk about the future of the future, and, in particular, the good comment that “aren’t we always making the future?” I plain sense, I do think that we are always “making the future” in the process of doing just about anything; however, taken to its not-too-distant logical conclusion, this would mean that “making the future” is so obviously ubiquitous that it cannot — in and of itself — be special.

I confess, that did not encourage me much.

  • On the one hand, if doing the future is ubiquitous, then just “doing” and “doing the future” are synonymous (ack! nothing gained there!).
  • On the other hand, if it is ubiquitous, is there any imaginable consequence of not conceiving of just “doing stuff” as explicitly the same thing and not some other type of thing as “doing the future”?

It is the latter, not the former, that moves me, and to which I devote the next couple of paragraphs. It is from this vantage point that “the future of the future” might productively be discussed.

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Burden of choice: from ANT through Mao to game of Go and back

Blog, I am back!

I would like to invite you to read my, Andrzej Nowak‘s, new article The Burden of Choice, the Complexity of the World and Its Reduction: The Game of Go/Weiqi as a Practice of “Empirical Metaphysics”, where actor-network theory meets with game of Go/Weqi, with little help of Mao Zedong.

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Podcast recapping the Futures & Foresight Science Conference

After the Futures and Foresight Conference in Warwick in December, three members from the Association of Professional Futurists (APF), Andrew Curry, Wendy Schultz, and Tanja Hichert, sat down and recollected their takeaways and highlights from the conference and recorded it as a podcast. As the first in an occasional series of “Compass” podcasts, we were honored that Matt’s presentation was able to generate some laughter from them (you will find their recap of Matt’s talk at 15:30 about our work in this paper, this one, and this one). Perhaps readers of Installing Order would like to contribute some podcast material in the future (!?) — we would be happy to put it on the blog.

 

 

Happy New Year from ISO!

The blog is making some big changes in 2019: 

Cheers and Happy New Year! 

* image from: http://www.walkwithgod.org/where-am-i-going/

 

Planning Paradox

Planning practices — strategic planning, scenario planning, and the like — have taken firm root in both the public and private sector. Governments roll-out security scenarios. For-profit firms establish short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategic plans. More and more; on and on, the planning seems never to stop in our postmodern age.

Most folks are, thus, rightly surprised to find out that scholars typically do not know why planning processes work or, when they fail, why. The reasons are deep-seated and my co-author (Matthew Spaniol) and I (Nicholas Rowland) tackle a few of them in our new paper “the scenario planning paradox,” which builds on some of our previous work about multiplicitous notions of “the future” and plural “futures” as well as the social practices associated with the process of scenario planning in the first place. Below is the abstract and link to the planning paradox paper:

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Blade Runner is 2017?

 

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‘Blade Runner’s’ chillingly prescient vision of the future” offers a (brief) review of the 1982 Ridley Scott film and how much 2017 appears to reflect Scott’s portrayal of the human-machine interface. With ‘Blade Runner 2049‘ coming out soon (today, I think), the short piece is a nice opportunity to return to the 1982 now-classic film.

As a sidebar: In terms of visions of the future, it is always interesting to me that “vision of the future” is characterized here as “look, Scott got it more right than he might have known;” however, his view of the future, a strict prognostication or even foresight, is not really consistent with the academic study of the future (not that the author of this piece should be held to that standard). On balance, there are “ethnographers of the future” looking into science fiction too, but there is also a growing linkage between STS and a small world called futures studies, ontological research on the character of the future as a concept, and even scholars that do not owe much of their intellectual heritage to either tradition making serious headway into managing multiple futures. Getting past “visions of the future made in the past were right or wrong” as a framework might make for some interesting discussion in the public media realm, provided readers want something past the all-too-easy “they got it right!” or “ha! They botched it” critiques leveled safely from the sidelines in retrospect.

On Retracting Papers

A

It is bad to demand the retraction non-fraudulent papers. But why? I think the argument rests on three intuitions. First, there is a legal reason. When an editor and publisher accept a paper, they enter into a legal contract. The authors produces the paper and the publisher agrees to publish. To rescind publication of a […]

Dovetails with concerns over peer review in general, related horror stories, and even the outer limits of the practice.

via why is it bad to retract non-fraudulent and non-erroneous papers? — orgtheory.net

* image from here.

Ahhh…Seriously again? On “How French Postmodernism ‘Ruined the West'”

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We are living in a time of intellectual fights. As STSers, we sometimes feel like being pushed back into the 1990s, only that the strange debates we had back then on “Science as Practice and Culture” have made it onto the streets and into mainstream media. Sure, we have expressed many times that we love science and love technology and today we join (and even practically and intellectually lead) the “march for science”. But the shortcut “post…” -> “relativism” -> “danger” seems to be still in place. A recent piece on HOW FRENCH “INTELLECTUALS” RUINED THE WEST: POSTMODERNISM AND ITS IMPACT, EXPLAINED argued for that – again. We’ve written about postmodernism many times, even in a 1, 2, 3 set of posts, so there is – intellectually – not a lot to add to that nonsense. But maybe it is time to take that, well, personal again: If that attitude is still a guidance for the modern, for the west, maybe we should have ruined it when we had the chance. Or, if that sounds too offended, why we obviously never had the chance to do so.

Do search engines make cultural capital less valuable? 

A student of mine said something last week that gave me déjà vu. We completed our lessons on “social class” and the student was having difficulty with the notion of cultural capital.

In class, waving an iPhone in the air, s/he said:

“Why would anybody need to know this when you have the whole world’s knowledge in your pocket?”

The student was referring to the ability to command cultural knowledge (i.e., cultural capital).

Reminded me of this immediately: And a student said “Ah, so like, people with cultural capital don’t need Google…ohhhh, I get it”