Four Key Questions

Answers to four frequently asked questions

1. What methods does the Matthias Horx use?

I have been working with future research for many years as an interdisciplinary knowledge discourse. We call that HOLISTIC PROGNOSTICS. The future is so complex that we can only grasp it with DIVERSE perspectives. Therefore, in the Future Institute we work with very many different disciplines: systems theory, game theory, probabilistic and evolutionary theory, but also cognitive psychology, socio-economics, even philosophy.

Oh, and with humour!

What has humour got to do with the future? Quite simply, only those who have humour can keep two contradictory truths in their minds at the same time, without losing their mind. The future is the result of creative paradoxes…

Is what we try scientific? Specialised scientists will condemn any attempt at inter-disciplinary thinking as unscientific. But it is the very narrowing that is the crux of their problem: economists no longer understand their own discipline, nor the bankers their trade, nor the car companies their own future. In holistic forecasting it is therefore important to build bridges between disciplines, to reflect the economical in the social, the technological in psychological, the detail in the system, the innovation in HUMANUM…

2. How many times have you been wrong?

Futurologists can be wrong sometimes. Me too. But it depends on HOW you err. And many things that seem to be wrong can suddenly appear quite different. See my column Meine Zukunfts-Irrtümer (in German).

3. How do you see your role as a futurist?

I see myself as a provocateur of the mind offering unusual future narratives that go beyond clichés. It’s about inspiration, about positive irritation that changes something in the MIND…

4. Can one EVER predict the future?

If you could accurately predict the future in every detail, it would be as boring as last year’s weather forecast. That’s what Gerd Gigerenzer said, the well-known cognitive scientist, who thus named the first prognostic paradox: “easily predictable future is boring and therefore not noticed as the future!”.

But still: Amazingly many processes or phenomena are predictable – and especially those which one would not have thought of. Did you know what you can predict pretty well? The future of marriages and relationships! The American couples’-therapists Mr and Mrs Gottman have developed a test that, with 90 percent confidence, predicts whether a couple will be together in five years. It is not surprising that there is no demand for this test. This illustrates the first futuristic repression rule or the second prognostic paradox: No one wants to know futures that disappoint our expectations of continuity or that demand self-change!