1 August 2020, by Anton Keet

After several years of thinking about the future, thinking about techniques for thinking about the future and implementing personal strategies to navigate these futures, it has come to this: a semi-regular thought piece about aspects of the future that I find interesting and compelling enough to dedicate some energy to sharing with the world at large. I hope to inform others’ thoughts about foreseeable futures and vice versa and, hopefully by doing so, we can prod each other’s perspectives into new and interesting directions.

Footnotes will get the boot

Each Post-dated Check column is intended to be a foresight-driven view on aspects of the worlds we inhabit or experience, the societies and communities we traverse and the possibly emerging considerations for ongoing scenario development. Having a propensity for the use of low-brow language within my thought formation and, as some have alleged, a somewhat subversive sense of humour, I’m not promising any meaningful academic discourse with footnotes and references. If you’re on the lookout for in depth research and referral matter, please wait for my doctoral thesis which should materialise in the next decade at a dodgy online university near you…. My aim is to be brief and to make sweeping statements based on a lasseiz-faire scanning of the environment with no discernable scientific basis or approach. And so, with that disclaimer, on with the show!

Why Post-dated check?

Yes, it’s a play on words. For those of us who are not as accustomed to the American version of the English language, the word “check” is broadly understood to mean “cheque” in the context of post-datedness. Post-dated cheques are in some respects quite similar to the works of futurists – they are the vague promise of value to be realised in the future but, until that time comes, one can only with varying degrees of certainty bank on what they say! The concept of checking is antithetical to the concept of the future, though. How do we check the future when the future hasn’t arrived yet? The contradiction between post-dating something with an inherent acceptance that the future will arrive and the retrospective nature of being able to “check” a given state of affairs is something I find appealing and, in many ways, symbolizes what a futurist’s endeavours amount to. And thusly, these thought pieces shall henceforth be titled the “Post-dated Check”. I hope you enjoy them.

Shopping for Complexity

These are the days where we are incentivized through media of all sorts and sizes to view an ongoing flow of superficial bits of information and then move on, swiftly, to the next byte-sized vignette for our personal consumption and pleasure. While the reasons for these incentives are easy enough to identify, the challenge it creates is that through the lens of fast-moving but ultimately disposable information a superficially complex world develops through which the future does not easily beckon. The here and now seems complex enough under these conditions, not to speak of the future. What happens to the left, the right, above, below, behind and in front of the lens is lost while we gaze at the lens itself. Yet the roads to reliable futures lie in all of the dimensions that we are incentivized to ignore around this lens.

I hope to explore this broad theme of shopping for complexity and the possible effects it will have on the future as I write the first few Post-dated Checks. I don’t promise anyone will be able to bank on them but it does seem that the role of those of us inclined to a futurist way of thinking is often to have the ability to take a proverbial step to the left or right, away or towards the lens in front of us before navigating a path towards the future.

With all of this in mind, I say to you: onwards and upwards, good people of the internet. Or should that be sideways and forwards?

Anton Keet is a lawyer, investment manager and a futurist. He is a member of the NK International team.