The Real Alternative

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The old New Age, hippie saying “Be Here Now” taken to the extreme

Today’s tweet caught my eye not because I believe it. Cummon. The idea is that a large chunk of history never happened and we’ve just artificially filled in the gaps.

From a commonsense perspective this is rubbish. A quick web search brings up all sorts of historical persons and acts during this “phantom time.”

We have lots of records. Physical records.

However, I mention the idea today because, well, it did give me pause over something maybe related.

Some schools of metaphysical thought claim that we can’t be sure of anything but the present. For all we know, they say, the universe is huge, flickering bunch of “presents.”

So this present that I’m writing in is really – according to the theory – just a present with a lot of true, false or simulated memories.

The next flicker could be an entirely different present (with an alternate set of history and memories) and I wouldn’t know the difference.

This next present would be just as real as my current present. And then in the next flicker, who knows… an entirely new set of memories, history, beliefs.

Image –

For those adhering to this idea, each moment is just as true, false or simulated as the next. And there could be countless flickering streams, all happening or possibly alternating at once.


Yeah, a bit.

But I think the notion is intellectually impossible to disprove.

If you find it hard wrapping your head around this, consider a computer processor. When multitasking, the processor alternates bits of data at super high speeds. Data flies through the processor so fast that tasks appear simultaneous to the user (for example, streaming music, transferring files and blogging).

But again your data is alternating at great speeds.

Could we be the same?

Obviously this is not a question to make the headlines in a 21st century where we’re mostly worried about lunatics with bad haircuts bombing us into oblivion.

But in the 91st century, who knows?


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Philosophy, Wisdom, and the Future

From Mexico Set by Marco Cadena

From "Mexico Set" by Marco Cadena via Flickr

By Tom Lombardo, Ph.D. © Copyright 2012 Center for Future Consciousness

Philosophy, from the ancient Greek, means the “love of wisdom.” What I wish to propose is that futurists should become philosophers in this sense: The primary guiding mindset and aspiration for futurists should be the pursuit, development, and practice of wisdom. My argument is simple: Wisdom is the highest expression of future consciousness and therefore should be the standard relative to which all thinking about the future and all approaches to the future are modeled and judged.

Let me begin by presenting a definition of wisdom, an evolving definition since wisdom itself is not some static capacity or trait, but a dynamic reality in evolution. I draw this definition from various articles I have written on wisdom, education, and the future.¹  Wisdom can be defined as the highest expression of self-development and future consciousness. It is the continually evolving understanding of and fascination with the big picture of life, of what is important, ethical, and meaningful, and the desire and ability to apply this understanding to enhance the well being of life, both for oneself and others. This definition has been distilled from contemporary psychological research and philosophical discussion, reflecting both Eastern and Western thinking, on the nature of wisdom.²

Now I will unpack this definition and enrich it with certain important details and implications, demonstrating why all of the central features of productively thinking about and successfully dealing with issues of the future are captured in this definition.

First note that wisdom is the pinnacle of human self-development. Numerous psychologists who have studied human development identify wisdom as the highest level of cognitive, emotional, personal, and ethical development that can be realized in humans. If futurists wish to walk the talk – to live their lives as exemplars of what they argue for – to intuitively understand what the ideal possibilities of human evolution in the future are – then futurists should aspire to wisdom in their own personal development.

Further, regarding this opening point, I should highlight that wisdom is a holistic psychological trait – it is not simply a cognitive capacity or storehouse of knowledge. There are emotional and personal features associated with the trait. Now it seems to me that our conscious attitude or general mindset relative to the future – what I refer to as “future consciousness” – involves emotional, motivational, and personal features, for example, the qualities of hope, fear, optimism-pessimism, and self-efficacy.³  Further, I would argue that constructive thinking and action relative to the future necessarily involve positive emotional and personal qualities. A negative emotional orientation, e.g., depression and pessimism, inhibits creative thinking and generates self-fulfilling negative prophecies. People who are afraid of the future run away from it or attack those who wish to embrace it. On the other hand, wisdom tends to be associated with the positive qualities of hope, compassion, and self-efficacy. To inspire and teach others about the future requires a positive emotional set relative to the future. To find constructive solutions to problems facing us requires optimism, hope, and other affective qualities. Hence, constructive future consciousness can not be seen as just a cognitive capacity; it is not simply a set of skills or body of knowledge. The holistic quality of wisdom captures this quintessential feature of constructive future consciousness.

Next, as already mentioned above, wisdom is dynamical and growing; in particular wisdom, as a form of knowledge and understanding, does not stand still – it keeps expanding and enriching itself. Whatever type of knowledge base we use to approach the future, that knowledge base must be conceived of as transformative and evolutionary. We can not understand the future from a static or stable position. (“The future ain’t what it used to be, and it never was.”) I have argued elsewhere that a key element of wisdom is that it continually incorporates new ideas and discoveries, for example, from contemporary science; one can’t be wise and stand still epistemologically. Part of any viable knowledge system is that it is open to revision, that it is tempered with doubt and humility, or how else would it transform and grow? Openness and epistemic humility are qualities of wisdom, and clearly these qualities are necessary in thinking about and conceptualizing the future.

Wisdom is comprehensive and integrative knowledge about life and the diverse aspects of human reality. For one thing, any viable approach to the future must be holistic, incorporating ecological, global, and even cosmic considerations and perspectives. This broad and synthetic picture of reality embodied in wisdom also includes the temporal dimension of things – of past, present, and future. Wisdom connects the heritage and lessons of the past with the thoughtfulness, openness, and creativity needed for the future. Wisdom involves an expansive synthesis of temporal consciousness – it combats the excessive narrow “presentism” of today. Predicting the future is based upon understanding the patterns of the past; guiding the future is based upon having learned from the mistakes and successes of the past. The futurist and the person of wisdom see outward into space and time and pull it together.

In the next part of the definition, I want to highlight the term “ethical,” for wisdom is a capacity focused on doing what is ethically best (or being guided by what is ethically best). Wisdom is ethically informed knowledge – wisdom is applied ethics. Again, wisdom is not just a cognitive capacity. Wisdom is also a virtue – an ethical character trait.

In considering the main types of thinking about the future, thinking about preferable futures occupies an important position. It is not enough to imagine possibilities or predict probabilities; it is just as important to consider the most preferable direction for the future. Thinking about the future must be ethically informed. Ethics ties in with choice; if the future is seen as an arena of possibilities and different choices, then it is ethical considerations that should determine which choices (or decisions) are made. To think and act ethically with respect to the future is just another way to define wisdom.

Wisdom is also connected with other virtues such as courage and compassion, which are also important factors in approaching the future. The future is uncertain, hence courage is required in making decisions and carrying out actions regarding the future. Compassion is part of wisdom because wisdom is concerned not only with personal betterment but the betterment of humanity. One will not be concerned about others and their well being unless one has compassion for others.

The last part of the definition indicates that wisdom is practical knowledge; it involves the capacity to positively impact reality. Analogously, futures thinking, or more broadly future consciousness, should have practical relevance; it should provide guidance regarding how to act. Action connects with ethics, for it is ethics which guides the choice of actions, but as a starting point, we must have the know-how and capacity to produce desired effects in the world through our actions. Wisdom is efficacious future consciousness.

Futurists argue that thinking about the future and becoming informed of the possibilities and probabilities of the future is of great benefit, the least of which, if we follow Francis Bacon’s dictum that “Knowledge is power,” is that we will be better able to constructively cope with and effectively direct the future unfolding of events. Yet, what normative model is provided regarding how best to realize the capacity of future consciousness? I have proposed that wisdom, as a virtue, a character trait, and a form of knowledge, provides the best model for describing heightened, efficacious, and constructive future consciousness. It is the ideal we should aspire toward in our own self-development and in guiding the development of others. Futurists should become philosophers in the true sense of the word.

¹ Lombardo, Thomas “The Pursuit of Wisdom and the Future of Education” Creating Global Strategies for Humanity’s Future. Mack, Timothy C. (Ed.) World Future Society, Bethesda, Maryland, 2006; Lombardo, Thomas “Developing Constructive and Creative Attitudes and Behaviors about the Future: Part IV – Wisdom, Virtues, and the Ideal Future Self-Narrative” in World Futures Study Federation Futures Bulletin, Volume 32, No. 3, June, 2007; Lombardo, Thomas “Wisdom and the Second Enlightenment” in World Futures Study Federation Futures Bulletin, Volume 32, No. 3, June, 2007b; Lombardo, Thomas, “The Evolution and Psychology of Future Consciousness” Journal of Future Studies, Volume 12, No. 1, August, 2007.
² Macdonald, Copthorne The Wisdom Page; Sternberg, Robert (Ed.) Wisdom: Its Nature, Origins, and Development. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990; Sternberg, Robert and Jordan, Jennifer (Ed.) A Handbook of Wisdom: Psychological Perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
³ Lombardo, Thomas “The Value of Future Consciousness” in Foresight, Innovation, and Strategy. Wagner, C. (Ed.) World Future Society: Bethesda, Maryland, 2005; Lombardo, Thomas “Thinking Ahead: The Value of Future Consciousness”, The Futurist, January-February, 2006; Lombardo, Thomas “Developing Constructive and Creative Attitudes and Behaviors about the Future: Part I – Deep Learning, Emotion, and Motivation” in World Futures Study Federation Futures Bulletin, Volume 31, No. 6, November, 2006.

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Is Today’s Technology Tomorrow’s Future?

By Knight Pierce Hirst

May 20, 2009 was a first. Astronauts aboard the space station drank water recycled from urine, sweat and water condensation from exhaled air. The urine recycling system is especially needed for outposts on the Moon and Mars, but it will also save NASA money by not having to ship as much water to the space station. The system’s ability to make about 6 gallons of water in about 6 hours will become even more important when the space station expands from 3 to 6 people. Today if you’re an astronaut, “urine” a unique group.

Farmers whose microchipped plants send text messages to the farmers’ cell phones asking for water are in a unique group. The thin sensor, which is smaller than a postage stamp, attaches to plant leaves like a clip-on earring. Using these sensors in the western U.S. to conserve water and the electricity needed to pump water across fields could save farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly. The original “plant cell phone” was developed by NASA to reduce time and supplies needed to grow crops in space. Today’s version still needs a power source, but future sensors could have solar panels as technology grows too.

As technology grows, a New York company may have made the most significant change in publishing since Guttenberg started printing more than 500 years ago. “On Demand Books” has installed a trial machine in a London bookstore. Containing 500,000 digitally saved titles and another 500,000 expected in 3 months, the printer runs at about 100 pages a minute, pages are stuck and bound together and a book is turned out. Although the machine costs $175,000, books average $15 and will enable bookstores to compete with Internet stores and electronic books. Although it’s called the “Espresso”, this machine grinds out books.

To divert fishing and diving from natural reefs, the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a retired Navy warship, ground to a halt when it was sunk in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The $8.6 million project is the world’s second-largest, artificial reef. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates the ship’s lifespan to be at least 100 years at 40-140 feet below water, providing a stable habitat for many fish species and exciting fishing and diving opportunities for residents and visitors. Because the Vandenberg reef is expected to increase spending in Monroe County by $7.5 million annually, their ship’s come in.

Article Source: Articles Engine

Knight Pierce Hirst takes a second look at what makes life interesting and it takes only second at

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Awards | has decided to present annual awards for innovative, forward-looking persons of great achievement. A great idea! But we need a great name. 

Think of it as an “Oscars” for the entire planet.

We’re now inviting suggestions for the name of the award. Don’t be shy! And remember, the awards will celebrate innovative, forward-looking persons of great achievement.

–Michael Clark

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