What is the memory of the future? It is the memory that projects us into the future. This prospective memory has the particularity of needing information acquired in the past or the present - which amounts to the same thing - so that we can imagine hypotheses about probable futures. For many years, however, the future has been content with incremental progress. Most of us have not been trained to do this in a context of breakdowns. Today, they are everywhere, economic, technological, cultural ruptures... A new vigilance is required if we do not want our emotions to block the horizon.
An anatomical fact with emotional consequences...
Our brains have been shaped in the past as we learn. Self-taught by nature, it knows how to evolve on its own, whether we like it or not. Neurons link together and learn to activate themselves automatically, creating strong cognitive routines. Learning is done by associating knowledge and context, recognizing your baker in the metro is much less easy than in the bakery! During periods of strong change - environmental - technological - collaborative accompanied by their procession of economic and social instability, each person will experience emotions in reference to "what is inside" and how they perceive the context. Their limited knowledge makes them vulnerable to manipulation by those who have an interest in playing on their fears in order to gain power.
A more or less "muscular" prospective memory
We all have a memory of the future. It can be backed up by an agenda, knowing what I'm doing tomorrow, next week, etc. It is at work when we buy a house - ready-made for those who are unsure of the talents of their imagination, from a developer's plans for those with more experience, with an architect for the intrepid imaginative, able to see themselves living in a space that does not yet exist. Every person in the heat of the moment is subject to his or her cognitive routines, and it is because of this that he or she is able to react to the quarter turn. But it is also because of them that they may lack imagination. When we want to change course, to stimulate innovation, to invent new models, we need to "feed" our brains with elements so that we can develop a vision, an intention that makes sense in the changing context. The memory of the future becomes strategic.
Innovating, transforming, requires the ability to doubt, but also perceptive openness and emotional security.
In professional life, the expert uses his memory to make predictions of results. Starting from the "if, then" problem, he operates a mnemonic recall of the different situations encountered in order to make hypotheses. In the course of their research work, CHABRIS & SIMONS demonstrate that experts know better than non-experts how to doubt their hypotheses. They are often very sure of themselves. The paradox that appears in these studies is that the less we know, the more we think we know. Experts in a field know that they can be wrong, because they know that their competence is evolutionary, they have learned to link new information with their integrated knowledge. In changing contexts, the impression of knowing is an illusion that can be costly. Opening up perceptions before projecting oneself into the future is a cognitive and emotional necessity. For he who has no vision has the choice between denying his ignorance, or fear and anger in reaction to difficulties he has not anticipated. Today ruptures of all kinds confront those who have not understood the many unproductive emotional disturbances that the subject without perspectives experiences. If I consider the future from an egocentric point of view, entangled in the remnants of the past, without evolutionary movement, I risk living only losses. Then nostalgia takes over intelligence.
The Paradox of the Information Age
The paradox of our time is that there has never been so much information available while we have to rediscover our ignorance. Ignorance of the functioning of our brain, technological advances, new technologies... discoveries of all kinds that will transform our societies. For information to be useful for vision, we need to work on appropriating it and putting it into perspective. The illusion of effortless knowledge through easy access to information is a dangerous illusion. We have come from an era of overvaluing knowledge acquired academically, we are entering an era of openness to discovering what we do not know. The neurosciences in the first place attest to the extent of this. So, at least in companies, let us become explorers in order to uncover new territories and let us help each employee to build his or her memory of the future in a dynamic and motivating way.