Where do we go from here? An interview with Anthony (Tony) Hodgson

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

These are very turbulent and, in so many ways, unprecedented, pivotal times, when old paradigms sink and new paradigms emerge, when new pathways become available, new horizons open up and we are faced with strategic choices. Some paths will bear fruits and others will be dead-ends; others may be disastrous.

Where do we go from here? To which paradigm do we hitch our wagon? How do we decide amidst all the spin, clichés and uncertainties? Or rather, how do we switch from a reactive mode to a reflective mode? And, finally, the most crucial question of all, which he has added to his LinkedIn profile: where is humanity at on a pathway of conscious evolution?

With decades of experience in strategy development and scenario planning for private businesses and public administrations under his belt, Anthony Hodgson, Director of Research and World Modelling Coordinator for the International Futures Forum, a think tank based in Scotland’s Fife, holds that we must have several futures in mind and cultivate future consciousness in people if our aim to be resilient.
This is because tomorrow won’t be like today and those who think otherwise produce foresight with little action and even less insight.

During his talk at the First International Conference on Anticipation, held in Trento in November 2015, Hodgson quoted a piece of advice from none other than David Bohm: “you must think faster than the horse or else you will go where the horse wants to go”.
The key is mindful anticipation: a system is resilient when it is capable of being ahead of itself.

While in Trento, he has been so kind as to share with us some of his insights and views.

Mr. Hodgson, would you like to explain to us what you mean by “anticipation”?
Authentic anticipation is something more intelligent than what we are doing right now. There is no established anticipatory governance whatsoever, and some traces of anticipation can only be found in commercial trading and the military which also raises the issue of the ethicality of its use

What is the systemic nature of anticipation?

In my model it is the capacity to discriminate information coming from the past from the information coming from the future and to act upon it in a way that privileges the move towards a desired future.

What do you mean by “information coming from the future”? Are you implying time travelling?

What I have in mind is illustrated by what was occurring at the time that Mendeleev was assembling his periodic table of the elements. He shut himself in a room for three days during which he reshuffled the elements with their symbols until the chart took a coherent shape. He was then able to predict that the missing pieces would be discovered in the following years. Those gaps were signals from the future of chemistry and atomic physics.
In point of fact, anticipation applied to scientific research would be a promising field of research. It could include more fringe investigations like Dean Radin’s “Entangled minds”.

He is definitely onto something.

Indeed, he is, and we should also mention physicist Richard Feynman’s concept of waves coming from the future, as well as anticipatory phenomena being revealed by quantum biology. For example, consider the recently identified protein in the cells of migratory birds (as for instance the European robin) which enables them to sense the inclinations of Earth’s magnetic field, guiding them like a compass needle on their lengthy migrations. Perhaps mindfulness, in human beings, serves to discriminate a kind of signal from the future and to translate it into action.

Aren’t you afraid that they will label you “new-agey”?

My research relies on the solid work of Robert Rosen. That is a stepping-stone, but I’ve been connecting the dots from other people’s work. The scientific literature on which I base my research is impressive. For example, it is not widely known that there is valid research on remote viewing of the future.

Are we on a mission to save the future?
If anything, we are on a mission to save a future and, as far as I am concerned, my aim is to create something in this field that it is useful and intelligible, especially for the younger generations, who are unavoidably bound to live through the turbulences of inevitable change us aging people are leaving them with.
I wish to be of assistance to their creating a future that I tend to summarize as “one planet living with social justice”.

Would that be the most desirable future?
There are many futures, but I want this, instead of the one in which we are plundering the planet of its resources.
It’s about values.
There are values and, consequently, such a thing as an underlying ethical motivation in my being interested in this perspective. We need to realise that ethics is not abstract. There are consequences.
It is a vital necessity.

Established institutions and vested interests are struggling to preserve the status quo: are anticipators inherently subversive?
They are subversive because systemically intelligent. It’s important not to be constrained by established orthodoxies imposed by people who simply don’t get it.
Our approach would appear to be unorthodox and iconoclastic, but only from the point of view of the establishment.

In the movie Tomorrowland, a projector of “gloom and doom” visions entrenched humanity into a suicidal state of fatalism, nihilism and cynicism, acting as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is this what is going on today?
To some extent.

What is resilience?
Plasticity equals resilience

Is there a direct link between resilience and anticipation?
I distinguish between adaptive resilience – e.g. the recovery from a disaster, such as a flooding – and resilience 2.0, or transformative resilience.
So if you ask me about resilience, I will first need to ask you what kind of resilience you are referring to.

What sort of resilience do we need the most?
In the Anthropocene adaptive resilience is not enough.
It is no longer a question of getting back to normal. Transformative resilience is the means by which we can ‘wormhole’ our way through a pocket of the future in the present and emerge at a higher stage of human civilization, after a positive shock and the reframing of our mindset.
What we need to learn is to help the old civilization to die and midwife the birth of the new one.

How do we do that?
Technological innovation alone won’t be enough to achieve that harmlessly, without a shock.
If you go with resilience 2.0 then you also need the more “spooky” kind of anticipation, that is, the one centred on retrocausality (unconventional assumptions about time), future consciousness (undivided universe or field of consciousness; internal visualisation), and future making, which assumes that the future can arise from authentic origination.

That is subversive on so many levels!
Sure. At that point you will be thought of as a subversive or a saviour depending on who is affected by your actions. After all, for those managing the current power structure, even anticipation 1.0 is too subversive!.

Why do experts fail in their predictions? What distinguishes an impressive prognosticator/anticipator?
We need the sort of moral courage mentioned by Ruth Levitas in her talk at Anticipation 2015. Impressive prognosticators are courageous and are also good at applying their skills to themselves in the first place.

Is a stoic predisposition – beyond fear and desire – the key to reliable anticipations?
It’s the gentle art of reperception: you can’t teach it through confrontation.
For in that way you would compress someone else’s consciousness instead of assisting in its expansion, which is really what the capacity of anticipation is all about.
At the end of the day, if you are not curious and demonstrate no yearning for knowledge, you will never become an impressive anticipator.

So why not call it wisdom and urge the establishment of a institution of councils of wise anticipators?
Wisdom is indeed ethical anticipation.

In order to deepen your understanding of this perspective you can contact Anthony (Tony) Hodgson by email at tony@decisionintegrity.co.uk or Roberto Poli (who has been his external examiner for his Ph.D. viva at Hull University) at roberto.poli@skopia.it

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