Quote: This is a one-shot affair (Hoyle)

It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.

— Fred Hoyle, Of Men and Galaxies, 1966, p. 64

I’ve grown impatient with the kind of debate we used to have about whether optimists or the pessimists are right. Neither are right. There is too much bad news to justify complacency. There is too much good news to justify despair. I am not afraid of the challenge of easing the throughput of human society back down within its limits–I think that can be done fairly easily and even with considerable benefit to the human quality of life.

— Donella Meadows

Quote: Money was invented (King)

Money was invented in order to get round the problems of trusting other individuals. But then the issue was — could you trust the person issuing the money? So the state became the natural issuer of money. And then the question is, can we trust the state? And in many ways that’s a question about whether we can trust ourselves in the future.

— Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England

Quoted in A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor, 2010, p. 465.

Quote: Watching a weather report (Polli)

Anticipation is the transformation of what we are able to see about the future into action. Watching a weather forecast is not anticipation. Watching a weather forecast and, as a consequence, taking your umbrella before going to work is anticipatory behavior.

— Roberto Polli, UNESCO Chair in Anticipation Studies, University of Trento, Italy, Jan 2017

In this video: Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century


Quote: A branching stream of probabilities (Musk)

I look at the future from the standpoint of probabilities. It’s like a branching stream of probabilities. And there are actions that we can take that affect those probabilities, that accelerate one thing, or slow down another thing, [or] introduce something new into the probability stream.

— Elon Musk, TED interview, April 2017

Quote: I just don’t do positive and negative (Sterling)

As a futurist, I just don’t do “positive” and “negative”. I actively avoid that kind of value judgment. Wishful thinking and fearful thinking gets in the way of an objective understanding of change-drivers.

Change occurs from pent-up energies: it’s like asking if a battery’s voltage is “good” or “bad.” All potential change has positive or negative potential: otherwise it isn’t even “potential.”

— Bruce Sterling, interview with Jon Lebkowsky, 2016