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Stories We Tell Ourselves

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Humans need stories. We need stories behind us, like genesis myths and heroic sagas, and stories in f
 

Changeist

February 28 · Issue #14 · View online
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 easter eggs.

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
Moonshot - NRC Live
Stories We Tell Ourselves
crapfutures.tumblr.com
Technological Dreams
Our Gothic Future
The chips are down for Moore’s law
Could machines have become self-aware without our knowing it?
Robots Could Learn Human Values By Reading Stories, Research Suggests
The Network
How to Think About Bots
Footnotes
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