2 min read

What happens next?

When people ask me, "What's going to happen?" and I admit, "I don't know!" sometimes I wonder: have I gone soft? Am I even trying?

I could make up stories, sure. But even if those stories tended to be more accurate than the ones other people tell, I can't believe any reality to them beyond the reality of a story.

I used to be concerned about the question: what happens when computers can model us better than we can model ourselves? Or when they can predict us before we are even aware of ourselves.

It felt as if being predictable would reduce my humanity. Probably because I felt my selfhood defined by its exterior. (Being driven to perform and accomplish seems to do that.)

But it's not that having an interiority makes prediction more difficult--it makes it less meaningful. Relationship with one's interior cannot be mediated, even by correct predictions.

Put another way: if I were really good at telling you about yourself, would you stop having your own experience and take my word for it? The accuracy of what I say might be convincing enough for you to try new things (and can be a useful tool in a therapy relationship) but you are always, and always will be, the only one in direct contact with your own internal experience.

So when I'm asked to make predictions of the world, how am I to respond? I cannot even know my own self in full, much less the entire world! But beyond that, what is the act of prediction for?

Almost every time someone asks me to tell them something about the future and I manage to ask why they want to know (rather than get yoinked by my own arrogance--"Why yes! I am a source of information on the mysteries of the universe!"), the question turns out to be motivated by fear.

People who are feeling secure and at peace do not fixate on asking what will happen next. Or, when they do ask, the question has a very different flavor of creativity and wonder. It is not interested in truth or certainty so much as the stuff of dreams.

What does a society fixated on the question "What happens next?" produce?

Ha! I, too, stumble into asking things about the future.

Rather: what questions do I ask instead, to contribute to the world without being driven by my fears?

It certainly doesn't sound as intellectual, but what if I ask the question:

What is here, now?