Stories We Tell Ourselves

Humans need stories. We need stories behind us, like genesis myths and heroic sagas, and stories in f
Changeist
Stories We Tell Ourselves
By Changeist • Issue #14
Humans need stories. We need stories behind us, like genesis myths and heroic sagas, and stories in front of us, arcs of narrative that give us a sense of where we can/should/might go, depending on our action, inaction, or simply our identities. Perceptions and expectations about the future are based on the stories we tell—and tell ourselves—about it. 
Two things we are often ill-equipped to do: 1) re-assess the beliefs and assumptions on which these stories are built from time to time and 2) step back to see the larger patterns and themes in these stories. It’s far easier on the brain to either buy into narratives wholesale and outsource the reasoning to others. Ongoing political debates in the US and UK about future political trajectories are a great example of this: gaping narrative vacuums create opportunities to fill these holes with backward-looking folk tales. Likewise, exponential future development is a hope, not a guarantee. 
On a technology level, it’s far easier to succumb to dominant narratives. To the extent that fabrication and funding will allow, these fairy tales can be fulfilled for a time. Smart marketers understand this. With enough money and mindshare, you can fabricate a foregone future. With the right message, people will fall in line (see also: Moore’s Law and the Singularity). Buying into the visions as articles of faith foreclose other, perhaps more valuable, interesting, or viable pathways: different roadmaps for processor development that might yield futures of distributed computing, for example. Or understanding the development of artificial intelligence in a different way. 
The links below are about these ideas—that we might (dare I say, ‘should") understand our technological futures differently. Otherwise, we miss possibility and stand unprepared when those other possibilities (or shades of them) surface.

Action Report
I’m happy to say I’ll be joining a great line-up to speak at the upcoming NRC Moonshot event in Amsterdam on 13 April. I’ll be talking about the *possibility* the progress of artificial intelligence may hit higher up the management chain that current storylines of robots stealing workers’ jobs let on. If you are in the area, come join the debate.
Stories We Tell Ourselves
crapfutures.tumblr.com
The folks at Crap Futures have been on a roll, unpicking our cognitive and narrative models of futures. This short post—and the graphic above—squarely describes the influencing forces that shape our future dreams.
Meanwhile, that brilliant Madeline Ashby takes on our technological nightmares. Having babbled about the emergence of business horror for a couple of years now, I’m enormously pleased to see some (cold, clammy) flesh put on that skeleton. 
A good look at what we’ve missed by clinging to a singular idea of the development of computing power. A post-Moore future could be far more interesting, if we let it.
“Different” AI has become a quiet obsession for me in recent years. The idea of trying to duplicate human intelligence has always seemed a bit strange and awkward. But would we even recognize it if we stumbled upon development of other forms of intelligence?
And then there is the idea of teaching machines values (say that out loud and try not to cringe) based on human literature. First question: who decides which values to teach?
The Network
This collaborative piece looking at how we think about bots contains contributions from Alexis Lloyd at the New York Times R&D Labs
Footnotes
As always, if this is not of interest, feel free to unsubscribe. If you think a friend or colleague would benefit from what we share, please pass this on or recommend.
Follow Changeist on Twitter, visit us on Medium, visit us on the Web, or drop us an email.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Changeist
A periodic look into research threads on critical futures, strategy, post-normal innovation, providing a look over the shoulder of the team at Changeist. Each issue includes brief analysis, links, updates, and occasional invisible hand gestures.
Carefully curated by Changeist with Revue. If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here. If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.