A lot of futurologists – expert (Toffler) and much less so (Naisbitt) – tried their hand at predicting the future. They proved pretty prosperous at predicting major trends but not as lucky in delineating their specifics. This is mainly because, inevitably, each and every futurologist has to resort to crude tools such as extrapolation. The contemporary day versions of biblical prophets are considerably far better informed – and this, precisely, appears to be the difficulty. The cluttered details obstructs the outlines of the philosophically and conceptually most critical elements.
The futurologist has to divine which – of a host – of changes which take place in his times and spot ushers in a new era. Considering the fact that the speed at which human societies change has radically accelerated – the futurologist’s work has become much more compounded and much less specific.
It is better to stick to truisms, nonetheless banal. True and tried is the crucial to effective (and, consequently, beneficial) predictions. What can we rely upon which is immutable and invariant, not dependent on cultural context, technological level, or geopolitical developments?
Human nature, naturally.
The introduction of human nature into the equation which ought to yield the prediction could further complicate it. Human nature is, arguably, the most complex point in the universe. It is characteristically unpredictable and behaviourally stochastic. It is not the kind of paradigm conducive to clear-cut, unequivocal, unambiguous forecasts.
This is why it is advisable to isolate two or three axes around which human nature – or its more explicit manifestations – revolves. These organizational principles ought to possess comprehensive explanatory powers, on the a single hand – and exhibit some type of synergy, on the other hand.
I propose such a trio : Individuality, Collectivism and Time.
Individuation is the Separation principle, the human yearning for uniqueness and idiosyncrasy, for distinction and self sufficiency, for independence and self expression.
Collectivism is the human propensity to agglomerate, to stick collectively, to assemble, the herd instincts and the group behaviours.
Time is the principle which connects each. It is the bridge linking individual and society. It is an epiphenomenon of society. In other words, it arises only when men and women assemble and can compare themselves to other folks. This is not Time in the physical sense, which is discernible by way of the relative positions and physical states of physical systems. Each human – alone as he may perhaps be – is bound to notice it….