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Victor V. Motti joins Lifeboat Foundation Advisory Board

The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI, as we move towards the Singularity.
Lifeboat Foundation is pursuing a variety of options, including helping to accelerate the development of technologies to defend humanity such as new methods to combat viruses, effective nanotechnological defensive strategies, and even self-sustaining space colonies in case the other defensive strategies fail.
We believe that, in some situations, it might be feasible to relinquish technological capacity in the public interest (for example, we are against the U.S. government posting the recipe for the 1918 flu virus on the internet). We have some of the best minds on the planet working on programs to enable our survival. We invite you to join our cause!

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Clarification on Futures Studies: A Mega Discipline

Futures Studies as a holistic mega discipline is vastly more pluralistic and diversified than outsiders might assume.

This means that Futures Studies could not be framed simply as equivalent to sustainable development and objections to resource extraction or putting constraints on the preferred futures of the next generations.

Similar to this are instances in which futurists are thought to be identical to technophiles and start-up mentors. Futures Studies are not only about singularity, AI, or Transhumanism.

There are many branches and camps within Futures Studies, about which an overview is given here.

What I believe to be a common and shared characteristics among them all could be the motto inscribed in the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) logo: Long Term, Big Picture, Radical Change. And, of course, these three are themselves also open to wide interpretation. 

I'm more interested in thinking of camps under the big family umbrella of Futures Studies and the widely different interpretations of big time, big space and big change, using Wittgenstein's notion of Family Resemblance.

That is, Futurists, at least those who are members of the WFSF, are only supposed to be 'connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all of them.'

Dead Civilizations and Science Fiction

Visiting archaeological sites often serves as a good reminder of the importance of history to understand the future. 

It is indeed very helpful to imagine distant futures when you are at such places where there are remains of dead civilizations. 

"Social" Science Fiction also provides a great resource to nurture our imagination to connect past, present and future. I like to refer you to the recent book by the fellow board member of the WFSF, Dr. Thomas Lombardo, Science Fiction - The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future: Prometheus to the Martians (Volume 1)

He, in particular, reviews a novel titled "The Last American" in which future Persian archaeologists will discover the ruins of the USA (or Mehrika) in the year 2951 and observe that how lust for money and climate change doomed such a civilization. 

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Future Imaginary from a Female Standpoint

My wife, Maryam Yousefianrizi, is a reader of the feminist literature and those research works related to the gender issues. She has done her master degree on Sandra Harding and the standpoint theory:

We had a discussion earlier this month about the WFSF magazine. 

Her impression is that the future imaginary from a female standpoint could be different, more realistic, peace oriented, and deeply problematic than what males or generation Z boys (as opposed to girls) tend to trivially envision in a world full of technological innovation, super smart machines, engineering achievement, cutting edge robots, and advanced gadgets. 

She says that there are social "science fiction" like the book THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood which are worthwhile to be reviewed again now by professional futurists in a leading organization such as the WFSF,  some decades after their publication. 

So a section of the Human Futures Magazine could cover, for instance, future imaginary from the standpoint of females, or even better, "future in the past: a revisit of the literature of fiction and nonfiction on a or related to a humane world"  

 Although the story by Artwood might not be a good and relevant description of today West, enlightened people who were born and raised and live in the Middle East region, an area under the influence of reactionary ideals, in particular related to women rights and obligations, tend to find and to perceive such Western fiction works not entirely and purely fiction but a real part of the daily life and experience in the present let alone the unchanged future. 

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The Mystery of Time
A Revolutionary Philosopher

We could trace back a revolution of human consciousness with respect to time, back to Zoroaster, an early philosopher and religion builder. He stood against his nomad people and led them into agriculture and settled civilization. 

He, in particular, challenged the then prevailing circular time in favor of a more linear and progressive time. His original saying in the book of Gathas depicts those who are against settlement and civilization, and prefer a nomadic life as liars, cheaters, and destroyers, whereas people who favor a progressive time conception as righteous, who build upon the past, improve the Earth, and move forward, they are followers of truth and the laws of nature, i.e. cosmos and earth, etc. 

If interested in Persian theology-mythology of time conception I'd suggest that you take a look at Zurvanism and a now vanished cult devoted to revere the infinite deity of time (and space). Some ideas also touched upon in this excerpt from my book under the title of Big Space, Big Time, and Integral Complexity:

 What is more interesting is the distinction between shared, objective, and common time as opposed to the extended present, a sort of unlimited non-modern time conception which is also essential in the wayfarer's transformation journey towards higher level of consciousness and wisdom. 

These people, potentially next generations of effective leaders, are not submissive to the shared, modern, exoteric, and common time and instead pull the humanity up by their individual and independent drive to a better good time based on their own esoteric conception of reality. 

The extended present is not only related to psychology but also cosmology. If for example you consider Earth axial procession then you can even make a mystical or mysterious sense of the Present as the living conditions in the current astrological age, which is related to a very important conception of time and its impact in the pre-modern era. 

There will be some productive and creative tension if we consider binary opposition such as pre-modern vs. modern time or esoteric vs. exotreic time. The latter one could imply that an enlightened individual might be able to fundamentally change our common collective future. 

The Identity Challenge of Futurists

There are two key aspects of the debate about the identity challenge among futurists. One is the categorization among related "scientific" or academic disciplines and another about a nice job title that you could use in your CV or business card. 

On the first issue I am sure that the most general term could be Futures Studies because after all we have the World "Futures Studies" Federation. 

Such studies have not appeared from nowhere and there are traditional and better known fields that might serve sometimes as a replacement if your audience is not comfortable with the term futures studies and the similar. 

Among those more traditional you can for example name intelligence or strategic intelligence which have some significant overlap with futures studies. In particular, you can observe the rising demand for Business Intelligence (BI) or Technology Intelligence (TI) Professions. Some ideas have been explored here in a chapter of the Handbook of Anticipation.

Another more academically inclined tradition is that of anthropology which after a transformation to forward looking attitude can be called "anticipatory anthropology" that could well convey the key message of the Long Term, Big Picture and Radical Change.

I personally would prefer anticipatory anthropology to futurology because "ology" implies that someone is knowledgeable and is an expert in a collection of facts on a specific topic as in cosmology, geology, psychology, sociology, etc. And facts about the future are hard to establish if not impossible at all. 

But on the second issue of a recognized job title the issue is not academic or professional recognition among peers but how governments treat you in their statistical databases. For instance, US Bureau of Statistics, and I would dare to say other countries too, do not have an entry for a Futurist. As a matter of fact you will not be counted in the statistics. Although there are discussions about such a job title under You Are a What?

My recommendation is that you could use some simple titles like analyst, researcher, consultant, designer, author, speaker, expert, etc with additional qualifiers to indicate your focus on the futures, policy, innovation, technology, big picture, etc and paying attention to linguistic and cultural connotations in your specific environment/context. 

Another approach might be to look at the profile of people in social media and see which descriptions might serve your purpose, for example, thought leader, idea generator, trend spotter, creativity facilitator, visionary thinker, digital transformation guru etc. 

Features: A Video Message for a New Center of Futures Studies
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Best Regards
Victor V. Motti
Skype ID: victorvmotti

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