Thinking the Future under the Influence of the Present: A Short History of the Future Anterior


This article is published in Futuribles journal no.443, juillet-août 2021

The Futuribles ‘Futures of Yesteryear’ feature exists to draw attention to past writing that has proved accurate (or, alternatively, wayward) in predicting the future. Quentin Scavardo’s article is a little different. Going back over what anticipations of the future — and, particularly, of the year 2000 — looked like in the four decades preceding that emblematic date, he stresses how the conditions of the time significantly influenced those predictions, which we can see to have been directly skewed by the events of that period. This article is taken from Scavardo’s master’s thesis Une histoire au futur antérieur: les peurs de l’an 2000 au XXe siècle [A History in the Future Anterior: Fears of the Year 2000 in the 20th century], work which, drawing on foresight studies, polls and media analysis, reveals the diverse range of viewpoints through utopian, dystopian and eschatological narratives, the latter speaking more of fears than of hopes. A lesson emerges here on the need for the foresight community, when working on issues with long time-scales, to take a broader view of contemporary problems and to remember, in a period characterized by so much uncertainty and anxiety, that the worst outcomes do not inevitably eventuate.
#An 2000 #Rétroprospective