Aug 25, 2013

Moving Beyond Ubiquitous Sheepishness

Posted by in category: futurism

My last twenty-five years as a futurist have conditioned me to search for weak signals of what may be emerging in all areas of society that will impact our Communities of the Future work seeding transformational ideas and methods in local communities to help leaders and citizens prepare themselves for a future that will be increasingly fast paced, interdependent and complex. I always look for some gem of a new idea that is hidden in the context of an article, novel or web journal that causes me to go hmmm? and think about how this new idea connects with our COTF approach to community transformation.

Recently I have read Zoltan Istvan’s novel, The Transhumanist Wager, and found myself often stopping and going hmmm? Although an oversimplification (with apologies to Zoltan), the central theme of the novel is the coming existential crash of science and radical technologies and religion at some point after my life that now registers 71 years on the ageometer.

Although I could present my thoughts about whether humanity should attempt god-like actions to evolve life extending discoveries leading to downloading consciousness into machines to live forever, I would not be objective…feeling the increasing need of a long rest from overactivity during 71 years (-:

There are so many “access” points in Zoltan’s book for thought provoking ideas, that I found myself moving from thinking about the impact of emerging radical technologies on our society and communities to wondering how society was going to be able to develop the resiliency required to be able to adapt to whatever emerges.…whether the mysteries of religion and our existence become encased within a deeper understanding of quantum theory as time moves exponentially, or whether we reach the point of singularity and beyond and become transhuman.

Although many such ideas emerge from the pages of The Transhumanist Wager, there was a gem of a phrase two-thirds into the novel that jumped out at me because of our COTF work helping local areas prepare for a very different kind of future. It was the phrase “ubiquitous sheepishness” applied to leaders in all aspects of our society.

My own experience over the last thirty years changed the filter with which I now consider the phrase “ubiquitous sheepishness.” As I have had my own journey of thinking differently about the future, and connected it to observations of many local leaders with whom I have consulted who are stamped with the barriers of history and tradition, I have come to realize, in my opinion, that we live in a time that demands our ability to move beyond the natural inclinations of conservatism and being risk adverse as an asset.

Whatever the future holds, I have become convinced that we must connect at a deeper level of collaborative intellect, reconceptualize our institutions to be aligned with a time of constant change, and learn to risk ourselves for the good of our grandchildren so that they will have the right to make the decision whether to become transhumanists or live a life of other means conducive to the survival of our humanity, in whatever form our natural ecology and our imagination may lift us beyond the limits of perceived reality.

Whatever is in store for future generations, we are faced with challenges that defy understanding from a traditional perspective and understanding. Paraphrasing Einstein, “the problems of today cannot be resolved at the level of thinking at the time they were created.”

Zoltan brings many thought provoking questions to the surface of our thinking. In my opinion, none is more important than “moving beyond ubiquitous sheepishness” and finding the courage and spiritual commitment to connect with each other and utilize our diversity to confront emerging challenges head-on with keen intellect, deep collaboration, and the capacity to care for ourselves and others as if one was the same.…our interdependency is leading us to the threshold of a higher level of consciousness, requiring us to cast off our perceived truths, our ubiquitous sheepishness and jump into this new abyss together.

My future thoughts will be built around this need to move beyond being risk adverse and creating interlocking networks of diverse people and organizations to build “capacities for transformation” in today’s world that will allow our grandchildren the capacity to adapt to whatever reality emerges.


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  1. Schnaufer says:

    Rick, Now that you are in your 70’s, you are just beginning to have your best ideas. Previously you have excelled in bringing others together to set future goals. Now, the world needs to hear much more from you, the Futurist. (Btw:
    I don’t believe “resiliency” is what we need. We need “structural adaptivity,” city and regional structural elements and form, with capacity to adapt to change and to continue to change rather than bouncing back to previous form, as resiliency implies.)

  2. Thank you Rick Smyre for mentioning my novel The Transhumanist Wager in your excellent article!