About Foresight (a minor rant)
Why worry about tomorrow? After all, according to one of our most respected thinkers, "always in motion is the future."
It's a reasonable question. Consistently accurate predictions about interconnected complex systems are functionally impossible, at least at any real level of specificity. It's long been known that even people paid far too much money to make predictions about a constrained system (such as the stock market) usually do no better -- and typically worse -- than a chimpanzee flinging darts (or whatever else the chimp feels like flinging). One of the best-selling books about foresight in recent years -- The Black Swan -- essentially argued that trying to glimpse the future was worse-than-useless, because it would get you locked onto the understandable (but actually unlikely) and make you miss the seemingly impossible (but actually inevitable). Failed predictions and futurism go hand-in-hand, to the point where the first thing that someone identifying himself/herself as a futurist is typically asked is some variant of "where's my jetpack?"
The conventional image of a "futurist" is that of someone who speaks with certainty about the yet-to-come, making bold predictions of headline-generated changes... and never really being held to account when those predictions fail to be realized. (In fact, there's a weird pathology at work in the traditional media and political worlds: the only way to be taken seriously is to be repeatedly wrong, but in acceptable ways. Being right, when the conventional wisdom was wrong, will get you ignored.) J. Random Futurist gets quoted on CNBC one day saying that Facebook is undervalued, and will soon be rich enough to buy a small country, and quoted on FBN the next day saying that Facebook is doomed, DOOOOOMED, because of what Google just unveiled. This isn't informative, and it isn't illuminating; at best, it's infotainment.
Conventional futurists are the Michael Bays of the intellectual world: what they produce can be spectacular and amusing, but is ultimately hollow and depressing.