Adam Bulley attended our very first DISI in 2018, and we’re beyond excited that in September 2022, his first book came out. In this collaborative endeavor with Thomas Suddendorf and Jonathan Redshaw, Adam shares his knowledge about the peculiar human ability to imagine, think about, and plan for the world as it is yet to become.
The Invention of Tomorrow takes you on a guided tour through the origins and evolution of foresight, showing how it works, and how it shaped the planet as we currently know it. The book takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on insights from psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and history, to provide a comprehensive understanding of our fascinating ability to create future worlds in our mind’s eye.
Let’s have a sneak peek, shall we?
As we start reading, we find ourselves walking through the evolutionary origins of human creativity. Our journey starts tens of thousands of years ago with our early ancestors. They developed cognitive adaptations which made them thrive in a constantly changing environment. It is argued that the ability to imagine, plan and create new things is not unique to humans, but it is the most advanced in us, and that it has played a crucial role in our survival and success as a species.
The book then delves into the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie human creativity, exploring how our brains generate and process new ideas, and how these processes can be enhanced and trained. The book highlights the role of culture and the environment in shaping our creative potential, and how different cultures and societies have fostered different forms of creativity throughout history.
One of the most thought provoking aspect of the book, we’d say, is its examination of the impact of our foresight on the world today. The human ability to create and innovate has led to unprecedented technological and societal advancements (who doesn’t love their smartphone’s ability to suggest more great music to listen to), but also to unintended consequences, such as environmental degradation and social inequality. This leaves us and the authors thinking about what our imagination of the future can mean for the actual future of our society, and the planet as a whole.
We obviously highly encourage everyone interested in the origins, evolution and mechanics of imagination to get their hands on Adam and colleagues’ new book The Invention of Tomorrow. If you’ve already done so, let us (and thereby Adam) know what you think!