It’s easy to think that the future has run out of surprises, but there is little sign that it has. People have been predicting better predictions over the thousands of years since the prediction business got underway. Simple extrapolation is rarely the smartest move.
What have we to say to the inhabitants of Finland four thousand generations into the future, and how on earth might we expect them to understand us?
It is always the next technology which is going to precipitate social collapse. Yet somehow the social collapse has never quite happened (though maybe next time…). More than that, last year’s (or last century’s) threat to society becomes this year’s golden age. So from a splendid compendium of moral panics by Tom Standage, we […]
It’s history week at the Cabinet Office, a series of internal events designed to remind the current generation of policy makers both that there is always something to learn from history and that their work will become history in its turn. It being Cabinet Office, there are ways of emphasising history not open to every […]
Supermarkets are not about to start closing their doors. Parliamentary democracy is not about to collapse or even radically mutate. But the web is only twenty years old. The disruption is just beginning.
Most of the time, the hottest place in the solar system is the core of the sun. Some of the time, the hottest place in the solar system is tucked away in an obscure building on an anonymous industrial estate on a former airfield in rural Oxfordshire.1 There they use extreme heat and power […]
Looking for something else, I have just stumbled across some notes I took from a book I was reading almost exactly ten years ago (and which had been published that year). Normally I try hard to give proper attribution to quotations, but this time it might be kinder not to: It seems clear that, unlike […]
The most prominent predictors of the future tend to be the most wrong Geoff Mulgan
There is a lot of pseudo-scientific claptrap published about the future. There are people who carefully extrapolate trends, construct complex scenarios, weight many outcomes, some of whom necessarily get some things right through sheer chance, but many of whom appear to rely on nobody checking back from the future to see how well they did. […]
Fifteen years ago, I predicted the demise of the supermarket. Four years ago, I noted that that hadn’t turned out to be the greatest of predictions: I wasn’t quite daft enough to think that everybody was going to do their food shopping online. My argument was slightly more subtle, though it has so far proved […]