Forecasting, Eucatastrophe and Wicked Problems

Sci Fi author Karl Schroeder has been guest blogging on Charlie Stross’ blog about forecasting the future, which of course is total must-read material for me. He had me just by saying that he has a Master’s degree in Strategic Forecasting and Innovation. This caused a spate of actual academic envy in me, a very rare phenomenon in this universe, I can assure you.

For those who think the future is a completely unknowable thing, or who have the inkling of a hope that maybe we can somehow prepare for or anticipate the future, this is also must-read. Money quote:

We seem to do everything about our future except try to design it. It’s a funny thing: nobody ever questions your credentials if you predict doom and destruction. But provide a rosy picture of the future, and people demand that you justify yourself. Increasingly, though, I believe that while warning people of dire possibilities is responsible, providing them with something to aspire to is even more important. The foresight programme has given me a lot of tools to do that in a justifiable way, so I might as well use them.

So say we all. Unless some evil people also use it, right? Well, then…

He also has a great post on Eucatastrophe, which is kind of the opposite of a catastrophe, when everything goes right. Wouldn’t it be fun to pull that off by forecasting the future? And if you really want your brain to hurt in the other direction, he discusses ‘wicked‘ problems that we as a human race seem to be utterly failing to solve for pretty mundane reasons.

I should say something intelligent about all of this, but it’s too late at night (for me) to put coherent, intelligent thoughts together. Suffice it to say that these ideas play a central role in my sci-fi thriller novel about saving the world through shaping the future by studying projections of it.


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