We all seem to suffer from the disease of change. At least that is what Alvin Toffler assumed in his book on ‘future shock’ back in 1970. He described it as the psycho-biological state of stress induced by too much change in too short a time. “Future shock is the dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future. It may well be the most important disease of tomorrow” –he said (Toffler, Future Shock. New York: Random House, 1970, 15), predicting our present, 50 years later. He meant a different disease than the one that struck the world at the turn of the third decade of the third millennium, but he strongly pointed to the significance of constant change. Almost 20 years prior to Toffler’s bestseller, psychiatrist-philosopher Karl Jaspers coined the period when profound changes converge to become the defining force as the ‘axial age,’ assuming that “There are tranquil ages, which seem to contain that which will last forever, and which feel themselves to be final. And there are ages of change which see upheavals that, in extreme instance, appear to go to the roots of humanity itself” (Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History. London: Routledge, 1953, 231).
On what vehicle does future prematurely arrive? What fuels the constant change, the experience of which we all share? Are we humans the agents or the tools of change? Is there a new axial age, and if so, is it the time when humans will turn out to be inferior to a higher form of intelligence?
This chapter does not aim to be dystopian. On the contrary, it sets off to investigate the future as human within the context of emerging technologies.
Presuming that the proliferation of digital and intelligent technologies is what make humans face constant change and challenges, the essay will discuss three perspectives of human orientation to the future. First, it looks at our capacity to orient forward in time. Second, it dwells upon the phenomenon of future shock with special focus on human-technology relations. Third, it discusses how much human intelligence is by origin future-oriented. The argument pursued in the essay is that increased awareness is needed to engage with our predicted futures and technologies.
Aczél, P. K. (2021). Future Shock or Future Chic? Future human skills in the context of technological proliferation. In J. Katz, J. Floyd, & K. Schiepers (Eds.), Perceiving the Future through New Communication Technologies (pp. 179–193). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham; MTMT. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84883-5_12