Future/4FFFF

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The Future-Forming Fundamental Factors, or 4FFFF, are the basic building blocks that constitute changes in the future. Everything that society will adopt as its own will have to satisfy at least one of these factors; the more of them that are satisfied and the more each of them are satisfied, the more acceptable the new technology will be to the general public.


1. Fast[edit]

Things are becoming faster and faster. Civilization started with the most basic agricultural implements, before domesticating the oxen, introducing stronger tools, and then creating tractors, each of which hasten the pace of farming. Likewise, construction of goods was first done by hand, before its conversion to the spinning jenny and later the introduction of the factory helped to propel industrial construction forward. Then enter Ford's assembly line, which ushered in the modern era. In the field of transportation, we started on foot, then on chariots and carriages, then on horseback, then by ship, steam engine, train, car, airplane, jetplane, rockets... In informational exchange, we had scribes; then we had the printing press and lately the internet has grown as never before. Communication sped up with couriers on horseback, then the telegram, the telephone, television, and computers. Capturing images was first sketched and painted; now photography and motion pictures have taken its place for most utilitarian purposes. Things are being made faster and used faster; people are getting things done faster and getting to places faster. This trend is everywhere, and will continue as people continually strive to become faster.

Fast-ness is something that knows no limits but what humanity is ingenious enough to devise. In the future, then, we can be sure that speeds will continue to increase. We will also note that by speed we do not mean simply that the velocity of movement is increasing; more often, it is the speed at which something is performed which matters the most, as the industrial revolution and the factory system have shown beyond doubt. In the future, the ability to produce will become far greater, and yet its importance will remain in the foreground. Even though we are getting faster and faster, and tasks are being completed faster and faster, yet there is always more to do; we do not remain idle but drive ourselves to strive for more; therefore, there will continually be more changes to this respect that will propel the speeds of the world around us.


2. Forceful[edit]

For humanity, fast isn't good enough. This is because oftentimes speeding something up does not change the quality of the product, and in terms of the power of humanity's new brainchild, forcefulness is therefore one facet that we cannot readily eclipse by speed. There are examples enough; each introduction opens a new level of force. We started with our fists, before proceeding to clubs, maces, and swords; we also had the bow, which evolved into the gun and artillery; machine guns led to tanks, and trenches led to poison gas while forests led to flamethrowers; out at sea we had galleys, then galleons; cruisers, then carriers; above us flew the zepplins, the airplanes, and the jet planes, before entering the space age with rockets; when we looked back upon the earth there was Hiroshima. Back at home, threats of biological warfare had begun to spread; we were no longer so sure of our own safety; our capacity to destroy life and to build skyscrapers, to create massive governments and to crush resistance movements, has increased every year. Who is to say that this is not to continue? For as long as we have existed, even the billions of years before that, the forcefulness of life has always resulted in competition, and will forever result in competition. In order to survive in a perpetual conflict--both wartime and peacetime--we must always strive to adopt new technologies, to remain a step ahead and forcing everyone else to once again outstrip us in technological development. This is a trend that will continue, something to which everyone strives for.


3. Functional[edit]

It was never enough for something to be fast and forceful. It also had to be functional--the ability to do what it set out to do. There are so many niches for objects to fill in our society, such as clothing, glues, books, houses... the list goes on and on. You could barely call them "fast" nor "forceful", but they are nevertheless being used worldwide, and the only reason is because they are functional--they did what people needed something in the world to do, and thereby gained humanity's favor. The issue with functionality is that the niches change; whereas before we needed clothing, now we also need bulletproof vests, arctic gear, and swimming suits; where once we needed nails, now we need book binds, glues, and elastic bands; where once houses were adequate, now we need business offices, hotels, and garages. Not only does the list of niches continue to expand due to previous developments in technology, but also some of the niches which we once needed filled have been eradicated, replaced altogether by something filling a "higher" niche that erased the need for "lower" ones. For example, where once we needed scribes, now we have printing presses, thereby obliterating the demand for scribes. This brings the case in point: functionality depends on the demand of civilization--the society as a whole and the wishes of individual consumers--for the product. And as the niches change, so do the ways in which we devise solutions to fill those niches, whether they be discoveries, innovations, or inventions.


4. Flexible[edit]

Increasingly, things need to be flexible in order to be truly useful. Why adopt a technology that covers three facets if there is another technology covers ten? Of course, the functionality and the supply influence the answer, but generally technology advances so as to reduce the prices of whatever is most promising, thereby making it even more promising. As a result, flexibility is a significant factor in making something accepted. For example, the computer and internet are both extremely flexible devices that mankind has developed. The computer has since its creation been used for decryption, encryption, data processing, calculations, word processing, graphics design, entertainment, and much, much more. The internet has in the last few decades seen such a great boom in its use that it has spread to blogs, emails, web pages, wikis, global connectivity, chat rooms, multiplayer games, and marketing. Other enormously flexible instruments are houses, cars, and televisions. The tremendous flexibility of these things mean that they are very likely here to stay; few inventions in the future can hope to surpass them in versatility, which in many cases is the greatest factor of all in designing the future.


So here we have them: the four great factors that will determine the direction toward which the future is headed. We shall see them recur throughout the predictions that we make; much of technological progress involves increasing the yield of these four qualities.