“Myths of the future”

Interactive method: survey and floor map of the future, adapted from Boschetti’s et al. original survey


Fabio Boschetti, Jennifer Price & Iain Walker (2016) “Myths of the future and scenario archetypes” Technological Forecasting & Social Change 111: 76–85

The research on “Myths of the future” stems from findings in social cognition and cultural theory concerning patterns of shared values and beliefs about society and the environment and how they relate to each other (Myths of physical and human nature). Analysing about 600 foresight processes, Boschetti et al. demonstrate that this body of theory is also relevant to the future: visions of the future also fall into six main overarching Myths. Therefore the future too is a story of the relationships between the natural, the social, and the technical worlds.

A survey in 24 questions (taken over and adapted from Boschetti’s et al. original survey) helps the workshop participants uncover the “Myths of the future” that most speak to them. Subsenquently, participants are asked to position themselves on a floor map of the future based on the research. In this way becomes visible that everyone share a diffferent view on the future.

The aim of the survey (and its embodiement through the floor map) is not so much to categorize the participants in one or the other “myth” (who generally respond to various “myths”) but to provide them with a way to take a step back from their attitudes and beliefs about the future and open up alternative images and ideas about what may come.

The eco-crisis myth: environmental conditions and natural habitats are likely to decline and lead to social unrest.
The social crisis myth: traditional values, social order, and human competence are likely to decline in the future.
The power and economic inequality myth: big business and governments are likely to become more powerful and cause social inequality and economic crisis.
The traditionalist environmentalism myth: biotech and nanotech entail risks for the environment as well as for humanity, which is likely to return to simpler ways of living.
The techno-optimism myth: science and technology are likely to create innovations that improve quality of life.
The social transformation myth: society is likely to become more decentralized, caring, and collectively empowered.