BLIND SPOT: HOLES IN OUR FUTURE

  • ABSTRACT

  • Has anyone attempted an even rough sketch scenario for the rest of the 21st century? With almost everyone believing humans will be around in 2100, what might have been our history? This absence I call a Blind Spot: a Hole in Our Future.
  • I bring this up because I have been working on one possible scenario since 1975 and for over three decades have yet to find one person to look IN THE DIRECTION of my scenario.  It is as if scenarios of this scope are invisible. Different persons may get excited about some of my ideas and encourage me, but it as if the direction I am pointing doesn’t exist for them. A blind spot.
  • I thought it was because my scenario is too radical and automatically viewed as impossible.  Yet, there appear no other speculative scenarios of any sort.  My scenario outlines how persons will learn/organize in a movement that will literally grow exponentially in numbers and be super organized with everyone uplifting their competencies. This is not a vague vision, but I can generatively provide stage by stage development until this global organization is prepared to challenge the hegemony of our Societal Caterpillar we call Civilization.  That transition models insect metamorphosis where the Societal Butterfly (nu Humanity) emerges to replace the decaying Societal Caterpillar.  Although there can be many variations on this basic metamorphic scenario I can sketch a few as coherent stories – should anyone be interested.  I keep at this because I truly believe that this direction is the only way to ensure the multi-millennial survival/thrival of Humanity/Gaia.
  • I challenge others to discuss the “endgame” with me.  Most persons concerned about our Crisis-of-Crises are working on creating new human systems with new technologies that will eventually engage and transform global corporatism.  This should be the epic of all adventures, yet it falls right in the center of the blind spot.   I have written and made available online one possible scenario about when a new, well organized movement is able to de-couple the financial economy from the productive economy. No one who had read my scenario, “This Great Day”, has comment on it – in any way.  It falls in the blind spot.  No one whose long term goal is a significant transformation (morphing) of our dysfunctional societal systems seem able to even begin imagining how this might happen – what I call the “endgame”.
  • The entertainment media does provide us with scenes from collapse scenarios, but there are as yet no coherent scenarios for the collapse of global capitalism.  Again, there are many possible scenarios – and probably no market for such stories.
  • I attempt to argue that when & if we are successful in our work today so that it will have an impact tomorrow, might we consider some other things that would be useful to have tomorrow, but won’t be available unless we start making them today.  This is basic futures planning. Yet, even this falls into the blind spot.  Exploring for important ideas that may be missing, because we aren’t looking (we are so busy doing what we are doing), may be viewed as looking for blind spots – is itself in the blind spot.  My many posts calling for such exploration are totally ignored.
  • There are many bright, creative, concerned, competent activists, continuing learners with whom I dialog.  We have interesting exchanges, and many of my component ideas are valued and it is acknowledged that I have insights.  Yet, none of these good persons has acknowledged the blind spot.  I have NEVER been asked to discuss Big Challenge Scenarios.
  • What follows are some words composed earlier in an attempt to call attention to this BLIND SPOT – at the time I discovered that it might be comprehended as a blind spot.   I don’t know whether this intro/abstract will make any difference.  If not, I will try something else.

Larry/nuet 3/31/2013 10:23 PM

 

{first draft 3/7/2013; included in Publishing Our Future, also posted in this blog.}

Most people have a very sketchy and incoherent map of potential future events and processes. What ideas they do have they gained from information sources and except for special circumstances they don’t discuss futures that don’t directly involve themselves.

  •     Some may have read about the fate of our sun, our galactic collision with Andromeda, and the varying “end” of the expanding (or contracting) universe. Climate change and consequences of natural disasters (including asteroid collisions and volcanic eruptions) may interest a few. Wars and droughts, economic swings and how their critical environments are changing are topics of discussion for some. But for the vast majority, they are either totally oblivious of these futures speculations or treat them as irrelevant trivia.
  •     The future of peoples and systems unknown would not be of concern.  A few simplistic theories may exist for the few future events and processes a person may have heard or read. Most people will have views of the future coorelated with the media they attend to.
  •     The future of concern to most involves the lives of themselves and those they know – and phenomena that may directly effect them. To the extent of their knowledge of history they may project past trends into the future.
  •     For most, the future of their community or nation would be a mystery and the future of humankind and Gaia beyond imagining.  The exception being those with religious or spiritual visions

These people and their limited views of futures are not the topic of this essay. They may be “blind” to most of the future, but it isn’t a “blind spot”: a hole in the conception of the future by those most expert in thinking and writing about futures.

I will not attempt to catalog here all the topics about the future that are discussed by those most knowledgeable – it is very extensive and both exciting & disturbing.  Even the most dedicated “futurist” will have many domains of ignorance about future topics (where they know OF some of the literature and projects but are not well versed on details). Given the rapid growth of our knowledge and know-how, individual “futurists” can be aware of only a small part of future projections.  Yet, many tend to believe that their future domain is the most important and will be the “driver” for what will be.

  •     Political and economic futures are in the news, and felt by those who don’t attend to the news.  By “news” I include lengthy reports and treatises about past, current, and forecast happenings.  The other dominant theme are technological inventions, their applications, and exciting forecasts of futures where everyone is using the new technologies – with both negative (drones and surveillance) and positive (green, healthy, and creative) outcomes. How these piecemeal happenings might interact is beyond imagining.

Our blind spot, our hole in our future is “the WHOLE future”.  We have lost sight of the forest for the trees. Our obsession with parts seems to have rendered even the imagination of “whole” impossible.

  •     I don’t mean knowing each and every detail.  A comprehensive catalog of all trees doesn’t tell us about a forest.
  •     One might say we lack the Big Picture – but it may be that the metaphor of “picture” is part of our difficulty.
  •     Some will find an excuse in the overwhelming complexity “of it all” and claim it a futile waste of time and effort.
  •     These, and others, are factors of – but not causes for the blind spot.  It is the purpose of this essay to initiate an exploratory expedition into The Blind Spot.  It is not my objective to attempt to define or describe The Blind Spot or “the WHOLE future”.  However, I believe it is critical that a critical sub-population of humans undertake this learning expedition with appropriate commitment and energy.

APOLLO PROGRAM ANALOGY
The learning expedition called the Apollo Program to put humans on the moon and return the safely to Earth can be used as an analogy for some aspects of what we face on our expedition into The Blind Spot of the Future of Earth.

When the Apollo program was announced only the Russians had placed an object in orbit.  We didn’t immediately start launching rockets to the moon in hope that one would get there.  We started to learn/research (isn’t it interesting that we usually think learning occurs when one reads about the research and that the research is not, itself, a learning process).  The early focus was on propulsion; but we didn’t wait for years until we had the power to reach the moon to begin designing how we would navigate there, land and take off, and return and safely land on Earth.  And, to research how humans would survive the trip.  And, what other things would we humans learn from executing the program – and what spin-offs might accrue?

From the very beginning “the WHOLE project” was the focus – the forest and the trees.

  •         This included the politics and economics, and the international relationships involved.  A major push in science and math education in the USA was part of the effort (and was cut back once we got to the moon). Beating the Russians to the moon may have been more important for many than actually getting to the moon.
  •         The Apollo Program gave rise to great improvements in SYSTEMS thinking and processing. Some sub-projects were off limits to political and economic influence. Sub-project interfaces were managed and it wasn’t essential that those working within a subproject knew anything about what was happening in other subprojects – only that they each had interface requirements to meet. For example, the propulsion team had to limit acceleration to that which would not harm astronauts.
  •         But, there were teams that attended to the whole project – and the design of later stages depended on results from earlier stages. There was a concrete objective, land men on the moon and return them to Earth, but the project was not a deterministic program – it was a learning process.

I’m not aware of many of the details and am not sure a depth study of the whole Apollo Program would be instructive to us, today – or to study other similar programs in humankind’s history.  But, it might be useful to use this rough sketch in analogy for a Learning Expedition to “launch & land” humankind in a “safe” condition on Gaia (in a time frame determined by the rate of destruction to Gaia, including but not limited to Climate Change causes).

This task lies at the center of our Blind Spot.

Blind Spot  vs  Grand Challenge

I will call the task I cited above our “Grand Challenge”.  I deeply believe that our success with our Grand Challenge will be dependent on our adequately comprehending the nature of our Blind Spot.  Unless we comprehend why we have been avoiding our Grand Challenge, what we select to do may avoid doing things that may remain in our Blind Spot, but essential for doing.

The Blind Spot represents somethings essential (to success) missing in our comprehension about REALITY.  Our task is not just to design a program for changing “the world” as we know it into something better – and to fill the Blind Spot with that design. The Blind Spot is telling us that “the world” ISN’T WHAT WE THINK IT IS, NOR ARE WE WHO WE THINK WE ARE.

Blind Spots in Reality

  •     This essay is not the place to go into detail, although I am very tempted to do so.  At least provide a few illustrations or examples. However, specific examples often lock in a bias (paradigm) unless many, alternative examples are given at the same time.
  •     Not only are there holes in our conceptions about futures, there may be holes (blind spots) in our other ideas about reality.  I am not speaking of areas and topics we don’t  know enough about, or may even have inaccurate or misleading information.  Blind spots are missing directions for looking; they are domains where even imagination is lacking.
  •     One learning exercise is to identify memes we are familiar with today and explore times in the past when those memes were missing.  We can do the same today with new memes that only a few humans are aware of.  Then, explore how we all are unaware of essential memes – not because we don’t “see” them, but because the direction to look to see them is not a direction we have learned to look. We may even argue that such directions can’t exist.

Grand Process

  •     Designing projects for our Grand Challenge, with an open mind to Blind Spots, can be a Grand Process where humankind births humanity and we transcend our embryonic larvae era of civilization to emerge as a butterfly of humanity.  Our nu reality will be as different as the reality of a flying butterfly is from a crawling caterpillar.
  •     Think on the Blind Spots of Reality for the Caterpillar – and the human conditioned to civilization.
  •     You can’t see the blind spot in our future, that I refer to. You are not alone.  I, the author of this essay can’t see the blind spot either. But I see evidence for its existence – just as visual perception researchers study our visual blind spot even when having one themselves.
  •     The purpose of this essay is to alert you to the Blind Spot in our future and interest you in possibly joining a learning expedition to explore this Blind Spot and free us to work on our Grand Challenge.

 

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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