The future and theories of everything


Earlier this week I was fortunate to go along to an invitation-only FutureCommons meeting at The Institute for the Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto. IFTF is one of the earliest futures think-tanks, being founded in 1968, and having produced 10-year forecasts every year since 1978. Their blog provides some insight into their work. The FutureCommons group endeavors to take the IFTF more into an “open source” thinking space. At the meeting Rudy Rucker spoke about his new book The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul, which examines the idea that the universe consists of cellular automata, in other words that it is a computation. His work is related to that of Stephen Wolfram, who wrote on similar themes in his highly influential book A New Kind of Science. It was a delight to meet Rudy. Back in my late teens I read two of his early books, Infinity and the Mind, and White Light, a fictional account of passing through the different levels of infinity, which were well-aligned with my state of mind at the time. The omnivorous Jerry Michalski then facilitated a discussion on theories of everything, ranging across thinkers including David Bohm, Edward O. Wilson, Ken Wilbur, The Dalai Lama, and far more. Unquestionably, there is much to learn in the pragmatic, specific present from thinking about everything.