How To Predict The Future

This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn

When I was a kid, I read a book called “Tas and the Postal Rocket“, it’s a story about a boy who accidentally stows away on a rocket used for delivering mail.¬†Written in the 1950’s the fictitious postal rocket was a machine that had the potential to deliver mail in 90mins to anywhere in the world. In the 50’s this would have been revolutionary.

To me, the 90’s kid, this seemed silly. The postal rocket was made obsolete by the internet and email.

During the industrial revolution steam powered machines replaced jobs, and many predicted that people would soon be made obsolete. Eventually machines would replace us. Instead, throughout the 19th and 20th century machines, and now electronics, are becoming more and more pervasive. Instead of replacing us, they’re increasing our work output. Instead of working fewer hours, we expect higher standards of output. We can observe this in the workplace and domestically. Before the iron and the washing machine, clothes were washed more infrequently. The advent of this technically, increased our standards. We expect a sparkling clean crispy, well ironed shirt to be waiting for us in our cupboard everyday.

When it comes to new technology, it’s fun to try and predict how it’ll change our lives. But, like Tas’s postal rocket, sometimes we’ll miss the mark.

And that’s fine.

It’s impossible to predict the future.

Instead of asking how technologies like AI and Blockchain will change our lives it’s often more helpful to ask, “What will remain the same?” What is fundamental about the human psyche that will never change?

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