[FoRK] Predicting the future of technology

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Sat Oct 2 08:53:57 PDT 2010

On Sep 29, 2010, at 10:20 , Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:

> The question is when they were *promised* and what was promised at that time. IT/Tech is notorious in the public mind for consistently underdelivering by every possible/meaningful measurement. For the most part, not unjustified.

First of all, the problem here is a reflection on the public more than "IT/Tech" (whatever that is.)  Apparently the public incorrectly believes that "IT/Tech" has *promised* them anything whatsoever.  Second, apparently the public is entirely indiscriminating when it comes to sourcing predictions.  Predictions are a dime a dozen.  Good, predictive models are rare --- but those that exist have been extremely reliable (e.g., Moore's law and friends, which can even be retroactively applied to net world computational ability historically, far beyond its usual formulation in terms of numbers of transistors etc.)

Similarly the psychological / sociological phenomenon of atemporality and inability to accurately judge / recall delta change given the gradient of change over current generations' lifespans is also much studied and well documented.

Finally, as our little recent lesson in public innumeracy illustrates, even when given reasonable data the public cannot be relied upon to interpret it properly.

To the extent that anything in particular actually *has not* been delivered, that is far more often a problem of entrenched social and business interests and systematic inertia towards change due to economic incentives than it is one of the ability to build a particular technological artifact.  For those things that are purely technologically / scientifically drive, or for those things where reasonable competitive pressures apply, change happens quickly and the *rate of change* itself increases rapidly.

By most *meaningful* measurements vs. meaningful models, "IT/Tech" has been hitting its marks extremely well.  That it has failed to meet a gullible and ignorant and wishful public's expectations set by hucksters is no indictment of anything but the public and the hucksters.


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