Cristina Pozzi
Jun 25, 2024By Cristina Pozzi

Observing the present with a look from the future

A few days ago, I was asked a question, with an apparently trivial answer, but which gave me to think for a while.

It was the third question of a short digital interview that would introduce a speech by the philosopher Luciano Floridi at the IAB Forum. Now, you need to know, to really understand how I took the question, that I am an aspiring philosopher. More precisely, a few years ago I enrolled in a three-year degree to avoid giving myself superficial answers in the face of the challenges of our time and above all to ask myself the right questions.

I felt a bit like the Maneskin hired to warm up the audience before the Rolling Stones concert.

When I recovered, I continued to reflect on the fateful question.

Prof. Floridi after me, they told me, would have praised, and described a sort of XXI century vocabulary with truly impressive words and neologisms considering the research work behind the selection he would have proposed.

So, I was asked to indicate a word (only one!) To describe our time.

In short, a small thing.

As often happens when I start mulling over something, I used to think about it while pedaling to the office, while getting up for a break from my place at work, while having an aperitif with friends. And I started taking it very wide and thinking about words like freedom, futures, hope, work, hybrid, learning, democracy, decentralization, metaverse (which is now so fashionable), fraternity, crisis, deception, reality, conscience, responsibility, (obviously also “digital”, but I immediately regretted knowing who would come after me).

In the end, a few minutes before setting foot in the recording studio where the interview took place, I realized I had the solution in front of me.

Meanwhile, a small note, if the other words have also tickled your reflections, don’t worry, let’s not throw them away. They will find their place in the next newsletters.

But let’s get back to us. I decided: my word would be transepochal.

In 2019 my book Destination 2050 came out with BUP in which I enjoyed writing a sort of (was) tourist guide for those who suddenly find themselves living in the future starting today. At that time, I argued that a transepochal journey should have been undertaken, a journey through time between one era and another, which would have projected us into a new world. However, contrary to the approach of techno-optimists like Ray Kurzweil, the radical change in my opinion would not have been dictated by artificial intelligence technologies, which according to the definition of the concept of Technological Singularity, by then would have become so superior to the human being that make the world incomprehensible to us. Using the metaphor of Vernor Vinge, the inventor of this concept, which was deepened and disclosed by Kurzweil, it would be a world as incomprehensible to us as our civilization is for a goldfish.

If there is a singularity that will affect us between now and 2050, it is instead, in my opinion, a cultural singularity, and it is precisely what happens when a transepochal journey takes place.

The point is that our world is changing so fast and profoundly that we are confronted with a radically new reality, and this is happening because our paradigms are changing just as rapidly. Such a change often occurs when the way human beings communicate changes and transforms with the technologies we invent. Language, writing, printing, the network (outside of us), voice commands, thought commands (with neurotechnologies integrated into our bodies (???)). Human society is so deeply linked to the communication between its members and to our sense of identity that it changes profoundly with them and with these perspectives we can truly imagine radical changes in our near future.

But that’s not all, if in 2017/2018 when I was writing the book, I was thinking above all about this, today I cannot but add the effect of what is called a wild card in future studies: the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused us affected.

This is relevant for two reasons: the most evident is that it creates a space of change, a vortex that suddenly disturbs the already choppy waters of the sea in which we are traveling. The second reason is that if we go to see how we are dealing with it, it is evident that we have already entered the new era. Start from here.

Epidemics and pandemics are constant in the history of humanity.

We could spend seas of words to show that great human upheavals have always been dictated by natural factors such as the struggle for resources, climate change and disease. If we want to look back, we will notice how the pandemic usually arrives and brings with it some consequences: famine, often linked to the lack of people who work the land, total breakdown of relations, blocking of businesses, jobs stop, school it is closed, tension on the health system and, in the worst epidemics, on that of burials. Another constant is that public opinion tends to look for a scapegoat, a certain human type who would be the greaser to bear the responsibility of an inexplicable tragedy.

It is true. At a quick glance all these things repeated themselves in 2020 as if they were following a macabre script. If we look closer, however, there have been enormous differences compared to the past. There was no famine, many were able to continue working in a previously unthinkable dimension, from home via the internet. The school did not stop and even if it did not live up to its normal performance, the effects we feel and will suffer are less bad than those we would have seen with a total stop. Not to mention the reaction speed that we have been able to put on track globally with research, analyzes using artificial intelligence algorithms, forecasts on the evolution and movement of the virus and many other answers that we have not been able to put on track. they were never seen before.

We are therefore here, in a new phase of humanity, digital, characterized by technologies that we call intelligent, which seems to be moving towards an intelligent use of the resources that nature offers us.

Let’s go back for a moment to our two reflections related to the pandemic. We were saying that there is also something that has messed up the cards: with what effects? On the one hand, some trends have undergone a great acceleration, others have slowed down, and still others have arisen having been made possible by the new conditions. Everyone agrees on this analysis. The temptation to think about things as they are today and as they will be with the models of the past remains strong and somehow therefore reassures us to think that the impacts can be explained by accelerations and slowdowns. But we risk looking at things in the wrong way because we do not consider what has been highlighted above, of that transepochal passage that is interesting to us and that is why this word is so central to me. Being aware of this allows us to look at things differently.

To explain the concept, we can take an example that is very fashionable these days.

Someone better than me at thinking words with effect thought of calling it The Great Resignation. It is a question of the fact that since the pandemic hit us, millions of people have voluntarily resigned from their jobs to change their lives, seek new rhythms and new balances. This happens in the USA, China, Europe and mainly affects people between 25 and 40 years old.

This trend is certainly not temporary, it is not a novelty that arose as a reaction to the pandemic and lockdowns, it is something much deeper, it is one of the great paradigms shifts in our society that occur in transepochal journey.

To get an idea, we can add two other phenomena to our analysis that allow us to look at the topic from a broader point of view.

The Tang Ping revolution in China

Tang Ping a philosophy that has been spreading even before the pandemic among young people in China which, also as a form of freedom from state control, focuses on a model of frugal life. Those who follow this philosophy rebel against the race for production and consumption, against the idea of progress and dedication to work at all costs as tools for living a fulfilling life.

Protests against big tech companies

For some years now, employees of companies such as Google or Amazon have been striking or taking to the streets to demand a company value alignment and a more sustainable approach to the market (as well as, when needed, to fight for their rights at work). Workers no longer just want a career, an adequate salary, a welcoming workplace, job security, etc.… but they want their commitment to have a positive impact on the planet. If not, they are ready to fight.

If we connect these points to the great resignation, what is happening in the post-pandemic is not new, but it is something more profound, of a cultural singularity that if approached as the consequence of Covid-19 betrays a gaze rooted in the past.

The transition we are experiencing is radical and requires taking time to think about it, to study, to investigate. It requires an anthropological effort: we must abandon the prejudices of the observer who takes for granted that work, career, family, well-being mean the same thing they mean to him.

Transepochal means therefore making an anthropological exercise that we can only do with the curiosity of an explorer and opening a dialogue with the new generations.

Link to some articles for further information:

· The Great Resignation:

· Tang Ping:

· Googl:

· Google:

· Make Amazon Pay: