Daily Archives: August 4, 2012

Why the blog title change? The more accurate guide to the future?

Well, it is part blowing my own trumpet, and part realisation that my futurology skills have improved over 21 years and the new title is a fair claim, since I can now claim 90% accuracy. There is a lot of rubbish going round out there, but I like to believe I see through most of it and rarely get taken in, and my results are the evidence.

Until recently, I frivolously claimed to be accurate about 85% of the time, but that was based on a simple right/wrong count in the technology timelines I used to do.  I don’t do them any more because they take so long. They were not really serious predictions, more a list of what will be technologically feasible by the stated date, as much media tools as serious contributions to the futures field, and they were always produced in time in between projects so never got much real effort, so the 85% was pretty good, all things considered. Each entry probably only got a minute or two of analysis. On the other hand, technology is pretty easy to predict, so 85% isn’t all that good. The 15% I got wrong should maybe have been lower.

My more serious work, such as papers in professional journals and commissioned articles receive much more effort and consequently have better scope, depth and insight than the timelines. Now that sufficient time has passed, most of the stuff I wrote about in those has either come to pass or is at least much more mainstream and well on its way.

After 10 years working in far future engineering projects, I have now been doing futurology 21 years full time, and have developed a good sense of what is realistic and what is just marketing hype, what is catastrophist nonsense and what is a real problem. I use systems engineering skills honed over 30 years in front line engineering and can usually spot garbage a mile away, and what is important. And I now cover a much broader scope than IT, extending into most sectors.

Futurology should be far more than just pointing at new gadgets or recent discoveries or developments, though that is a valuable activity in its own right. So, I use those same systems thinking and engineering skills to add insight, and often propose solutions, many of which have since become real or at entered mainstream discussion. I am no entrepreneur, but that does at least mean I get to say “I told you so” more often than I used to, and that is all the more fun in those areas where so many people were so emphatic that I was wrong. It is very satisfying watching others having to fall in line and trying to hide or dismiss their errors. That may be a personality defect but so what? Just occasionally, everyone else IS wrong.

Anyway, I had a good check of how the word is now, and where people are going, even where the futurist community is now making lots of noise and checked against what I have been saying over the years. As a result, I have revised my estimate of my track record to 90% accuracy at the 10 years horizon. More accurate. So, 90% of the time I will be pretty close to the mark, 10% I will still be talking rubbish. I think that’s pretty darned good. I hope you agree.

Thanks for reading ‘The more accurate guide to the future’. Seeing through the fog just a little more clearly. I will put my trumpet away now.