The future is stranger because you think

Written by Stuart Haden on January 25, 2022

The future is stranger than you think. Not quite. The future is stranger because you think. I’ve always been fascinated with my inability to perceive the future. No matter how hard I try, I can only get so far. Which is often not far enough, and then I give up. But when I was reading The Future is Faster than you Think by Diamandis and Kotler I began to understand why.

In fairness they eased me in, noting “it’s not easy for any of us”. Quoting fMRI studies, describing that when we project ourselves into the future something peculiar happens – our medial prefrontal cortex shuts down. This is the part of the brain that activates when we think about ourselves. Furthermore, when we think about other people it deactivates.

But here’s how it gets stranger (pun intended). If we think about absolute strangers, it deactivates even more. So if we try and think about our future self, even if it’s in a broader context we don’t get excited. We shut down, “meaning the brain treats the person we’re going to become as a stranger.” Of course the further into the future you try and project the stranger you become.