Sciency Words: Futurism

Sciency Words MATH

Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:


Sometimes I think I know what a word means, only to discover that it has a second definition. Such is the case with futurism.

Previously, I only know about futurism the art style, which dates back to the early 20th Century. It was an art movement obsessed with the latest cutting edge technology. You know, cutting edge technology like aeroplanes and automobiles. That version of futurism is now, ironically, just another part of art history.

Whenever I’ve seen or heard the word futurism, I’ve mistakenly assumed that it harkens back to that early, avant-garde art movement. And when you think you already know what a word means, you don’t feel much need to grab a dictionary and investigate further.

But it turns out that there’s a different kind of futurism (sometimes called futurology) which straddles the line between art and science. I only found out about this other futurism from a recent episode of Writing Excuses (the best podcast for writers… ever!)

The Writing Excuses crew interviewed Trina Marie Phillips, a professional futurist. Her job is to look at the current trends in science and technology and try to extrapolate what might happen over the next 10, 20, or 30-plus years. Fortune 500 companies pay her to help them prepare for the technological advancements that are coming in the near future.

My favorite part of this: professional futurists like Phillips use storytelling—as in science fiction stories—to illustrate to their clients how new technology might affect their customers, or their business models, or the global economy in general. Truly, this is where science meets fiction.

P.S.: I get the sense that futurism is a deep, deep rabbit hole. I have not researched this subject as thoroughly as I probably should have for today’s post, but I was so excited about this that I had to share.

5 thoughts on “Sciency Words: Futurism

  1. Great read. I’m trying to write a novel based on the future. Trying to imagine what it might mean for the human race and whether or not we would potentially lose our ‘humanity’. Will have to check out Trina Marie Phillips’ works. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found this useful. One of the things I love about these kinds of stories–where we lose our humanity or are struggling to regain it–is that they get to the heart of a much deeper question. What does it mean to be human in the first place?


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