Deep Futures

Deep Futures: Our Prospects for Survival

DOUG COCKS
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 330
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hjcj
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Deep Futures
    Book Description:

    Doug Cocks looks at the predictions of serious futurologists for what lies ahead of us all, looking as far into the future as the next glacial age. He reflects on ideas for thinking about the future, drawn from an array of disciplines, and on the broad questions that will continue to confront humanity. Finally, he identifies strategies that might be adopted to maximize humanity’s prospects into the near future and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7175-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. x-x)
    Doug Cocks
  4. PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. PART 1: FUTURES WE HAVE GLIMPSED
    • 1 21C: A DIFFICULT CENTURY
      (pp. 3-72)

      What sorts of futures have we humans foreseen for ourselves? The answer is ‘all sorts’; from fleeting to eternal and, in terms of quality of life, from short and brutish to rich and fulfilling. In this first chapter we focus on the 21st century and ask what serious observers have detected in the way of possible worldly changes during this period which stand to significantly influence quality of life prospects, up or down, for large numbers of people.

      Of all the centuries that comprise humanity’s possible future, the 21st is particularly important for two reasons. One is that we are...

    • 2 DEEP FUTURES
      (pp. 73-132)

      Having presumed a safe landing, either smooth or bumpy, in 2100 CE, what have future-gazers foreseen for the rest of time for the species in question and its descendants? We will tackle this at three ‘magnifications’, starting with some perceptions of the next thousand years (M3). Future-gazing starts to get difficult beyond that because, by then, more and more aspects of people, societies and nature (and their interactions) as known to us will have been displaced by new forms not obviously descended from present forms. It made some sense for Hitler to talk about a thousand-year Reich, but not a...

  6. PART 2: UNDERSTANDING THE TASK
    • 3 WHAT IS THE QUESTION?
      (pp. 135-147)

      Chapter 1 asked where informed and thoughtful people think humanity is going in the 21st century and Chapter 2 asked the same question for the rest of time. We were interested in what those people thought would or could happen, not what ‘should’ happen. In this chapter, we turn to asking what people might like to see happening in the future and the conditions under which such preferences might become goals that they set out to actively achieve.

      While there can be no common answer to what people might like to see happening in the future, especially the deep future,...

    • 4 UNDERSTANDING HOW SOCIETIES CHANGE OVER TIME
      (pp. 148-204)

      My primary reason for wanting to understand how and why societies change over time is that such understanding may suggest how to move world society towards my proposed goal of quality survival. Obversely, it may help the lineage to avoid a painful Hobbesian extinction. Not that one’s expectations as to what can be immediately learned should be too high. This chapter identifies just a handful of useful broad-brush models of social change. Beyond that, it draws out some issues that recur when deciding how to collectively manage such change. I will use the termsocietal changeor, equivalently, socio-cultural change,...

  7. PART 3: TAKING CHARGE
    • 5 A STRATEGY FOR MANAGING THE DEEP FUTURE
      (pp. 207-214)

      In this book’s Introduction, our lineage’s journey into the future was likened to a Dungeons and Dragons adventure with Posterity, our hero, being confronted with a yet bigger dragon after each successful battle. While happy with that as a first metaphor for the lineage’s life story — a series of escalating challenges to be surmounted — I am now in need of a metaphor which evokes the enormous intellectual complexity of the problem of managing the near-to-distant future to achieve quality survival. For brevity, I will refer to this as thedeep futures problem.

      My choice is the metaphor of...

    • 6 GUIDELINES I: NURSING THE WORLD THROUGH ENDLESS CHANGE
      (pp. 215-233)

      Behind my nomination of ‘guiding endless change’ as a priority issue is a conviction that it is a legitimate and productive world view to see the deep futures problem as involving unceasing intervention in the irrepressible development of a dissipative complex system called world society. It is a view I would like to see more widely accepted but many are sceptical. It might be said, for example, that seeing the quality-survival challenge in this way is interesting but offers little of substance to those asking what needs to be done when by whom; that applying developmental systems theory to world...

    • 7 GUIDELINES II: LEARNING FOREVER
      (pp. 234-255)

      HG Wells thought the future to be a two-horse race between knowledge and disaster. A century later, it is no clearer which is winning, jus that the pace has increased. This chapter asks if the odds on knowledge can be systematically shortened.

      A good part of this book so far is about identifying and making the best possible use of what societies already know as they pursue quality survival, for example, by turning it into decision-making guidelines. Clearly, what we know is not enough, at least within a framework where managing the future is interpreted as a matter of guiding...

    • 8 GUIDELINES III: WORKING ON PERENNIAL ISSUES
      (pp. 256-293)

      This is the last of three chapters identifying and discussing ideas for policy guidelines for a world society committed to pursuing the goal of quality survival via a strategy of responding collectively to an unrolling set of priority issues. Chapter 6 addressed the possibility of guiding the behaviour of an endlessly and unpredictably changing world. Chapter 7 asked what has to be done if world society is to become a learning society in which high priority is given to creating the knowledge considered necessary for quality survival.

      Here, under the umbrella of the priority issue ‘Confronting near-future threats and opportunities’,...

    • 9 STORIES TO LIVE BY
      (pp. 294-299)

      Let me start this final chapter by recapitulating what this book has done. Chapters 1 and 2 reviewed a multitude of scenarios and opinions on what the world and human through to post-human society might be like politically, socially, psychologically, technologically, economically and environmentally — over the 21st century and, more panoramically, for the rest of time. Chapter 3 argued that it is legitimate and useful for societies to have collective goals and suggested quality survival (high quality of life for most people into the indefinite future) as an appropriate goal for an emerging world society.

      As a preliminary to...

  8. APPENDIX: BASIC PROPERTIES OF DISSIPATIVE (ENERGY-DEGRADING) SYSTEMS
    (pp. 300-303)
  9. REFERENCES
    (pp. 304-320)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 321-332)