Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Problems with Future Predictions

Future trend predictions are rarely accurate because, according to the Wall Street Journal:

1. Present trends almost never continue. Straight-line extrapolation, perhaps the most common form of prediction, may also be the worst method. Extrapolations have variously foretold the end of all oil supplies etc. In reality, trends almost always generate their own countertrends. Societies are unbelievably adept at adapting. People are incredibly good at learning. And everything changes, including rates of change.
2. Every prediction suffers from situational bias, i.e. predictions are influenced by the time period in which they are made. The futurists of the 1950s could easily imagine astronauts working on the moon, but not their own wives working outside the home.
3. We are influenced by commercial and politics interests. Those who came closest to the mark about the year 2000 were detached professional futurists.
4. The future begins in the present. It is not a detached leap.

But however outlandish, fallacious and inaccurate the exercise, predicting the future widens our horizons and deepens our capacity to imagine.

Source: Adapted from Wall Street Journal,

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