Knowing The Future From The Present
THERE IS NO DISPUTING THAT FUTURE ANXIETY RULES THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS AND SOCIETIES AND IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY PREOCCUPATIONS OF THE HUMAN MIND.
Professor David Passig is one of the world’s leading experts on the future, which has become an academic discipline since the Second World War. And Turkey is one of the countries that loom large in his book, 2050, a Turkish edition of which was published recently. The translation into Turkish from the original Hebrew was the first to appear in the world. We asked Passig about his future studies and how he came to write the book.
What sort of method do you use to predict the future?
I actually use several different methods for predicting the future, but they can be divided into four groups. The first is so precise as to yield almost 75 percent accuracy. A few different variables that fall into this group are calculated in great detail. The second group is calculated based on current trends and used more in forecasting near-term futures. The futures that fall into this group can be accurate up to 50 percent of the time. Yet another group of methods is wild card (joker) futures. The accuracy rate of this group, which analyzes events that are either low probability or difficult to predict, is around 30 percent. Another method I employ is used to predict preferable futures, but unfortunately this group has the lowest accuracy rate. Since what I do is not prophesying, there always has to be a margin for error. I don’t claim that what I write in my books is absolutely true, but these are results I have arrived at following long-term scientific studies.
What kind of work do you do at the Virtual Reality Laboratories of Bar-Ilan University where you are a faculty member?
Virtual reality is part and parcel of future studies. It enhances one’s power of perception. Human beings can increase their IQ by up to 17 percent. Thanks to virtual reality, we can speed up the development of people’s perceptual and analytical capabilities by using their IQ. The technology that is developing today inspires a serious degree of fear in individuals and society. At the Virtual Reality Laboratories we focus on current trends, power of perception and geopolitics, and we also produce probable future scenarios.
Science fiction is a genre concerned with the fear that technology creates in society. The power of imagination occupies an important place in art, especially in science fiction. How important is imagination in future studies?
Even though some works of science fiction make significant predictions about probable futures, I would say that rationality has higher priority than imagination in futurism. The imagination is not considered valid and reliable in future studies. In a future prediction regarding evolution, for example, a science fiction writer might imagine that human beings could evolve in such a way as to be able to fly, but biologically this has no validity or credibility.
Your book deals in general with the political and geopolitical futures of countries. Is it also possible to do future studies in other areas, as in the example you just cited?
It is possible to make predictions about the future in all the academic disciplines using the methodologies I mentioned earlier.
Turkey has a prominent place in your book. In fact, it even has an introductory chapter written specially for the Turkish reader. Do you have any special advice for Turkish readers?
All the civilizations that have come and gone throughout history on the lands where Turkey sits at this moment were the most powerful in the region. Whether they like it or not, these lands, which constitute a major bridge between East and West, place a special responsibility on the people who live here. The region’s importance seemed to wane from the late Ottoman to the early period of the Republic. But more recently Turkey has made an important leap forward both economically and politically. As I mention in the introduction to my book, Turkey is going to experience anew the sense of being a superpower that is in her blood.
Futurism is an academic discipline that emerged following the Second World War. It first appeared in the military, the reason naturally being the desire of states and armies to outline future-oriented strategies. Analyzing the statistical data they have in hand using mathematical formulas and various computer software programs, futurists postulate the most probable future-oriented scenarios, enabling societies, states and armies to position themselves accordingly.
CONSULTANT TO LEADERS
Professor David Passig also offers consulting services for multinational corporations and prominent world leaders, whose names are kept strictly secret.