X-Men Days of Future Past
The new X-Men film “Days of Future Past” is another example of how our fascination with new technology and its delightful benefits is juxtaposed against our fear that perhaps technology will make us largely redundant, which when combined with our own sense of inadequacy may result in feelings of irrelevance as we watch the dawn of a new world. X-Men and many sci-fi films portray a future that is run by machines and posing the thought that mankind becomes the servant to the machine, not its master. The advent of artificial intelligence (A.I) has been repeatedly explored in film and literature, now of course we are seeing the start of surveillance systems (drones) that for many will be alarming and unwelcome. However, you don’t need to look out of your window; A.I is here in the palm of your hand, desktop or laptop. The new film, like many before it invokes the option of time travel to alter the past so that the present (future) is not as bleak.
Time travel is a wonderful device to move a story along to pose various scenarios, all of course offering up a different version of the present (or future) depending upon where you are in the great time continuum. There are many religious themes and ideas also developed – messages from the past for the future or predictions of great calamity and final judgement.
I wonder how often you have caught yourself asking “if only…” Personally, I find “if only” a negative way of viewing my experiences, which I believe to be lessons for development and growth (if we chose to learn from them). Unlike the fiction writer we cannot change the past, but we do have an unwritten future (unless you are a fatalist). Knowing the future is not all its cracked up to be. Sure it may help to know which investments to buy, when to sell, but life would be pretty dull if we knew what was going to happen (or is that just me?).
What if? What if your future could be altered?
Planning for the future is not the same as knowing it. One of the really helpful tools I use with clients is a “What if?” scenario. I use this to model different possible scenarios, based upon different assumptions and actions. This is incredibly empowering for clients, who can visually see the impact of their actions and how this creates either freedom or restriction. This is my own version of time travel, but not based on changing the past, but changing the future.
The real X-Men (and women)
So I was intrigued by an organisation called X-Prize that hopes to change the future. Perhaps you have heard of it. In essence it seeks to offer very large financial incentives to those that can produce solutions to many of the world’s problems. Sadly there is not yet one for decent financial advice! But there are many that explore sustainability and improvement of community. The ambitions of X-Prize are world changing (for the better), so I wonder, what incentive do you really need to design a better future for yourself? We have the technology…isn’t it time you had a look?
Dominic Thomas: Solomons