Saturday, August 25, 2012

PATTERNING THE FUTURE

Speculative fiction writer William Gibson, in his novel Pattern Recognition, wrote :
“We have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which 'now' was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents' have insufficient 'now' to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. ... We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment's scenarios. Pattern recognition”.
Pattern recognition is something astrologers use, too, when attempting to predict the future. Future configurations of the planets, similar to configurations which have occurred years, decades or centuries before, small patterns and huge ones, are basic ingredients of astrological prediction.

We humans have inbuilt patterns: habits, species-wide; one of them is a fascination with the future, yearning to know what it might hold for us.

In 1987 a then sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard, better known now for his Scientology thing, threw down a challenge to other sci-fi authors and some scientists to write letters to the people of 2012, setting out ideas and predictions of how life in that future world might be. 2012 then lay 25 years ahead. Their now 25-year-old thoughts are interesting, some were off mark, some, whose authors more clearly understood pattern recognition, have proved to be reasonably accurate.

The whole article is a good read -
Time Capsule Predictions 1987.

Here are just a few lines from some of the entries:

ISAAC ASIMOV
Assuming we haven't destroyed ourselves in a nuclear war, there will be 8-10 billion of us on this planet—and widespread hunger. These troubles can be traced back to President Ronald Reagan who smiled and waved too much.

GREGORY BENFORD
Oil is running out, but shale-extracted oil is getting cheaper. The real shortage in much of the world is…water.......Most Americans are barely literate, think in images rather than symbols, and think the future is something that will happen to somebody else…just as today…......Bases on the moon, an expedition to Mars…all done. But the big news will be some problematical evidence for intelligent life elsewhere.

ALGIS BUDRYS
The most socially approved-of individuals will constitute a narrowly focused aristocracy, and will be at the mercy of dull functionaries and secretive rebels who actually perform the day-to-day maintenance of society. Social regimentation will then have become so deft that most people will regard any other social milieu as pitiable.

SHELDON GLASHOW
Japan will be the central economic power in the world, owning or controlling a significant part of European and American industries......The American economy will have experienced a gentle yet relentless decline. Our children will not live such comfortable lives as we do. The spread between the rich and the poor will have grown, and crime will have become so prevalent as to threaten the social fabric. The rich and the poor will form 2 armed camps. Most automobiles and heavy machinery will be manufactured in Japanese owned planets located in America. Yet, agriculture and higher education will be our most successful exports..........

FREDERIK POHL
All the evidence of what is going on in the world today leads to the conclusion that none of these good things are going to happen, because our country, the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world (and, I have always thought, the best) is bankrupting itself to recruit and train terrorists in Latin America, give arms to terrorists all over the world, develop and employ fleets, armies and weapons systems which have no purpose except to pound any country which disagrees with us into submission. Since, unfortunately for us, the people who disagree with us have terrorists, fleets, armies and weapons systems of their own, the most plausible future scenario is all-out nuclear war.

ORSON SCOTT CARD Americans will see the collapse of Imperial America, the Pax Americana, as having ended with our loss of national will and national selflessness in the 1970s. Worldwide economic collapse will have cost America its dominant world role; but it will not result in Russian hegemony; their economy is too dependent on the world economy to maintain an irresistible military force. A new world order will emerge from famine, disease, and social dislocation: the re-tribalization of Africa, the destruction of the illusion of Islamic unity, the struggle between aristocracy and proletariat in Latin America—without the financial support of the industrialized nations, the old order will be gone. The changes will be as great as those emerging from the fall of Rome, with new power centers emerging wherever stability and security are established. The homogeneity of Israel will probably allow it to survive; Mexico and Japan may change rulers, but they will still be strong. If America is to recover, we must stop pretending to be what we were in 1950, and reorder our values away from pursuit of privilege.

JACK WILLIAMSON If we had a time-phone, now in 1987, we would beg you to forgive us. We have burdened you with impossible debts, wasted and polluted the planet that should have been your rich heritage, left you instead a dreadful legacy of ignorance, want, and war.

What might a batch of today's writers and scientists predict for the year 2037 - 25 years from now? Included in their assessments, for sure, would be climate problems, water shortage, consequent food shortages, limits on use of electric power and oil-based fuels. Technological progress will have slowed due to already mentioned issues. The economy? Who knows?!

Using a little astrology: Pluto planet of transformation will have been transiting Aquarius, sign of the rebel, since 2025. Transformation, Pluto-style occurs only after an often painful purging of all that has outlived its usefulness. Pluto's previous transit of Capricorn would have left behind much that was in need of a good purge! At some point between now and 2037, probably soon after 2025, the population of several countries will be roused to outright rebellion against systems then in place...."the purging effect". By 2037 the worst should be over, with problems still to be faced - but with hope and fresh enthusiasm.

1 comment:

Sandy Shaw said...

Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.
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