In myThe Singularity Will Not Happen post I talked about how the singularity will not happen. In it I used examples of past predictions of future technology that where very inaccurate. This leads to the question: why do futurists get so much wrong?
The biggest mistake they make is trying to use currant and past trends to predict long term technological development. As I pointed out trends change, sometimes in unpredictable ways. In 1903 the Write Brothers barely got off the ground, 66 years later the first man walked on the moon, 3 years after that last man to walk on the moon got home. In those 66 years manned flight grew rapidly; from a glorified glider with an engine to a huge rocket sending man a quarter of a million miles. Imagen if that that trend had continued for the nest 43 years, if you can't just watch 2001 A Space Odyssey. Trends change, sometimes in unpredictable ways. Using trends, even long term trends to try to predict long term technological development will most often give predictions that people in the future will laugh at.
Because they use the technology and trends of the time of prediction as a basis for predictions they fail to predict technologies that would not come from those trends and technologies. Futurist in the 70's predicted artificial intelligence and civilian orbital flight but not cell phones an the internet. Because they used the trends and technologies of the time they failed to predict technologies we have and predicted technologies we have yet to get and may never get.
Futurists are heavily influenced by science fiction. It's not hard to see why given the fantastical technology in science fiction and taken to its logical extremes there would be a technological singularity. Science fiction has the same problem futurists have; science fiction writers envision future technology has better versions of the technology of the time. Science fiction doesn't need to be accurate, it's science fiction and often science fantasy, it's not a good place to draw inspiration from when it comes to technology.
Futurists have a large flaw, it is not unique to futurism but they do have it: not critically looking at their own ideas. With out critically examining an idea you have no way of knowing how probable it is. Futurists dream of super advanced technology but they don't ask how probable that super advanced technology is. Futurists never ask "Are there physical, practical and economic limitations for this technology that may cause it not be practical or possible?" and as a result they never consider physical, practical and or economic issues that will limit technologies.
Futurists have gotten a lot things wrong yet they're still making predictions and they keep making the same mistakes.
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