Even When They're Right, Predictions of the Future Are Wrong

This is the time when I tire of seeing end of the year wrap-ups and best-of-the-year lists. I particularly find predictions about the year(s) to come annoying. I'm tired of hearing people ask "Where are the things I saw on The Jetsons and in movies about the future?"

Another popular news story is to look back on some past prediction about our present and see if they got anything correct.For example, Brian Williams did a 2-minute story on NBC way back in 2007 about the futuristic year 2017.

Watching it, I thought that even when they got things right, the results just feel wrong. Not wrong as in "incorrect" but in the sense of illicit or reprehensible.

They got some predictions correct, but their focus was a kind of technological, biometric nightmare of ubiquitous facial recognition, microchip ID implants (more common on pets than people in 2016), that build on iris scans and fingerprint ID (as on your phone) that were becoming viable in 2007.

Like most predictions, the writers almost always think change will happen faster than it really does occur. Have you found really easy hospital patient identification to be a reality? My doctor is still trying to scan my old records as PDF files. Are you free of needing your wallet and keys? Yes, some (not the majority) people use their phones to pay and have a car without a key, but change comes slower than we expect.

That is not so much because we can't create the new technology. It is about adoption. The smartphone is a good example of a technology that had a rapid adoption rate. It was accepted and purchased much faster than other technologies.

Are you still thinking that a drone will deliver your pizza and Amazon order in 2017? When will the roads be filled my almost all driverless cars?

Relax, you have plenty of time.

(This post first appeared on my Serendipity35 blog)

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