Note — Oct 24, 2021

The Future Is Not a Solution

Laura Forlano explains how the technofuture endorsed by so many in technology ends up also being the default vision broadly accepted and so often left unchallenged. But it is simply a future—albeit one representing powerful forces—and there are ways of imagining different ones, with goals other than the technokleptocrats, including more people, more perspectives, considering varied drivers and goals. It’s possible, needed actually, to formulate pluriversal futures. How about “Black futures? Feminist futures? Queer futures? Trans futures? Crip futures? Working-class futures? Asian futures? Indigenous futures? And multispecies futures?”

Dourish and Bell suggest that perhaps it would be better to acknowledge that the future is already here, full of the kinds of technological problems that we experience every day—moving from the futures portrayed in science fiction to futures full of messiness and frictions. […]

[Devon] Powers argues that trends are “superficially progressive” but inherently “apolitical” or “antipolitical,” in that they “envision a future that keeps the fundamental structures and relations of the present intact.” […]

I describe this approach as “speculative praxis” that uses “theory as a design material.” Critical futures of this kind require a deep and reflexive engagement in sociological and anthropological understandings of the consequences of design and technology. […]

How do we experience change and uncertainty? How can we engage with unfamiliar contexts and situations? What kinds of worlds are we truly committed to building? What must we give up and what might we gain? How might we learn resilience, care, and community in the face of multiple interlinked crises—climate, political, cultural, economic, or otherwise?