What Star Trek and Black Panther taught me about foresight and vision

One of the greatest skills that anyone can develop is the ability to look into the future while living in the present. Foresight has benefits in so many ways – from planning life goals to determining the best way to invest savings and it even bleeds into our careers, whether you’re selling products or planning a marketing campaign you must be able to paint a picture prettier than reality.

Foresight comes in so many forms, but they all stem from the ability to create a vision in your head and figure out ways to fulfill that vision. There doesn’t exist a technology today that wasn’t thought up by someone with great foresight and an ability to see their technology existing in the future.

Each and every one of us is born with a beta version of foresight – it’s called an imagination. We spend our childhoods immersed in worlds that are slightly removed from reality – dreaming that we’re saving the planet (our neighborhood) from criminals and wielding weapons never before seen. To a child, reality seems like a piece of moldable clay.

This is why I respect people like Octavia Butler so much. She, like so many other science fiction writers, was a dreamer until the day she died – developing these futuristic worlds that seemed just within reach. She’s cut from the same cloth as Steve Jobs. Both of them are brave enough to imagine beyond the present boundaries and sculpt the reality of the near future.

In Octavia’s science fiction lineage is Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek – a show that taught an entire generation to think beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. More importantly, in creating these futuristic visions, Gene happened upon technology concepts that would inspire other creatives to build the future.

Some 50 years later, the XPRIZE Foundation took a vision from Star Trek – the tricorder device – and created plans to bring it into reality. In partnership with Qualcomm, they put up a $10 million prize for anyone who could create a Star Trek-inspired Tricorder – a medical device so simple and powerful that would change the way we diagnose patients. This exciting challenge brought thousands of creators out of the woodwork to build a better future.

Foresight is a right we, as human beings, are all allowed access to no matter our race or ethnicity. This is why Black Panther was such a groundbreaking film last year because it subtly taught so many young people of color to imagine futures where people who looked like them were heavily involved and in control – a vision that is rarely seen in modern media.

Black Panther is in the same class as Star Trek when it comes to the cultural impact it will have in the decades following its release. Not only did it bring Afrofuturism into visions of our collective future, but it will also inspire futuristic technology we won’t be able to build for another few decades.

Personally, Ryan Coogler’s visual rendition of Black Panther inspired me to own my identity as an Afrofuturist. That film, alongside the paramount work by Octavia Butler, sparked an interest in me to explore Afrofuturism, so much so, that I created an entire keynote presentation detailing the rich history and fruitful presence of Afrofuturism, which you can see for yourself below:

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What caught my attention this week – 03.15.19

What caught my attention this week – 03.15.19