Future Day: Five Observances

Today we celebrate a brand-new holiday: Future Day. Brainchild of AI genius and futurist Ben Goertzel, who points out that most (if not all) existing holidays are rooted in the past, Future Day gives us a chance to look ahead.

So how do we celebrate a new holiday?When I mentioned that today is a holiday my two-year-old insisted on getting out the Santa hats, which we normally don when opening Christmas presents.  I doubt Santa hats will stick as a tradition, but I do like the idea of future-day hats. Some kind of space helmet, perhaps?

Most of the celebrations that have been planned are some kind of party — which of course is always a good way to celebrate anything. But holidays call for traditions; so here we have this unusual opportunity to start some traditions. I’ve got a few ideas. Let’s see if any of these stick.

1. Set aside a time to discuss your hopes and dreams for the future. On Thanksgiving, many families go around the table and have each person say something they’re thankful for. A good Future Day twist on this idea is to go around and have everyone say what they’re looking forward to.

2. Plan a future feast. When you sit down to enjoy your Future Day dinner, take a moment to observe what you’re enjoying that would not have been available a century (or even a decade) ago. Then describe what your meal will include a few years from now that is not currently available: vat meat, hydroponic veggies grown in your own home, food with edible packaging, etc.

3. Set a Future Day Goal. Distinct from a New Year’s resolution, a Future Day goal should define a particular outcome (rather than a behavioral / attitudinal  change) that you will achieve within a particular time frame. For example:

By Future Day 2013, I will have a body fat percentage of less than 10%.
By Future Day 2015, I will be able to play Rhapsody in Blue on the piano from memory.
By Future Day 2020, I will outsource all housework to a robot even if I have to build the damn thing myself.

4. Write a letter to your future self. I recently got a message from Phil Bowermaster ca. five years ago. Even though I remember that period in my life quite distinctly, it’s amazing how much things have changed over those five years. (I work in a different job and have three more children than I did then.) Futureme.org makes it easy to send messages from the present day into the future. You should try it. It’s a real eye-opener.

5. Write a letter from your future self. This exercise is an extension of the one Larry Stybel  outlined at the end of the podcast we replayed yesterday. Rather than just imagining your future circumstances, assume the persona of your future self and let that person tell your present self all about the life you are going to be living 5, 10, 20 years from now. This would actually be a good activity to combine with number 4. Send your letter from your future self to your future self. Let future you decide how well you looked ahead, and what kind of use you made of the intervening time.

These are a few of the possibilities. We discuss more on this week’s special Future Day edition of FastForward Radio.


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