Which Way Do You Think the Future Gets Formed?

We Have Identified Nine Alternative Logics – Can You Find Yours From the List?

August 3, 2017, Tuomo Kuosa

Many futurists believe that a good way to better understand people´s future-oriented beliefs, behaviour and decisions, is to use their world views as a starting point. This idea adopted from psychology suggests that one´s world view sets the unconscious filters to the things that we observe, reject right away or want to memorise, and it also tells a lot about how we connect the dots in any picture. Hence, following this logic, the key to better understanding our future-oriented reasoning is to know our world views, that constitute the lenses that we use.

The idea behind this method of future lenses was originally introduced by Sohail Inayatullah and discussed further by Pero Micic. Yet both limited the options just to five lenses. The following list utilizes these five at the beginning but adds four at the end to get a more comprehensive list of nine alternative logics. This broader list is called Assessment through futures mindsets (ATF-lenses) which is used e.g. in Futures Platform

Lens 1: 

We need progress, growth and more technology. Belief in rationality and man in the centre of the world. The growth of economy and investment in research solve all our problems and make the world better day by day.

Lens 2:

We need to go back to the good old days. We are past our prime; we need to return to simpler times, when hierarchy was clearer, when technology was less disruptive, when the Empire was clear. Change is too overwhelming; we have lost our way, and must return. 

Lens 3:

We need to stop. We cannot continue like this or there is a collapse ahead. Man has reached his limits, indeed he has overshot them: world inequity, fundamentalism, tribalism, nuclear holocaust, climate disasters all point to a worsening of the future. We do not need to go back to the past as it was not as glorious as the present time, but given the current pace we are heading towards a collapse of everything that is dear to us.

Lens 4:

We need to break barriers and get more understanding of differences. We need to focus on ways to come closer as economies and as cultures. Borders need to break down; technology and the free flow of capital can bring riches to all. All humans are the same no matter what their skin colour, sex or religion. Traditionalisms and dogmas are the barriers stopping us from achieving a new world.    

Lens 5:

We need to save nature and it will save us. The world is a garden, cultures are its flowers, we need social technologies to repair the damage we have caused to ourselves, to nature and to others. Becoming more and more inclusive is what is important to mankind. We should stop using natural resources and find sustainable ways of living. Gaia - partnership between women and men, humans and nature and humans and technology is needed. This is challenging the very notion of ‘‘man’’.    

Lens 6:

We need a strong enlightened dictator to lead the way for the better. Ordinary people are merely sheep without vision. They should not be asked what to do. We need a strong leader who can make things to happen and who has visions for a better future.

Lens 7:

We need to accept that the future is deterministic and there is nothing we can really do. All that was and is going to be is written to a “big book” and it can be read from the stars. Almost everything is fixed and decided and we can only follow the big plan.

Lens 8: 

We need to accept that the future is steered by masses and big trends. Individuals, small incidences and even political decisions fade under the big pressure of overall transformation. The future can be forecast from the knowledge of the big trends and the transformation logic that we see. 

Lens 9: 

We need to accept that the future is random or a chain of small incidences in the same way as the history has always been. The supposedly inevitable direction of transformation is radically converted time after time by small incidences. Being affective in right place at right time makes a larger difference than any great plans. 

Which from the list is your primary world view and therefore the lens that you use in your observations and reasoning? Do you prefer combining several lenses or is something missing from the list?

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