Future Cool
Imagine your future as an A______ Free Zone

Imagine your future as an Asshole Free Zone

Max Thinius is regarded as Europe’s leading futurologist. He researches and works on topics ranging from digitalization, social development, economy, financial market, urban and regional development, to health, nutrition, education and politics.

From this holistic view, many possibilities of the future often become visible – and his FUTURE COOL column, of course.


I think at some point in life everyone has to found their own club. For me it was 10 years ago and it was the best decision: the AFZ, the Asshole Free Zone. Sorry for being that frankly, but there was no option. And the best thing is: just announcing this club, that I want to live in it now, has led to many people turning away from me – and exactly the right ones. I would not have thought that possible. I had always believed that you had to let a few people in. So, 20% I deluded myself into believing are simply not the way one should be among people.

But it’s not true. And certainly not if you want to shape the future. The effect was even the other way round: since the founding of this club, more and more nice, friendly, sympathetic people have approached me. And even some of the assholes have changed because they simply didn’t want to be assholes anymore. Hard to believe but true. A zone where people approach each other with trust, charm, love even, is attractive. A zone where people meet with trust, charm and even love is attractive as can be.


So, let’s look towards the future! How nice it would be if we had people in our environment who make products you can really trust. Who don’t exploit anyone and don’t waste resources. Products to eat, to wear, technical products. Simply in such a way, that we no longer have to worry whether there is a catch. And wouldn’t it be nice if there were people in our lives who would simply give us advice without a hidden agenda? Not making a profit somewhere after all. Financial institutions, for example, who recommend products that really suit me and not the goals of the investment department.

We need a bigger picture for and of the future. That also means approaching each other in a collaborative way. For example, the industry that is desperately trying to save itself. Even though we know that if we save it in the short term, we will harm the planet in the long term. Sometimes it’s not that simple. Who’s the asshole in this context? Short-term or long-term?

Speaking of learning! At school, unfortunately, the kids still learn that it’s ok to gain an advantage over others. And they learn it from people who set an example for us day by day in business and politics. I still remember how we were taught at school about the conquest of America or the triumph of industrialisation. Today we obviously think different. But we haven’t for a long time too long. Many people have not learned that a short-term personal advantage can be a long-term disadvantage.

Today, we can get such overviews quite well via algorithms, digital sensors, artificial intelligence calculations. We can create models, digital twins of entire regions, which show us how a region will develop. How our everyday life will develop, how our lives will develop. It’s good that this exists.

@jk park

With the help of technology, we can keep track of things. We also get a faster response when we do something. I can already see from my watch whether I am moving in a positive or negative direction – in other words, whether I am behaving in a climate-positive or negative way. With that, I change my behaviour. But despite all the technology, we must not forget one thing: it only does what we have programmed it to do. We “think” AND “steer”. No one else is responsible for us. Only we ourselves. And that is precisely why I would like to see an AFZ in which we will live in the future. With people who want to shape our quality of life and economy to the best of their knowledge and conscience. Who listen to others, think about things and stand up for the community just as they do for their own profit.

By the way, this is called “resonance economy”. Many small autonomous systems decide and act for themselves, constantly in collaborative exchange with the next system. At the end of the day it is the same with systems as it is with people. The “Resonance-Economy” is just a AFZ in another context. Welcome to the future you choose for yourself!

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