'A' Future - Not 'The' Future

Confusing language leads you down a dangerous path

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I was a teenager when I had an idea that connected what we now call 'The Multiverse' to our Universe. I have no idea if I had read something that inspired me or if I was just ripping off some poor solipsist that I have long forgotten that I’d read or heard about. Maybe I had just read The Diceman? Whatever it was, the idea came. The idea stuck.

The Idea
Nothing outside me exists. Everything is in my mind. Everything. I have a total picture of history before me and no vision of the future. At any given moment something might happen, or a decision is made and at that moment in time the universe 'forks'. Both outcomes come to exist in the multiverse, although 'I' only experience the outcome that affects me. It happens all the time. The phone rings, or it doesn't. I answer it, or I don't. Whichever the fork I experience, 'another me' experiences the other choice or outcome. This then is how the multiverse comes to be, made up of every choice, decision, change that I make in one giant decision tree.

In this model, I can create a path all the way back to my own personal 'big bang', but only hypothesize future outcomes based on different choices or different things happening. BUT … once I ‘hit commit’, there is no way to jump back. And there is no way to jump across to an alternative reality - say when I picked up the phone as opposed to letting it ring.

The reality of that model is not really different from the life we all live and experience. We can freely move around our 3 dimensions at different speeds, but in the ‘dimension of time’, we can only move in a single direction, at a single speed. We might wish … ‘what if’ … but it’s done. There is no going back. We can only theorize what might have been different had we made a different decision.

This has all come top of mind as I have been thinking about futures, new normals, starting again, rebuilding, what happens next. In short, what does our collective future look like post this ‘red pill - blue pill’ moment?

I don’t know. More importantly, nobody knows.

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In January 2020, not a single CEO, government leader, politician or consultant let alone futurist, futurologist, sociologist, FoW expert, forecaster, strategy planner or pollster ... wrote or talked about what we should do 6 months later when the world was in the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu, suffering the deepest financial depression in nearly a hundred years with a global #BLM movement provoking civil unrest that threatens the global power structure that has been in place for centuries.

‘Expect the unexpected’ says the social media meme. When it happened. We froze.

Do we not learn? Why are we looking to the same people that were ‘managing’ the old normal and who failed to warn us of what was about to occur, to show us the way to our ‘new normal’? I use ‘our’ advisedly. The new normal is not theirs, it is yours. You get to decide what it is.

For example, answering the recurring question ‘What is The Future of Work’ is not only wrong thinking, it also assumes that there is one future that we are heading towards. We are not. Anyone can guess, suggest, provide alternatives but they cannot answer what ‘The Future of Work’ is because we know that

  • we have no idea what ‘the future’ is - it will be one of many possible futures

  • we can’t travel to the future and come back to report

  • every single person will experience that future in a different way

  • anyone who says they can see the future clearly is - clearly - ‘full of it’

So whatever the future has in store for us, it is not set in stone. The key is not to plan for some single future, but rather to plan for multiple futures.

Next week I will take this a step further when I explore what ‘they’ say are the skills you need to survive in the future and which ‘jobs’ are the safe jobs. Needless to say, I already disagree. But you knew that. Didn’t you?

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