Thinking about thinking about the future

We weave our memories together on demand, filling in any empty spaces with the present, which is lying around in great abundance. In Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psych prof Daniel Gilbert describes an experiment in which people with delicious lunches in front of them are asked to remember their breakfast: overwhelmingly, the people with good lunches have more positive memories of breakfast than those who have bad lunches. We don’t remember breakfast — we look at lunch and superimpose it on breakfast.

We make the future in the same way: we extrapolate as much as we can, and whenever we run out of imagination, we just shovel the present into the holes. That’s why our pictures of the future always seem to resemble the present, only more so.

Cory Doctorow,  Content:  Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future, p40. My emphasis.