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How to think like a futurist

Transgenerational thinking

Transgenerational thinking

With this kind of thinking, you can develop and grow the way you think about problems, your role in solving them and the consequences.

For parents, for example, this can mean asking themselves, right before resorting to an easy, short-term fix like giving to the kids the phone in order to enjoy a quiet dinner, this question: “Yes I can do that, but what is it teaching them?”

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How to think like a futurist

How to think like a futurist

https://ideas.ted.com/three-ways-to-think-about-the-future/

ideas.ted.com

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Key Ideas

Transgenerational thinking

With this kind of thinking, you can develop and grow the way you think about problems, your role in solving them and the consequences.

For parents, for example, this can mean asking themselves, right before resorting to an easy, short-term fix like giving to the kids the phone in order to enjoy a quiet dinner, this question: “Yes I can do that, but what is it teaching them?”

Futures thinking

Usually when we're imagining the future, we always include in our visions about dealing with problems like poverty, climate change or cancer some techno-utopia solution (with all sorts of new technologies). And there is nothing wrong with that, but we should stop seeing the future in just this one way.

Move from Future to Futures and open yourself up to considering all kinds of possible scenarios and all kinds of solutions.

Telos thinking

Telos comes from the Greek language, and it means “ultimate aim” or “ultimate purpose.” This call for the process of asking yourself one question: “To what end?”

As we try to solve a particular problem, we also should think about what will come after we solve it.

Going beyond short-termism

We often feel like we don’t have control over the future, that it’s this thing we’re just waiting to wash over us.

But we do have control, but it requires strategic thinking and action on our part, imagining many possible futures, and thinking beyond our own lifespans.

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Think like Sherlock Holmes

“What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving a crime. It is an entire way of thinking."

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 As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.

Pitfalls of the Untrained Brain

Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
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The Influence Of Sci-Fi On Real Technology

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"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don’t know."

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Outlining types of future problems

There are different types of problems that we will face now and in the future.

We need to evaluate the degree of “alarm” with which those problems should be treated.

Known problems with known solutions

Known problems with known solutions include the following:

  • Global warming. It is partly caused by excessive emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 emissions come from energy generation and can be replaced by nuclear power.
  • Declining freshwater reserves could be tackled through greater use of desalination and recycling wastewater.

Once the gravity of these problems becomes apparent to a critical mass of humanity, solutions would be put in motion.

Known problems with solutions within reach

Known problems to which solutions are not only imaginable but (probably) within reach include:

  • Malaria: Like smallpox that was fully eradicated in 1980, it is not much of a stretch to think that Malaria will be defeated through a combination of genetic engineering, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, vaccines, and drugs.
  • Superbugs or deadly viruses: Crispr technology allows for easy alteration of DNA sequences and modifies gene function. Crispr could be used to turn bacterium or viruses machinery against itself.

These problems are bound to cause suffering until an appropriate solution is found.

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Elon Musk

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First principle vs. analog thinking
  • First principles thinking: actively questioning every assumption you think you know about a given problem or scenario  and then creating new knowledge and solutions from scratch. 
  • Reasoning by analogy: building knowledge and solving problems based on prior assumptions, beliefs and widely held ‘best practices’ approved by majority of people.
Elon Musk's 3 steps Principle Thinking
  1. Identify and define your current assumptions;
  2. Breakdown the problem into its fundamental principles;
  3. Create new solutions from scratch.

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Emotionally Healthy

Emotions can help us handle complex issues, and are an essential part of rational thinking; they are helping us envision future scenarios and this is called pragmatic prospection.

An 'emotionally healthy' mindset can be developed by the self-transcendent emotions like empathy, gratitude and wonder, which are focused on others.

Emotional Rescue

The world's problems like global warming, air and plastic pollution, and terrorism cannot be solved without empathy. A lack of empathy makes us focus on short-term goals, and our greed, ignoring the larger, more difficult problems that need to be tackled

Even if someone does have empathy, it is limited to one's inner circle, and not towards humanity in general. Our empathy needs to be towards the entire planet and its inhabitants. The current age should harness humanity's emotional side if our future generations want to remember us as 'good' ancestors.

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The frames we use to see the world

The frames we create for what we experience both inform and limit the way we think.  And most of the time we are not aware of the frames we are using.

Being able to question and shift your frame of reference is an important key to enhancing your imagination because it reveals completely different insights.

Reframing problems
It takes effort, attention, and practice to see the world around you in a brand-new light.

You can practice reframing by physically or mentally changing your point of view, by seeing the world from others’ perspectives, and by asking questions that begin with “why.”