Rating the futurists

Gavin sends us "An article that I wrote for Wired (and Playboy) a few years back that never ran in either magazine. I just put it up on my website and it seems right up BB's alley:

A rundown of futurism, going through nine sets of predictions on what the world would be like by the year 2000, from Megatrends (1988) to Glimpses of the Future (1888--and an amazing amount of correct material!), including best/worst predictions (my favorite: two astronauts will have a gunfight in outer space over a woman) and accuracy rates for each futurist."

Most of the futurists I read focused on the rise and fall of governments, and especially, the progress of technology and the sciences. The future of art and literature got short shrift, as did sex and religion. At first, I thought this was because too many of the predictors considered their readership to be drawn from the business community. But that didn’t wash: an accurate prediction of fashion trends, or societal attitudes towards sex, would be immensely valuable to any savvy investor or corporate type. Would-be prophets avoid arts and entertainment because they seem too difficult to pin down, too trend-driven. Science provides the illusion that progress occurs in an orderly fashion: Mendel’s pea-plants to the discovery of DNA to the Human Genome Project to a cure for cancer, all in a tidy line.

Welcome to the Future

(Thanks, Gavin!)