new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

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new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:15 am

Although Block 2 is just being presented as we speak, it's also a good opportunity to start thinking about changes for next year since this is the time when I get a lot of feedback.

One area where I want to do a lot of work is in developing new futuristic scenarios. Although Bob Costanza's Mad Max, Star Trek, Big Government, and Ecotopia have held up pretty well, I have deep concerns on whether the scenarios could be slightly rejigged so as to demonstrate some systems concepts a bit more explicitly.

The reasons why I chose the scenarios originally was that they mapped pretty well on four very distinct 'system architectures':

-- Big Government: hierarchical; centralised; rigid and specialised social roles; limited adaptability; highly efficient in stable environments but with significant underlying social tensions.

-- Star Trek: individualistic; decentralised; flexible and specialised social roles; high adaptability; highly efficient in unstable environments but with winners and losers ("survival of the fittest").

-- Ecotopia: egalitarian; cooperative; flexible and generic social roles; high resilience; highly efficient in unstable environments through mutual support ("symbiosis").

-- Mad Max: anarchic; loss of social roles; low resilience, adaptability and efficiency in any environment!!

So, the first thing to do is to decide on whether these categories and generic descriptions capture the main organisational structures within systems?

Then, we need to decide on some new catchy names that capture the essence of these descriptions.

And finally, starts developing the scenarios......

(Maybe it's a good thing that I've started working on this a year early! :shock: )
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Teiana on Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:28 am

i'm trying to imagine if there is some way we can plot all the characteristics onto one diagram..

I'm thinking something like a square graph where most resilient is one direction, most heirarchical in another, etc etc..

i have no idea if this would work. I'm just trying to figure a way of seeing what's missing..


I like the idea of new scenarios.

I like the idea of scenarios based on things like 'star trek' or 'mad max' - film or book themes where a kind of micro-world has been described.. i think these are easy for people to grasp and imagine..

i'm trying to work out how to get different scenarios but still have them based on things people can quickly get a grasp of.

as far as 'catchy names' goes, i think this is an important part - i think if they're difficult to pronounce or obscure people won't remember them, and if they're too 'narrow' or specific they will misrepresent the situation. Eg calling one situation 'anarchy' would narrow people's ideas of all the implications of that situation. Whereas calling it 'mad max' (or something) allows people to understand that there are various factors involved..
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby jim_lewis1 on Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:24 pm

how far out can these scenarios be?

I don't see any kind of hierarchical social system, (EG Like ancient Egypt).

Are we moving towards such a world through the division of connected knowledge workers and unconnected manual workers?

What model do you use to represent the situation as is in the world today with vast differences in income on a broad north/south split?

Attractive as such models are the extent to which they simplify the huge complexity of the entire world is a challenge in itself.
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:36 pm

Teiana wrote:i'm trying to imagine if there is some way we can plot all the characteristics onto one diagram....


The sketch below is something I scribbled down a couple of months ago when trying to represent the scenarios in a dynamic way (the upper right hand corner shows the dynamics playing out over time with the numbers indicating the various quadrants on the graph). The two axes represent "resource availability" and "speed of change" and the dynamics replicate the standard cycling within complex adaptive systems (Buz Holling's stuff). The 'k', 'r', 'e' and 's' symbols represent the main ecological life strategies that can be found in most ecosystems (hence showing how these are generic characteristics which can be mapped out onto all sorts of systems).

But I am not sure whether this will be of any use...... :?
future scenario dynamics sketch.jpg
future scenario dynamics sketch.jpg (32.37 KiB) Viewed 1348 times
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:48 pm

jim_lewis1 wrote:how far out can these scenarios be?


They have to be extreme and 'clean' i.e. no overlaps with other scenarios. They don't have to be realistic, in that the way things will actually play out will probably be a blend of all the scenarios. the key is to use them as tools to promote understanding rather than predict the future......

I don't see any kind of hierarchical social system, (EG Like ancient Egypt).


There's been the beginnings of a fascinating discussion in the block 2 discussion forum this year, thanks to a posting by Val referring to an interview James Lovelock gave the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/ ... ate-change

As usual, Lovelock is making an ass of himself with his idiotic eco-fascist views, which actually breaks my heart since I personally believe that his Gaia Theory is possibly the most significant scientific insight of the 20th century (if only he'd think through the implications of his own theory for how social systems could be organised in a cooperative and symbiotic way -- the bloody fool!! :( )

The problem is that there is evidence that the eco-fascist view is gaining purchase, especially with far right political groups (and the mechanism of repression are adamantly clear: through restrictive legislation), so I wouldn't dismiss this future outright......
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby jamesWtc on Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:51 pm

Maybe produce our own model of what the future might be, then compare it to 4 models of futuristic scenarios in terms of structure, controls, resiliency, etc?

Haha... Maybe I am asking too much. Forgive me! :D
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby jim_lewis1 on Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:34 pm

He certainly seems to have a fairly well developed misanthropy.

I often think when people bemoan the loss of young talented musicaians that it might be better that they died young so that we don't get to hear their awful output in later life, (and the sight of people who should know better geriatrically wobbling around on stage- eg the stones).

I think just after developing the Gaia theory would have been about right for this guy.
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Andrea on Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:38 pm

jim_lewis1 wrote:He certainly seems to have a fairly well developed misanthropy.


Touché! That's exactly the word I used in the block 2 discussion forum :mrgreen:

I think just after developing the Gaia theory would have been about right for this guy.


I should have shot him when I met him in 1991 (as part of my ecology degree, I took a module in science communication and I researched a BBC Radio Four program he participated in). But at that time he was like a prophet to me -- after all, he introduced me to the idea of the Earth Goddess Gaia!! I should have done a "Mark Chapman" :evil:
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Dave H on Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:55 am

I liked the four sccenarios and consider that they are still valid and comprehensive. However I just wonder if some changes are required. the big one and it has been mentioned before and touched upon in many posts is that there needs to be a more of a link beteween economic, the environment and society and indeed possible even a new kind of economics. Exploring some of these isues might create an interesting scenario.
Another area that might be investigated for a scenario is transport where the railways were basically established to move coal around and transport the workers for the industrial revolution. Now it seems that coal has been replaced by oil so what will happen next. I wonder what sort of scenario could be developed from this.
Another possible area which is much more environmental is that there appears to be a poor understanding of the archaeology of climate change. Sort of linked to this I was looking at a display panel over the weekend that stated we do not understand the changes that there taking place in the The Wash. I consider that these changes must be closely linked to the Fens which have been flooded and drained two or three times over the last 2,000 years. So again could these ideas be developed into a scenario.
Just ideas and I am not sure how realistic any of these are.
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Re: new futuristic scenarios for Block 2?

Postby Teiana on Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:06 pm

they aren't supposed to be realistic - see andreas post.

They're supposed to provide thought provoking exaggerations of the ways different mind-sets/behaviours/politics could appear when taken to extremes.
H.R.H. 8-)
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