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A Good Futurist Needs …

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According to Jim Dator, Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, to be a good futurist (and I quote Dator in italics), you need:

•  the widest possible knowledge of the history and present condition of as many cultures and civilizations as possible; you must know more than one culture, and thus more than one language, intimately,

• the widest possible knowledge of all aspects of all the social sciences,

• the widest possible knowledge of current and emerging developments in the natural sciences, and their emerging sub disciplines and transdisciplines, for example, evolutionary systems theory, chaos theory, and brain science,

• the widest possible familiarity with developments in engineering (especially electronics and genetics), architecture, and space sciences,

• the widest possible familiarity with philosophy, ethics, morals, and religions, and certainly the ethical discourse of as many different traditions as possible,

• the widest possible familiarity with law and planning,

• an active awareness of esthetics and the esthetic element in all aspects of life; a continuing experience of esthetic expression in some, or preferably many, modes,

• creativity, imagination, the willingness to think new thoughts, to make unmade connections, to be ridiculed, laughed at, and to laugh at yourself,

• the ability to synthesize, combine, invent, create,

• the willingness to be politically active, to test out new ideas on yourself first and while trying actually to create a better world, or some portion of it,

• the ability to try to anticipate the consequences of actions before you act, but also the willingness to risk failure and to learn from mistakes and criticism–indeed to seek out and provoke criticism–but to keep trying to do better, and constantly to relearn what ‘better’ might be,

• insatiable curiosity, unbounded compassion, incurable optimism, and an unquenchable sense of humor and delight in the absurd.

It’s an engaging (and daunting) list of interdisciplinary knowledge and open mindsets to master and develop, but I would also argue that these requirements are not just for the obscure profession of future studies. Today, as technology and globalization compress time and space, we all need to be doing at least some of this stuff. We all need to be futurists.

The future is happening now. And now. And now.

So build a tough reading list and start reading. Make connections across disciplines and cultures. Dream up an idea and prototype it. Test your assumptions. Let your curiosity run away with you.

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh a little.


Author: Eric Kingsbury

Technology Futurism Creative Marketing Strategy Art Music Writing Thinking Ideas

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