The futures of agency
Exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), 11:00-13:00, imagine3

Fear of the Future: Foresight Education versus Conspiracy Theories

The fear of conspiracy has daunted humanity for centuries. Recently, however, these notions have surpassed absurdity (“Q-anon” for example). While rapid advances in artificial intelligence may seem to be “justification” for heightened paranoia, the “anti-tech” phenomenon has been present since the invention of the printing press, if not since marine navigation was made possible by the advent of the compass, astrolabe, and Portolan charts. It is therefore more important than ever that futures literacy be cognizant of the aspect of the human condition that fears the future and succors paranoia. Recent work by Dentith, Pfeiffer, and Stokes examines the epistemology of conspiracy theories in a special issue of ""Social Epistemology"" (2023). In particular, the consideration of the “probabilistic” approach and “normative turn” these researchers identify in recent conspiracy theorizing is relevant to education about futures studies. A 1998 ""TechTrends"" study by Koetting and Januszewski presaged this tilt toward a pervasive fear of new technology that has distinctive features about education to which futures studies should be attuned. My paper will conclude with a review of the historical perspective of the last century provided by Friedrich Juenger’s ""The Failure of Technology"" and Ernst Juenger’s concept of total mobilization as context for the present state of tech-induced anxiety about the future and how education may mitigate this.

Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University