Facing the future: Option 3

When I commented a few days ago about strategies for dealing with the future other than futuring I mentioned two: quick reactions and resilience. I just thought of a third: muddling through. Probably it is the most common way people, groups and societies move forward. A little planning, a little insight, a lot of wrangling about what to do and just hanging on. It’s a real-world mix of anticipation, reacting and resilience.

Personally I think that’s how world society will deal with the next few centuries. What to do with 8.9 billion people? Muddle through. Global warming? If and when the waters are lapping at the doorsteps in Malibu and New Orleans, rowboats will be all the fashion. After all, Venice, Italy, of today is built on top of two or three other layers of the city that sank in the ooze of the past. Grow rice on the Canadian tundra. Huge global markets and labor supply? The restless souls around the world will adjust their lives and lifestyles—perhaps painfully—to accommodate what comes. Fearsome biotechnologies and nanotechnologies that make some people quake in their boots for their potential to be used malevolently? Biohazard suits at The Gap. Muddle through. Turbulent? You bet!

Muddling through is the default behavior for human progress and a good approximation of Kevin Kelly’s notion of Out of Control. Does this view pass for optimism?