The future is NOT now!

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

This week I had conversations that are so eloquently captured in this quote attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer. The conversations contrasted two very different mindsets.

One of these mindsets will take us forward. The other will not.

Let me begin with the latter one. These proponents suggested that the changes required to transform our energy industries could not possibly happen, as there was too much invested in the current framework. Statistics were quoted, physics and maths used to substantiate impossibility. Thus they also felt that further investment in the present technologies – although problematic – was appropriate. Whatever the outcomes, the expectations were being molded, shrunk, and sliced to fit into the present circumstances.

On a different subject, the other proponents were seeking to solve a series of design problems. The tone of this conversation was very different. There were few disagreements, as most of the discussion was founded on speculation. Even a rebuttal would be speculation. There were few facts in this conversation, and many “What ifs”. The present circumstances were only relevant as a starting point. There was not even the slightest indication that these circumstances were part of the final picture. In fact, it was understood that they could not, and must not, be part of the final picture.

When I think back the transformations that have taken place in the world since my childhood,

I know that even in my wildest imagination I can not conceive what my children’s world will look like to them in three or four decades.

In my most absurd moment of creative extravagance, I know that the very best I can come up with pales in comparison to what they will experience. I only ever felt this daunted when reading Asimov’s Foundation books, and pondering on the whole idea of imagining a world not one or two generations ahead, but thousands of years. 

We have nothing to be afraid of dreaming up some faraway goalposts for us to aim at from the present. The future is not now, we can not base our decisions for tomorrow only on what is possible today. Sure, common sense applies, but infuse it with some uncommon sense. We need to imagine what we want, not what we have, or even what is possible.

We can only dream. But we place that dream into one absolute certainty: Tomorrow something will be possible that was not possible today.