Sunday Book-Thought 108

Despite all the computer printouts, cluster diagrams, and mathematical models and matrices that futurist researchers use, our attempts to peer into tomorrow – or even to make sense of today – remain, as they must, more an art than a science.
Systematic research can teach us much, but in the end we must embrace – not dismiss – paradox and contradiction, hunch, imagination, and daring (though tentative) synthesis.
In probing the future in the pages that follow, therefore, we must do more than identify major trends. Difficult as it may be, we must resist the temptation to be seduced by straight lines. Most people – including many futurists – conceive of tomorrow as a mere extension of today, forgetting that trends, no matter how seemingly powerful, do not merely continue in a linear fashion. They reach tipping points at which they explode into new phenomena, They reverse direction. They stop and start. Because something is happening now, or has been happening for three hundred years, is no guarantee that it will continue. We shall, in the pages ahead, watch for precisely those contradictions, conflicts, turnabouts, and breakpoints that make the future a continuing surprise.
More important, we will search out the hidden connections among events that on the surface seem unrelated. It does little good to forecast the future of semi-conductors or energy, or the future of the family (even one’s own family), if the forecast springs from the premise that everything else will remain unchanged. For nothing will remain unchanged. The future is fluid, not frozen. It is constructed by our shifting and changing daily decisions, and each event influences all others.
Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave (London: Pan Books Ltd, 1981 [first published London: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd, 1980]), p. 141.

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