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CUC2022: Otvaranje u zatvorenom svijetu - postdigitalna znanost i obrazovanje / CUC2022: Opening up in a closed world - postdigital science and education

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Futures Studies in the Postdigital Multiverse

The contested notion of the postdigital, and by extension postdigital research, has come to be informed by futures studies and futures thinking, if only indirectly. This presentation submits that we can better understand the postdigital if we deliberately marry it with futures studies and its attendant frameworks. Futures studies, broadly speaking, provides a window into asking and answering the following: what is probable; what is possible; and what is preferable. The answers we land on to each of these is informed by an appeal to ethics, and in turn can help to inform what we mean by the postdigital and how the postdigital functions as a way of conceiving of multiple futures. Additionally, futures studies allows us to engage in prefactual thinking, wherein we imagine futures without knowing all of the facts on how to get there. This type of conceptualizing invites the work of science fiction, which, I argue, is vital to engaging in futures thinking as well as a way to engage with the postdigital. In this way, this presentation takes seriously the notion of the multiverse, the idea that ours is but one of many possible universes, popularized in contemporary popular culture by Dr. Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and theorized most famously by David K. Lewis’ work on multiple worlds. A multiversal lens provides the creative freedom for us to answer what is probable, possible, and preferable – existing simultaneously – as we consider what it means to navigate the postdigital. Indeed, the postdigital multiverse can be thought of as a sort of quantum system, in which researchers and scholars attempt to calculate the probability that one or another future may prevail at a given point in time and space. Of course, as with Dr. Strange and David K. Lewis, it is less a matter of being accurate in our anticipation of this or that future and more about its ethical implications. For if we are willing to engage with the postdigital, we have to also be willing to think up – and participate in – a multiverse that imagines scenarios for which it may not have many answers.

David W. Kupferman
Minnesota State University Moorhead, Minnesota, USA

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