[ExI] Most Useful Futurists Past?

Robin D Hanson rhanson at gmu.edu
Mon Sep 28 13:36:25 UTC 2015

On 2015-09-26, I wrote:
If we are hoping to be helpful to the future by studying the future, it might help to have clear examples of people in the past who did similarly. Not just people who forsaw the future with some accuracy, but who helped to make the future better via their efforts. Visionary inventors fit this description somewhat; by painting a picture of what could be developed, they inspired people to develop a better future. But setting such inventors aside, who else do we have?

On Sep 28, 2015, at 8:33 AM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se<mailto:anders at aleph.se>> wrote:
HG Wells is often mentioned. He was the founder of attempts at scientific futurism, and actually did some not too bad forecasting work. He may be more well known as a sf writer, but he got many people to start on scientific forecasting as a real topic.

I think the Haldane-Bernal-Stapledon chain of influence may be another good example of vision and argued forecasting combined with popularization.

On Sep 28, 2015, at 5:10 AM, scerir <scerir at alice.it<mailto:scerir at alice.it>> wrote:
Mina Loy ?

Some of Mina Loy's "Aphorisms on Futurism" (as reported by Amara Graps):
* Die in the past. Live in the future.
* The Futurist can live a thousand years in one poem.
* Love the hideous in order to find the sublime core of it.
* In pressing the material to... derive its essence, matter becomes defined. ..

I accept these as examples of futurists that are read, admired, and inspired others into futurism. But do these count as concrete examples of helping "make the future better via their efforts”, other than via creating or inspiring invention? I worry that the futurist track record is far heavier with admiration, and even accuracy, than with concrete help for the future.

Robin Hanson  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Res. Assoc., Future of Humanity Inst., Oxford Univ.
Assoc. Professor, George Mason University
Chief Scientist, Consensus Point
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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