The trouble with predicting innovation is that the changes that people tend to foresee take a long time to materialise if they ever do. Think hoverboards, personal air transport, AI taking over the world, self-cleaning clothes, good-tasting rehydrated food, control of the weather. All of which have been almost constantly predicted for decades. The things that actually do happen tend to creep up on us in a banal way. Think video calls, cloud computing, self-driving cars, home working, online dating.
My observation is that the further in the future you go the easier it is to get it right. I attended the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Design Museum last year and learned that Arthur C. Clarke made one bizarrely accurate prediction as two astronauts in the movie 2001 can be seen reading a newspaper on something that looks suspiciously like an iPad, that he calls a Newspad. Bulls-eye!
However unless you’re a sci-fi writer or pro futurologist, good luck predicting. If you’re still in any doubt, turn to the excellent and thorough book ‘Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction’ by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner. It’s a cautionary tale for those of us in innovation. And experts:
“Unfortunately people tend to be terrible forecasters. As Wharton professor Philip Tetlock showed in a landmark 2005 study, even experts’ predictions are only slightly better than chance. However, an important and underreported conclusion of that study was that some experts do have real foresight.”
So I will confine myself to these ten 2020 predictions that our team has come up with based on the best predictor organ that humans have. Their gut!
These are all predictions that we are involved in making happen. And as Alan Kay, inventor and polymath who worked on world-changing inventions like the graphical interface, object-oriented programming and the personal computer itself said:
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”