I often feel there's not enough thought put by mankind as a whole into envisioning the future. On closer look though that's not true. Most act of gazing into future just isn't what I hope it's like.
Is the act of visualizing the future even useful? It's far from clear. On one hand if you cannot see a specific sense of the future you most probably cannot make it happen. On the other the outcome of your attempt is highly dependent on unfolding of events outside of your control.
It might be useful to unpack the act of future-gazing into categories of modes.
The most mainstream mode of futurizing is projection. This is when anytime a prediction is made or money is invested.
What-if is about wishful-thinking, making variable-tweaks and examine what happens.
Wanting is about utopia; a demand for a very specific outcome.
The entire premise of wanting starts from the desired outcome. It's typical to have relatively little thoughts are put into the nuances of how to get there. Utopia says more about the current state of affair more than the future.
The 20th century has taught mankind to be cautious of utopian thinking. But it seems under the right set of conditions this tends to come back in fashion. The people longing for utopias aren't necessarily aware that they are.
Projections is the domain of capitalists. There exist a small hint of idealism but most of it is dominated by the notion of reading tea leaves and responding to it. This is where realists plant their flags.
Where wanting is spiritual, what-if is aspirational but grounded. There is more willingness to explore the impossible and stretching the imagination, but without skin in the game to be taken seriously like capitalists.
What-if is not hung up about outcomes and more interested in opportunities. It's very comfortable in exploring a multiverse of outcomes, where wanting wants to make sure only the one acceptable universe remains.
Very little argument is needed for projections, partly because there's only so far it can see and it's not burdened with idealism.
What-if and wanting are about seeing much further. The art is in letting how much value systems drive the future gazing.
I've managed only to compartmentalize these few modes but there are many questions still unexplored here.
How much did people in the value-system business (Confucious/Mengcious) engage in future-gazing? If they did was it useful? If not should we even bother? It's unclear if role models in the past developed a clear sense of the far future and produced the outcome today.
There also exist a class called prophets. If the future you paint is appealing enough, people end up following you. Effectively futurism can be exploited to garner influence. How is sincere non-scammy prophecy best done? Or are all prophecies unethical across the board?
How do mixing these modes affect the quality of the futurizing?
Let's see if I get around to attempting to answer them some day.