"We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run." - Roy Amara (1925-2007)
Roy Amara, engineer, forecaster, and longtime president of Institute for the Future
, died on Monday. At age 82, Roy still made regular visits to IFTF and attended our conferences, always offering sage advice and brilliant bits of insight. Several months ago, I had lunch with Roy and we talked at length about synthetic biology, an emerging field we agreed will likely have a profound impact on our world. At IFTF, we always make a point to look back at history before starting any forecast. As part of his personal interest in the future of synthetic biology and healthcare, Roy told me he was taking a look way
back, reading Charles Darwin's diaries from beginning to end.
Roy's career began in 1952 at the Stanford Research Institute where he worked on the development of the ERMA computer. During his 18 years at SRI, he directed research programs on interactive computing, decision analysis, and worked closely with Doug Engelbart on the proposals that led to Engelbart's history-making Augmentation Research Center. In 1970, he left SRI to become president of Institute for the Future, a not-for-profit research group that helps companies, governments, foundations, and other institutions think about the long-term future. At IFTF, Roy established our Ten-Year Forecast, now in its 35th year. In 1977, he led one of the first studies on the possible impacts of global climate change.
This year is IFTF's 40th anniversary. We'll miss Roy as we celebrate where his dedication, generosity, and foresight has led us.
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
We just got the Sport model of the EPIKGO hoverboard at my office. Besides being terribly chic, it’s apparently bulletproof.
Bamboo has lots of uses beyond just being panda food. Things like bikes, roads, scaffolding, and musical instruments are made from the fast-growing grass. But unless you are participating in a tropical-themed LARP, you probably wouldn’t want a shirt made from bamboo stalks. So why do bamboo bed sheets make any sense? Because yarn extracted from […]
If you want to work in tech, but don’t have any desire to code web apps to help businesses sell things to other business, you might want to consider a career in cybersecurity. Judging from the apparent complete infiltration of Russian hackers in American cyberspace, it seems fair to speculate that there’s a major shortage of […]
All moms are different. But all moms like getting flowers on Mother’s Day, and that’s a fact (not, however a fact we can document in any fashion.) Instead of getting chewed out for forgetting to call her on the second Sunday of May, you can take care of it ahead of time with Teleflora’s flower […]