Chapter 12. Visions and Challenges – Priorities for Professionals

Elitism Bias

Elitism bias emerges when any future thinker has an inflated expectation that John Q. and Jane R. Public will identify with and sanction their particular forecasts, views, policies, or timetables for social or economic change. This bias stems from a self-belief that the forecaster’s views are particularly privileged — they are a member of the foresight “elite.” Moguls and polymaths are both often guilty of this bias, they think they operate on a higher plane, and can dictate to the public the future that will be.

The speed of social change is almost always slower than the elitist futurist thinks it’s going to be. Their views are generally different from what the average voter wants as well. When they forget that, they’re guilty of elitism bias. Elitists often thin, that the general public will just cowtow to their views, because they are so obviously “better.” In reality, people need to process change and new opportunities at their own speed. They take time to internalize it, and they always change the future options that are offered to them in the process of accommodation.

We discussed fundamentalist resurgence in Chapter 7. This invariably emerges from too-fast globalization or technological change. It goes by various names: social blowback, technological whiplash, etc. People who fail to factor that in are always overestimating the speed of various categories of STEEPS change.

Some of my good friends in the transhumanist community have regularly been guilty of this over the years. A friend on the left has been convinced we’ll see a world government in his lifetime. From where I sit, this is a naive and utopian expectation. Biological humans will never get that interconnected. We don’t want such a future. We’re too suspicious of powerful actors for it to happen that fast. We have good historical reasons to be suspicious as well.

Another friend on the left is convinced we’ll increasingly engineer away human suffering in coming generations, because “that’s what people really want.” He doesn’t accept that many people think a certain amount of suffering is intrinsic to competition, and without it, we wouldn’t progress. A friend on the right is sure that a world of technological abundance will also deliver a libertarian, self-sufficiency paradise. I believe this as another naive fantasy, stemming from elitist thinking. An upwinger friend of mine is convinced that we’ll see general artificial intelligence in the 2040s, because everyone will soon see how valuable it is, and act to accelerate it. I believe she has mild form of elitism bias. She sees how beneficial it would be, so she expects the majority of folks who have a say in these matters will as well. I think she is extrapolating her own preferences to those of our political leaders, and the voting majority. We shall see.

Elitism arises when a future-thinker has convinced themselves that they see what’s right for the world, better than anyone else, and that the larger society is increasingly going to understand and accept their views, policies, and timetables, with little pushback. In most cases, this is just a delusion.

Even artificial intelligence, the most plausible of all these stories, is going to emerge slower than most transhumanists think, because people will slow it down, not speed it up, as it starts to reach scary, near-human levels of ability. Society will act to slow it down, make it safer and more moral, and regulate its spread, long before it reaches self-sufficiency, simply because the average person doesn’t think like you or I about these issues. That’s a good thing, too. That diversity of perspective in our values and future views creates a barrier, requiring the technology to work harder, improve more, and go slower than its boosters realize before it finally jumps the hurdle into mass adoption.

Watch out for elitism bias. You may think you see a better future, and are in a better place to tell others what is coming than they are. But they almost always won’t see it that way, especially in the early years. Seeing what’s coming doesn’t make you an elite, it just makes you a pioneer, first into the new territory. As we said in Chapter 1, pioneers get arrows in their backs unless they are careful. Being too early to see what’s next is usually not a good thing.

So be humble, not an elitist, and always factor in the social resistance to even the best of your ideas that will surely arise once they are more widely understood.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice