The peculiar blindness of experts

 

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Credentialed authorities are comically bad at predicting the future. But reliable forecasting is possible.

The bet was on, and it was over the fate of humanity. On one side was the Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In his 1968 best seller, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich insisted that it was too late to prevent a doomsday apocalypse resulting from overpopulation. Resource shortages would cause hundreds of millions of starvation deaths within a decade. It was cold, hard math: The human population was growing exponentially; the food supply was not. Ehrlich was an accomplished butterfly specialist. He knew that nature did not regulate animal populations delicately. Populations exploded, blowing past the available resources, and then crashed.

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Why Futurism has a cultural blind spot

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We predicted cell phones, but not women in the workplace

In early 1999, during the halftime of a University of Washington basketball game, a time capsule from 1927 was opened. Among the contents of this portal to the past were some yellowing newspapers, a Mercury dime, a student handbook, and a building permit. The crowd promptly erupted into boos. One student declared the items “dumb.”

Such disappointment in time capsules seems to run endemic, suggests William E. Jarvis in his book Time Capsules: A Cultural History. A headline from The Onion, he notes, sums it up: “Newly unearthed time capsule just full of useless old crap.” Time capsules, after all, exude a kind of pathos: They show us that the future was not quite as advanced as we thought it would be, nor did it come as quickly. The past, meanwhile, turns out to not be as radically distinct as we thought.

In his book Predicting the Future, Nicholas Rescher writes that “we incline to view the future through a telescope, as it were, thereby magnifying and bringing nearer what we can manage to see.” So too do we view the past through the other end of the telescope, making things look farther away than they actually were, or losing sight of some things altogether.

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Get ready. 2019 predictions about Artificial Intelligence that will make your head spin

 

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Instead of breaking systems with ransomware, adversaries will leverage new tools to conduct harmful assaults on targeted subjects and organizations.

A staff member stands near a computer as it participates in the CHAIN Cup at the China National Convention Center in Beijing. A computer running artificial intelligence software defeated two teams of human doctors in accurately recognizing maladies in magnetic resonance images on Saturday, in a contest that was billed as the world’s first competition in neuroimaging between AI and human experts. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)ASSOCIATED PRESS

While the hip, ubiquitous business buzzwords are cryptocurrency and blockchain, the truly formidable factor of what is being called the fourth industrial revolution is Artificial Intelligence. Whether praised as a panacea for greater business efficiency or the feared as the demise of humanity, Artificial Intelligence is upon us and will impact business and society at large in ways that we can only begin to imagine. Fasten your seatbelts. Here’s what a few influencers in the arena say is on tap for 2019.

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The most futuristic predictions that came true in 2017

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The trouble with the future is that it never seems to arrive. That’s why we call it the future. We consequently have this bad habit of taking the present, and all the wondrous and horrific things it has to offer, for granted. As a reminder that we’re actually living in the future of a not-so-distant past, we present to you a list of the most futuristic things that happened in 2017.

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Stephen Hawking’s incredible predictions in 2017

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Stephen Hawking is known for his groundbreaking achievements in science, but many do not realize that the physicist is also recognized for making predictions about the future of humanity and Earth. This year the Oxford professor made some of the most unusual predictions to date, some of which may put a slight damper on your New Year’s festivities.

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How the Internet of Things is transforming industries you never imagined

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Growing up, computers were mainly tools for automating secretarial tasks, not for professional work. Economist Robert Solow observed around that time, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

But in the late 1990’s information technology became truly transformative. Combined with the commercial Internet and email, they became conduits to a continuous flow of information that could be processed, analyzed and turned into action. It’s likely that we’re in the early days of a similar productivity boom today, as connectivity begins to transform physical machines.

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Top 10 American brands that will disappear in 2016

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24/7 Wall St. has identified 10 American brands that they predict will disappear, either through bankruptcies or because of mergers in 2016. Bankruptcies of large public companies in 2015 have already exceeded 2014 totals. Similarly, the total value of mergers and acquisitions is projected to hit a record high in 2015. While some of the companies on this list may disappear because they continue to be at the bottom of their industry, some may disappear because they are doing well.

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Hitachi can predict where and when crimes will occur by monitoring everything from the weather to Twitter

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In the  2002 Steven Spielberg movie, Minority Report, Chief John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise) says, “No doubt the precogs have already seen this.” In the movie Cruise plays the head of Washington, D.C.’s experimental “Precrime” crime-prediction department. The movie is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1956 short story (which is also now a new Fox TV series).

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The future of higher education: The #HigherEd #Startup revolution

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Thomas Frey predicted that 50% of colleges would collapse by 2013. Similarly, Clayton Christiansen is quoted as saying that 50% of colleges will not exist in 15 years. Others have made similar claims. Such predictions are based on tracing the impact and likely trajectory of innovations like blended and online learning, open learning, technologies allowing for mass customization and personalization, adapting learning software, and a growing set of alternative pathways to gainful and skilled employment.

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A Futurist on our Future

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Jared Lindzon – Mining asteroids, an activity that could produce the world’s first trillionaire by 2030. 3D-printed cruises ships and hospitals. But no more taxi drivers, firefighters and (gulp) journalists. Indeed, the future of the world according to Thomas Frey is not quite what you might expect.

Frey is executive director and “senior futurist” at the DaVinci Institute, a 17-year-old think tank where he gathers a group of high-profile intellectuals for deep conversations about tomorrow. And we mean high profile: regular contributors to these “mastermind groups” include nearly every sitting governor of Colorado (the think tank’s home state), CEOs like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, the commissioner of the U.S. patent office, university presidents and science fiction authors like David Brin.

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