At the Institute for the Future where I'm a researcher, we always say that the future is impossible to predict. The good news is, you don't have to. It's better to focus on foresight. In a draft chapter of a forthcoming book, my colleague Bob Johansen writes:
Foresight is a particularly good way to stimulate insights. While prediction is impossible, provocation is easy. Insights arise from differences: different ideas, different angles, and different moods. If insights were obvious, everyone would be having them. What new development might be created–given the external future forces that are at play? This is a search for “Aha’s!” It is a search for insights, a search for coherence in the midst of confusion.
With that in mind, here are a few excerpts from 2Spare.com's "Top 87 Bad Predictions about the Future":
• "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad."--The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.
• "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."--Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.
• "Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous."--Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1939.
• "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."--A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).
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