Near future redirects here. For near future events, seeTimeline of the near future.
TheGhost of Christmas Yet to ComeshowsScroogehis future inDickens
Thefutureis thetimeafter thepresent. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence oftimeand thelaws of physics. Due to the apparent nature ofrealityand the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and willexistcan be categorized as either permanent, meaning that it will exist forever, or temporary, meaning that it will end.1In theOccidentalview, which uses a linear conception of time, the future is the portion of the projected time line that is anticipated to occur.2Inspecial relativity, the future is consideredabsolute future, or the futurelight cone.3
In thephilosophy of timepresentismis thebeliefthat only the presentexistsand the future and the past areunreal. Religions consider the future when they address issues such askarmalife after death, andeschatologiesthat study what the end of time and the end of the world will be. Religious figures such asprophetsanddivinershave claimed to see into the future. Future studies, orfuturology, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible futures. Modern practitioners stress the importance of alternative and plural futures, rather than one monolithic future, and the limitations of prediction andprobability, versus the creation of possible and preferable futures.
The concept of the future has been explored extensively in cultural production, includingartmovements and genres devoted entirely to its elucidation, such as the 20th century movementfuturism.
In physics, time is a fourth dimension. Physicists argue thatspacetimecan be understood as a sort of stretchy fabric that bends due to forces such as gravity. Inclassical physicsthe future is just a half of the timeline, which is the same for all observers. Inspecial relativitythe flow of time is relative to the observersframe of reference. The faster an observer is traveling away from a reference object, the slower that object seems to move through time. Hence, future is not an objective notion anymore. A more significant notion isabsolute futureor the futurelight cone. While a person can move backwards or forwards in the three spatial dimensions, many physicists argue you are only able to move forward in time.4
One of the outcomes of Special Relativity Theory is that a person can travel into the future (but never come back) by traveling at very high speeds. While this effect is negligible under ordinary conditions, space travel at very high speeds can change the flow of time considerably. As depicted in manyscience fictionstories and movies (e.g.Dj Vu), a person traveling for even a short time at nearlight speedwill return to an Earth that is many years in the future.
Some physicists claim that by using awormholeto connect two regions of spacetime a person could theoretically travel in time. PhysicistMichio Kakupoints out that to power this hypothetical time machine and punch a hole into the fabric of space-time, it would require the energy of a star. Another theory is that a person could travel in time withcosmic strings.
John Lewis Gaddis,The Landscape of History.5
In thephilosophy of time, presentism is thebeliefthat only the presentexists, and the future andpastareunreal. Past and future entities are construed aslogicalconstructions orfictions. The opposite of presentism iseternalism, which is the belief that things in the past and things yet to come existeternally. Another view (not held by many philosophers) is sometimes called theof timewhich postulates that the past and present exist, but the future does not.6
Presentism iscompatiblewithGalilean relativity, in which time is independent of space, but is probably incompatible withLorentzianEinsteinianrelativity in conjunction with certain other philosophicalthesesthat many find uncontroversial.that the present is a knife edge between the past and the future and could not contain any extended period of time.
Contrary to Saint Augustine, some philosophers propose that conscious experience is extended in time. For instance,William Jamessaid that time is …the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible.citation neededAugustine proposed that God is outside of time and present for all times, ineternity. Other early philosophers who were presentists include theBuddhists(in the tradition ofIndian Buddhism). A leading scholar from the modern era onBuddhist philosophyisStcherbatsky, who has written extensively on Buddhist presentism:
Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental… is unreal… Ultimately real is only the present moment of physicalefficiency[i.e.,causation].
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Human behavioris known to encompass anticipation of the future. Anticipatory behavior can be the result of a psychological outlook toward the future, for examplesoptimismpessimism, andhope.
Optimism is an outlook on life such that one maintains a view of the world as a positive place. People would say that optimism is seeing the glass half full of water as opposed to half empty. It is the philosophical opposite of pessimism. Optimists generally believe that people and events are inherently good, so that most situations work out in the end for the best. Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in ones life. Hope implies a certain amount of despair, wanting, wishing, suffering or perseverance i.e., believing that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. Hopefulness is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude.
Pessimismas stated before is the opposite of optimism. It is the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, or problems. The word originates in Latin from Pessimus meaning worst and Malus meaning bad.
Religions consider the future when they address issues such askarmalife after death, andeschatologiesthat study what the end of time and the end of the world will be. In religion, major prophets are said to have the power to change the future. Common religious figures have claimed to see into the future, such as minorprophetsanddiviners. The term afterlife refers to the continuation ofexistenceof thesoulspiritormindof a human (or animal) after physicaldeath, typically in aspiritualorghostlikeafterworld. Deceased persons are usually believed to go to a specific region orplane of existencein this afterworld, often depending on the rightness of their actions during life.
Some believe the afterlife includes some form of preparation for thesoulto transfer to another body (reincarnation). The major views on the afterlife derive fromreligionesotericismandmetaphysics. There are those who are skeptical of the existence of the afterlife, or believe that it is absolutely impossible, such as thematerialist-reductionists, who believe that the topic issupernatural, therefore does not really exist or is unknowable. In metaphysical models,theistsgenerally believe some sort of afterlife awaits people when they die.Atheistsgenerally do not believe in a life after death. Members of some generally non-theistic religions such asBuddhism, tend to believe in an afterlife likereincarnationbut without reference toGod.
Agnosticsgenerally hold the position that like the existence of God, the existence of supernatural phenomena, such as souls or life after death, is unverifiable and therefore unknowable.8Many religions, whether they believe in the souls existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and manypaganbelief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that ones status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life, with the exception ofCalvinisticvariants ofProtestantChristianity, which believes ones status in the afterlife is a gift from God and cannot be earned during life.
Eschatologyis a part oftheologyandphilosophyconcerned with the final events in thehistory of the world, or the ultimatedestinyofhumanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world. While inmysticismthe phrase refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine, in many traditionalreligionsit is taught as an actual future eventprophesiedinsacred textsorfolklore. More broadly, eschatology may encompass related concepts such as theMessiahorMessianic Age, theend time, and theend of days.
InGrammar, actions are classified according to one of the following twelve verb tenses: past (pastpast continuouspast perfect, orpast perfect continuous), present (presentpresent continuouspresent perfect, orpresent perfect continuous), or future (future,future continuousfuture perfect, orfuture perfect continuous).9The future tense refers to actions that havent yet happened, but which are due, expected, or likely to occur in the future.10For example, in the sentence, She will walk home, the verb will walk is in the future tense because it refers to an action that is going to, or is likely to, happen at a point in time beyond the present.
Verbs in the future continuous tense indicate actions that will happen beyond the present and will continue for a period of time.11In the sentence, She will be walking home, theverb phrasewill be walking is in the future continuous tense because the action described is not happening now, but will happen sometime afterwards and is expected to continue happening for some time. Verbs in the future perfect tense indicate actions that will be completed at a particular point in the future.12For example, theverb phrase, will have walked, in the sentence, She will have walked home, is in the future perfect tense because it refers to an action that is completed as of a specific time in the future. Finally, verbs in the future perfect continuous tense combine the features of the perfect and continuous tenses, describing the future status of actions that have been happening continually from now or the past through to a particular time in the future.13In the sentence, She will have been walking home, the verb phrase will have been walking is in the future perfect continuous tense because it refers to an action that the speaker anticipates will be finished in the future.
Another way to think of the various future tenses is that actions described by the future tense will be completed at an unspecified time in the future, actions described by the future continuous tense will keep happening in the future, actions described by the future perfect tense will be completed at a specific time in the future, and actions described by the future perfect continuous tense are expected to be continuing as of a specific time in the future.
The linear view of time (common inWestern thought) draws a stronger distinction between past and future than does the more commoncyclic timeof cultures such as India, where past and future can coalesce much more readily.14
Future studiesor futurology is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. A key part of this process is understanding the potential future impact of decisions made by individuals, organisations and governments. Leaders use results of such work to assist in decision-making.
Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterdays and todays changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow. It includes analyzing the sources, patterns, and causes of change and stability in the attempt to develop foresight and to map possible futures. Modern practitioners stress the importance of alternative and plural futures, rather than one monolithic future, and the limitations of prediction and probability, versus the creation of possible and preferable futures.
Three factors usually distinguish futures studies from the research conducted by other disciplines (although all disciplines overlap, to differing degrees). First, futures studies often examines not only possible but also probable, preferable, and wild card futures. Second, futures studies typically attempts to gain a holistic or systemic view based on insights from a range of different disciplines. Third, futures studies challenges and unpacks the assumptions behind dominant and contending views of the future. The future thus is not empty but fraught with hidden assumptions.
Futures studies does not generally include the work of economists who forecast movements of interest rates over the next business cycle, or of managers or investors with short-term time horizons. Most strategic planning, which develops operational plans for preferred futures with time horizons of one to three years, is also not considered futures. But plans and strategies with longer time horizons that specifically attempt to anticipate and be robust to possible future events, are part of a major subdiscipline of futures studies called strategic foresight.
The futures field also excludes those who make future predictions through professed supernatural means. At the same time, it does seek to understand the models such groups use and the interpretations they give to these models.
Forecasting is the process ofestimatingoutcomes in uncontrolled situations. Forecasting is applied in many areas, such asweather forecastingearthquake predictiontransport planning, andlabour marketplanning. Due to the element of the unknown,riskanduncertaintyare central to forecasting.
Statistically based forecasting employstime serieswithcross-sectionalorlongitudinaldata.Econometricforecasting methods use the assumption that it is possible to identify the underlying factors that might influence the variable that is being forecast. If the causes are understood, projections of the influencing variables can be made and used in the forecast. Judgmental forecasting methods incorporate intuitive judgments, opinions and probability estimates, as in the case of theDelphi methodscenario building, andsimulations.
Prediction is similar to forecasting but is used more generally, for instance to also include baseless claims on the future. Organized efforts topredictthe future began with practices likeastrologyharuspicy, andaugury. These are all considered to bepseudosciencetoday, evolving from the human desire to know the future in advance.
Modern efforts such asfuture studiesattempt to predict technological and societal trends, while more ancient practices, such as weather forecasting, have benefited fromscientificandcausal modelling. Despite the development ofcognitiveinstruments for the comprehension of future, thestochasticandchaoticnature of many natural and social processes has made precise forecasting of the future elusive.
Futurismas anart movementoriginated inItalyat the beginning of the 20th century. It developed largely inItalyand inRussia, although it also had adherents in other countries – in England and Portugal for example. The Futurists explored every medium of art, includingpaintingsculpturepoetrytheatremusicarchitecture, and evengastronomy. Futurists had a passionate loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions. They also espoused a love ofspeedtechnology, andviolence. Futurists dubbed the love of the pastpassisme. The car, the plane, and the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of people overnature. TheFuturist Manifestoof 1909 declared: We will glorify warthe worlds only hygienemilitarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.15Though it owed much of its character and some of its ideas toradical political movements, it had little involvement in politics until the autumn of 1913.16
Futurism in Classical Music arose during this same time period. Closely identified with the central Italian Futurist movement were brother composersLuigi Russolo(1885-1947) andAntonio Russolo(1877-1942), who used instruments known asintonarumori- essentiallysound boxesused to create music out of noise. Luigi Russolos futurist manifesto,The Art of Noises, is considered one of the most important and influential texts in 20th century musical aesthetics.17Other examples of futurist music includeArthur HoneggerPacific 231(1923), which imitates the sound of a steam locomotive,ProkofievThe Steel Step(1926),Alexander MosolovIron Foundry(1927), and the experiments ofEdgard Varse.
Literary futurismmade its debut withF.T. MarinettisManifesto of Futurism(1909). Futurist poetry used unexpected combinations of images and hyper-conciseness (not to be confused with the actual length of the poem). Futurist theater works have scenes a few sentences long, use nonsensical humor, and try to discredit the deep-rooted dramatic traditions with parody. Longer literature forms, such as novels, had no place in the Futurist aesthetic, which had an obsession with speed and compression.
Futurism expanded to encompass other artistic domains and ultimately included painting, sculpture, ceramics,graphic design, industrial design, interior design, theatre design, textiles, drama, literature, music and architecture. In architecture, it featured a distinctive thrust towardsrationalismandmodernismthrough the use ofadvanced building materials. The ideals of futurism remain as significant components of modernWestern culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercialcinemaandcommercial culture. Futurism has produced several reactions, including the 1980s-era literary genre ofcyberpunk which often treated technology with a critical eye.
More generally, one can regardscience fictionas a broad genre offictionthat often involves speculations based on current or futurescienceortechnology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theater, and other media. Science fiction differs fromfantasyin that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (thoughsomeelements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Settings may include the future, or alternative time-lines, and stories may depict new or speculative scientific principles (such astime travelorpsionics), or new technology (such asnanotechnologyfaster-than-lighttravel orrobots). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a literature of ideas.19
Somescience fictionauthors construct a postulatedhistoryof the future called afuture historythat provides a common background for their fiction. Sometimes authors publish atimelineof events in their history, while other times the reader can reconstruct the order of the stories from information in the books. Some published works constitute future history in a more literal sensei.e., stories or whole books written in the style of a history book but describing events in the future. Examples includeH.G. WellsThe Shape of Things to Come(1933) – written in the form of a history book published in the year 2106 and in the manner of a real history book with numerous footnotes and references to the works of (mostly fictitious) prominent historians of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Encyclopædia of religion and ethics. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. Page 335337.
Moore, C.-L., & Yamamoto, K. (1988). Beyond words: movement observation and analysis. New York: Gordon and Breach. Page 57. (cf., The representation of time as a linear, unidirectional progression is a distinctly Occidental point of view.)
Eddington, A. S. (1921).Space, time and gravitation; an outline of the general relativity theory. Cambridge: University Press. Page 107.
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
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In a cyclic universe, each event that lies in the past of the present moment, also lies in its future.
The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism. italianfuturism.org (Originally published on
Heinlein, Robert A.; Kornbluth, Cyril; Bester, Alfred; Bloch, Robert (1959).
Science Fiction: Its Nature, Faults and Virtues
Marg Gilks, Paula Fleming and Moira Allen (2003).Science Fiction: The Literature of Ideas. WritingWorld.com.
Far future in science fiction and popular culture
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