Chapter 12. Visions and Challenges – Priorities for Professionals

Scriptural Futurist

This brings us to Scriptural futurism, by far the largest of the problematic types, and one of the most controversial in some cultures, so we address it last.  Scripture in the major world’s religions is a fusion of ancient forms of evidence, argument, belief, ideological dogmatism, and finally, utopianism, with the utopia always tucked away in another, unobservable place and time.

Belief in a higher power, in God, belief that human beings can be made better, and saved from themselves, and belief that there are better and worse ways of thinking and living, has done a lot of good in the world. Much evil has been done too. Scriptures can be considered our first science, and I would argue that on balance, they have generally been a major net good force in the world. But the problem with all scriptures is they don’t change much over time, even as the world changes.

Belief in any one religion’s scriptural literalism, inerrancy and infallibility is one of the most obvious mistakes of belief that must be recognized. Unlike religious institutions and communities, religious scripture itself very rarely is reformed. It becomes increasingly unaware of universal truths as science unveils them. Therefore, addressing inadequacies of scripture and scripture-driven behavior within all our religious communities as we perceive them, without attacking the communities themselves, seems very useful and convergent foresight work. By such criticism we can help our religious communities reform, and avoid the dangers of being a scriptural futurist.

Faith has always been our bedrock in all domains where good theory and evidence have yet to tread. But as science continues its accelerating advance, faith-based domains grow more specialized with every generation. Since the Enlightenment, humanity knows enough about the world that most of our intuition can now come primarily from reason and evidence, and only secondarily from faith. For most of humanity’s two million year history, prior to complex language, we can assume a practical, experience-based way of thinking, and personal faiths, were the dominant view of the world. We must have had a variety of personal spiritual faiths, but without complex language, we did not have the tools to enforce our spiritual beliefs on others.

But as our languages expanded and formalized, and we moved from tribes to civilizations, our stories of how the world works got ever more competitive and elaborate. It became increasingly important for us to formalize our faith in things unseen, just as we were formalizing our evidence for things we could directly observe. Competitions for dominance in our faiths led to a few versions of our faith stories becoming the single accepted truth in our social groups. Recall our discussion of social dominance, a proposed sixth basic personality trait, in Chapter 2. These stories, told orally and later in writing, eventually became our scriptures, our sacred texts.

Scripture-based faith reached its pinnacle of sophistication between one to three millennia ago around the world, when many of our major religions emerged and fused with state power in empires and monarchies. Many then began a series of warlike crusades and purifying inquisitions which are still being felt around the world today.

In many ways, the newly complex, expertly-produced, and carefully edited and re-edited religious scriptures of these faiths were our first “science”. Religious writings seem likely to appear on all planets with thinking beings, long before science itself can emerge. The best of these texts, carefully edited by religious elders, soon become great collections of wisdom and proverbs, offering concrete solutions to many of the greatest metaphysical questions.

But no matter how many good ideas are collected by the early builders of scriptures, they become increasingly outmoded if they are not continually edited and updated, in the way that science is updated. Without constant editing and evidence-testing of our religious texts, what begins as a general search for spiritual insight and useful faiths about the future and our place in the world inevitably becomes a rigid set of “truths” we accept without criticism, and whose certainty encourages us to exclude others who do not share our particular world view.


Our Global Religious Beliefs Increasingly
Conform to Science and Evidence

If we are Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or practitioners of any other religion, and we are also foresight professionals, one key question we must ask ourselves is whether we believe our scriptures are the literal word of God, or the carefully edited philosophy of well-meaning people, offered in an attempt to guide us toward more divine thought and action. The answer you give to such a question will define you as either a scriptural or spiritual futurist.

It is my belief that we need more of the latter and steadily less of the former in all modern religious communities. As we know, scriptural futurists, due to their literalism, and their belief that their particular scripture is the only true word of God can often be trapped in a variety of extreme and intolerant beliefs, including beliefs in the damnation of others who do not believe as they do, and in such future events as a coming Apocalypse (Christianity), New Caliphate (Islam), or a 5,000 year Golden Age (Hinduism). In a world of accelerating technological capability, we increasingly can’t afford the dogma and intolerance of the scriptural futurist.

By believing they have the one true set of answers to faith-based questions, and the one true source for those answers, literal scriptural futurists see false certainties and narrow their world view. They stop debating the great scientific and spiritual questions that we should all humbly wrestle with our entire lives. They engage in tribalism, defining belief-based in-groups, clearly delineating who is in the “out-group.”

The tribalism that arises in any scripturally-literal approach to religion also makes us less charitable to others. A recent major study of 1,200 children globally, from Christian, Muslim, and non-religious households, run by researchers from seven universities, concluded that dogmatic religious belief has a negative effect on children’s altruism. (Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, Current Biology, 2015). This study is enlightening as it measures the effect of dogmatic belief on the individual child, before they later engage in charitable work as members of their church.

But we must also acknowledge that many religious groups have had a greater total charitable effect on the world than secular groups (excluding states), at least in the last century, and religious groups may continue to lead charitable work for the forseeable future. So the above study should not be taken as an indictment of religion as an institution, but rather of a certain type of literalist religious belief, and a focus on the belief over the community.

Fortunately, all our leading religions have also become increasingly less literal in recent centuries. The earliest documented use of the word futurist in the Oxford English Dictionary begins in 1842, referring to Christian scriptural futurists. Such individuals had a far more literal interpretation of scripture than most Christians today, and the reform of most Christian communities away from many varieties of literalism has been a major positive social development.

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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