Futurists are, in some
fundamental sense, dilettantes: they must forever graze lightly
over fields established by scholars, researchers, and writers with
more profound and focussed expertise. Perhaps a better metaphor
is that of the butterfly -- we move from flowering idea to flowering
idea, not only gathering information about change and its potentials,
but also cross-pollinating ideas.
Thus I make no claim
to specialization in oceanography, or aerospace engineering, or
astronomy, or nanotechnology, or genomics -- or any of the specific
fields from whence emerge the changes and innovations I describe.
On the other hand, I may fairly lay claim to expertise in exploring
the potential impacts of those changes, and their effects and interrelationships
with each other, society, and the environment.
The essays presented
here all describe trends and emerging issues of change, and explore
to varying degrees their potential long-term effects and impacts
on us, on our society, on our biosphere, and our universe.
Octopus' Garden 2030: this essay was written for the World
Futures Studies Federation's World Conference in Kure, Japan, in
November 2002. As will be very obvious, it draws heavily on the
research and writing completed for the "Deep Sea Exploration"
essay mentioned below. As the WFSF put no page limitations on authors,
I was able to include much more material -- historical, emergent
and critical -- allowing greater detail in elaborating impacts.
Draft: work in progress.
For the past six summers,
I have had the absolute delight to teach in the summer
residential intensive program of the MS
in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston - Clear Lake.
This program draws extraordinary people from all walks of life from
all over the world; the 2002 class exemplified this. One of its
members, Andrew Zolli, had been drafted by Que Publishing to create
a volume of collected essays about emerging issues in science, technology,
exploration, and social change. He, in turn, drafted me to write
three of those essays (for which I am in his debt). After five years
of reading and writing too much academic-speak, it was a total delight.
Here, then, are the expanded versions of my three essays for TechTV's
Catalog of Tomorrow (ed. Andrew
Zolli) -- I of course found myself completely unable to keep
to the 750-word limit.
"Writer's cut" of my essays for TechTV's Catalog of Tomorrow
(bonus material not included in the book!). Warning: these are graphic-intensive pages.
It's tough to be an academic
in the watershed era between literacy and mediacy. When you're immersed
in words and text, the segue from the verbal to the visual can be
tough. I've been trying to think of powerpoint less in terms of
an outline of ideas and concepts, and more as a vivid slide show.
The presentation on innovation and
the arts ("Emerging Change and the Arts of the Future")
which I prepared for the University of Industrial Arts, Helsinki
(UIAH: Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu) represents a conscious effort
to focus on image and idea in conveying the sources of new opportunities
for design, materials, and production in the arts.
Governance is published here as a protest against the censorship
it underwent at the hands of Dr. Tae-chang Kim of the Future Generations
Alliance, who insisted that all instances of the word "governance"
be edited out of the proceedings volume of the FGA conference on
the future of political systems. Hence it was published in that
volume as "Intimate Politics," which implies something
else entirely. This is also an expanded version of that essay, on
the future of systems of governance, using arguments, models, ideas,
and examples from modern utopian and speculative fiction.
Finally, here are some
essays -- dated 1994 -- from my days as research staff at the Hawai'i
Research Center for Futures Studies. America's
Alternative Futures -- and yes, I begin the essay with an apology
for the use of the shorthand "America" when referring
only to the United States of America -- offers an historical survey
of preferred images of the future for the United States, but also
discusses the rationale for studying images of the future in futures
research. At the time Borders of the Heart,
Passports of the Mind was written, the emerging issues of change
it discusses were still emerging; now they are hardly even trends:
more conditions of present life.