Thursday, 11 February 2016

A Slack Future

I'm participating in a week-long online workshop on the subject of Futures, hosted by James Allen (@thejamesallen) of Creative Huddle (@creative_huddle). In the snappily-titled channel, #futureworkshop, James introduced the topic thus:

"Let’s talk about the future. We’ll find out what futurologists think is in store for us, and we’ll learn how to make our own predictions."

James had first shared the upcoming workshop of LinkedIn, advising that it was a new venture for Creative Huddle, using the Slack application as the platform for sharing content and facilitating the conversations. As I am now working with another HR & Training Consultancy who use Slack as their internal channel, I was keen to understand it's potential as a learning support tool. And as a science fiction fan, the topic of futures and futurology, combined with the opportunity to experience slack, was irresistable. So I signed up.

There are 10 of us involved in the Workshop. We're on Day 3 now, and for today's 'Task', James asked us to "list different types of futures that could occur. As with the previous task, write your thoughts in a post, expanding on each of the following headings:
  • The future is what I expect.
  • The future is better than I expect.
  • The future is worse than I expect.
  • The future is weirder than I expect.
And let’s try and define ‘the future’ for this particular task: at least ten years from now."
So, here's what I contributed today, and I await the peer review from my co-participants accordingly. If you'd also like to comment here, please feel free. Thanks.

Task 2: My Futures
I have always been a big fan of science fiction - both written and on film & broadcast media. I read Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke in my early teens and was transported into what I have always considered plausible future and/or alternate realities, the verisimiltude of which relied on solid and consistent underpinning - if completely new - 'science'. I am old enough to remember watching the first ever episode of Dr Who (scared me rigid) and following Star Trek from the beginning. I am not, however, and never have been, a fan of Fantasy/Magical fiction as a result. Give me a Dalek over Bilbo Baggins any day.
I continue to read sci-fi regularly. It's my go-to literature when I'm between other reading, be it fact or fiction. I tend to read for pleasure, less for learning, but that's just my preference. So, with a nod to my Sci_fi reading...
  • The future is what I expect.
    • Global warming will raise sea levels faster than we have readied ourselves for and our weather patterns will continue to oscillate between extremes, whilst populations start to migrate inland and onto higher ground.
    • Our transport infrastructure will collapse under the weight of increased need and utilisation, both public and private. Grid-lock ensues. This will lead to...

  • The future is better than I expect.
    • Telecommuting finally becomes the norm as we all become short-term contractors
    • The South of England will become the new Champagne Region.
    • There will be a radical reassessment and readjustment of Elderly and end-of-life care, with a recognition of the need for a holistic, as opposed to a medical, approach, resulting in a huge investment in and provision of hospice care.

  • The future is worse than I expect.
    • Donald Trump gains the Republican nomination and wins the US Presidency.
    • Fear of - or actual - terrorist outrage/s will lead to an enforced surveillance and control structure to society, where guilt is assumed before innocence is proven. Society will accept this and live accordngly.
    • Sex will become a recreational and solo/virtual activity with tech surrogates representing the other partner/s (this may have already happened). Marriage will become the exception and be contractually time-limited & short-lived, probably only for procreation. The resulting progeny will be raised by robots.

  • The future is weirder than I expect
    • SETI makes contact with intelligent extraterrestial life and life as we understand it changes for ever.
    • AND/OR...
    • Global climate change forces the human race underground or underwater and we abandon the surface
    • OR...
    • Our alien 'friends' provide us with the technology and/or means to migrate off-planet and into the Universe.
Along the way, I am also learning a great deal about the features, benefits, limitations and potential of Slack. It's a win/win, as far as I'm concerned. I believe that James and the Creative Huddle team will be running further workshops like this, so I'd recommend getting in touch if you think it might be of interest to you or your colleagues.