Listening to Future Babble

Logbook note 4 October 2017

Most predictions of the future goes straight where our roads are anything but

Logbook, text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Today I have listened to a book telling amazing stories about future predictions from experts through-out the last more than hundred years, seen in hindsight, most of them didn’t hit the target at all. And the more sure the experts were of their predictions, the lower the odds

The book Future Babble 

Listening to the book “future babble”  by Dan Gardner. where Dan Gardner has researched how good the odds are for the overwhelming amounts of predictions and things experts from all kinds of areas are fast to proclaim is about to happen.

Most amazing is to learn how little the experts in general actually manage to get right. Things most didn’t see coming are huge world changing things like the appearance of the internet, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and to the appearance of China on the world stage.

The reason apparently is that experts making predictions often acts like “driving without hands” or walking with ones head turned backwards facing the past – quoting Dante’s Divine Comedy:

Man walking happily backwards over an edge
Walking backwards into the future illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

“They had their faces twisted toward their haunches and found it necessary to walk backward, because they could not see ahead of them. …And since he wanted so to see ahead, he looks behind and walks a backward path.”   

( Dante – divine comedy – year: 1320 )

Seeing along straight lines – future projections, more than predictions

What most experts do is to take trends in the present and throw them into the future along a straight line. If nothing unexpected happens, like the appearance of a new technology, a new energy source, a bend in the road, or a butterfly flapping its wings in Brasil, then the odds are good.

A different approach to predicting the future

Unfortunately the road is rarely straight, and predictions can’t see around the corners – It seems more like the best way of predicting where and what anything will be in the future is by actively setting a direction – and start walking, And as in the Moon program, putting the first man on the moon, solving the challenges as they appear.

Or as it has often been said in a number of different ways:

“The best way to predict the future, is by inventing it”

( quote link )


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