The future and the limits of prediction

2014-08-10

in Daily updates

It’s inevitable, perhaps, that whatever sort of academic or professional training you get tends to be backward-looking. The people doing the teaching have succeeded under a particular set of conditions, and it’s perfectly well-meaning for them to provide the kind of advice, assignments, and requirements that were involved in their own development.

At the same time, the last 250 years of human history have been characterized by change so profound, constant, and multi-dimensional that we cannot expect the decades ahead to be governed by the same rules as the ones people have just experienced. For one thing, we have about 15 years to collectively decide if we’re going to have a future of wild climatic destabilization, with all the political, economic, and social consequences that would involve.

The prospect of trying to prepare yourself for a future that nobody can guess is daunting. Since nobody can single-handedly establish the conditions of their own future, we all need to be prepared for a range of possibilities. We can’t know what’s going be be essential, even in what remains of our own lives.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

alena prazak August 11, 2014 at 12:34 am

I have heard it said that “the only thing that is constant in our world and lives is change,” (Heraclitus–“All things are in flux like a river…”) and it is exactly this that has given inspiration to great minds to look ahead and think differently. Today, more than ever we have to turn away from what is comfortable and consider what is possible. The survival of our planet may depend on it.

anon August 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

If you really expect a crapworld future, there’s always the Sarah Conner option – live off the grid and practice up on guerilla warfare tactics

oleh August 13, 2014 at 3:51 am

Interesting observation. If that is true we may be doing children in school and students in post-secondary education a disservice in using seniority as the measure of a teacher’s entitlement to teach over others and tenure to protect university professors. The beneficiaries of both seniority and tenure may be the least capable of noting and adapting to the change that their pupils and students wills face.

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