Beyond Futures Past
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
Clarifying Consciousness is one method for transitioning from a Prediction & Control Addicted Futurism to an Inspiring and Interdependent Co-Creation of Everday Experience in business, community, and relationship.
Predictions Without Futures
First published: 24 August 2022
From Wesleyan University's Open Access Journal: ITERATIONS Historical Futures.
Modernity held sacred the aspirational formula of the open future: a promise of human determination that doubles as an injunction to control. When history extends into the unknown, “it becomes plannable—it must be planned.” Today, the banner of this plannable future is borne by technology. Allegedly impersonal, neutral, and exempt from disillusionment with ideology, belief in technological change saturates the present horizon of “historical futures.” Yet this is exactly how today's technofutures enact a hegemony of closure and sameness. In particular, the growing emphasis on prediction as AI's skeleton key to all social problems produces what religious studies calls cosmograms: universalizing models that govern how facts and values relate to each other, providing “central points of reference that enable people to bring themselves into agreement.” Technofutures operate as a modality of what this Iterations series calls “historical futures,” and specifically a modality that entrenches the longstanding fantasy in which social problems are made conceivable only as objects of calculative control. Such control can never be fulfilled, but it persists as an eternally deferred and recycled horizon. I show how this technofuture is maintained not by producing literally accurate predictions of future events but through ritualized demonstrations of predictive time. The glorious transition from past to future is reenacted again and again in these rituals, reaffirming the arrow of history. Yet when the ceremony ends and the incense clears, we find that the promised future remains much the same as before.