In one of my very first Ariadne posts I referred to the prediction pundits. You have, perhaps, noticed the prevalence of this species in the technology world. In a recent newsletter the folks at CB Insights have called this the pundit industrial complex, and illustrate it with various headlines about the future market size for drones and virtual reality.
You see similar confident predictions for 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things. Many of these seem intended to stimulate the Fear-of-missing-out response in companies and investors. As CB Insights comment:
To predict technology trends, the processes we are forced to use are hopelessly antiquated and overly-reliant on pundits.
They don’t suggest how to become less-reliant on pundits (and many in the media seem to love to provide certainty and precision). I rarely pay attention to the predictions of market size, but some of the analytical, rather than pontificational, reports on technologies can provide good insights if they are clear about what assumptions they are making.
Keeping with the headline theme, but on the doom rather than boom side, the website Timeline handily points out that there has been a century of headlines predicting robots are taking our jobs. Then, as now, eminent scientists have been featured predicting bad times are coming.
[There’s a tragic irony with the date and place of that headline.]
Just because the rise of robots has been predicted for a century doesn’t mean that this time it’s not different. But don’t believe the headlines. Good foresight should explain, not proclaim. And, acknowledge uncertainties.
Featured Image: CC Pixabay