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1,499,769 Ways of Writing the Future

by Francisco Santolo
March 2020

In just 60 years, between 1789 and 1848, we coined the following terms:

Nationality, scientist, economic crisis, sociology, journalism, capitalism, aristocracy, ideology, middle class, working class, industry, engineer, statistics, and strike - Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution.

Can you imagine the narrative of our lives – past, present, and future – without them or their derivatives?

Well, they are only 231 years old.

To add some perspective, the oldest remains of the Homo sapiens – our species – go 315,000 years back. The other human species of the Homo gender, which were killed by ours, lived for approximately 1,500,000 years – yes, one and a half million years-.

Aside from diverting to an economic, social, or political debate around these words, let me reinforce one point and briefly reflect on it:

We lived for at least 1,499,769 years without those concepts or social constructs that nowadays helps us describe our reality and organize ourselves within society.

In his book, Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, states "From animals to gods, it describes that everything that distinguishes us and eventually made us 'impose' ourselves before other species, is the possibility of coordinating and intentionally work jointly towards a goal". But the most interesting part is where he explains what gives us that virtue: it is our ability to talk about the non-existent, the abstract.

When conveying the vision of the desired future and stating with “certainty” or credibility that certain actions will lead us to such future, we influence our peers and obtain their support, their work, their resources, and even their sacrifice.

But to begin to describe the non-existent, we need words, new words. The highlighted words and their derivatives presented in this article, which today explain and make it possible to widely project our reality, appeared only 231 years ago.

I insist, there are endless possible lives, unlimited social constructions, and ways of co-existing, as many as our words can define or allow us to dream of.

With all the positive things generated by our species, despite 315,000 years of being endlessly cruel and choosing to impose ourselves before diversity, for the first time, the future opens its doors to the impossible: exponential technologies, instant communications, horizontal generation and consumption of knowledge, and an individual as influential and powerful as never before, driven by communities.
So, from the leading role that we are playing today, I wonder: with which words will we write the future?

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