[extropy-chat] The Dramatic Future Is Always 20-30 Years Away

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 3 00:46:08 UTC 2005

--- Dirk Bruere <dirk.bruere at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 9/30/05, Robin Hanson <rhanson at gmu.edu> wrote:
> >
> > I've heard many times how dramatic forecasts for the future tend to
> > be about 20-30 years away. That is, fusion break-even, space
> > colonies, and household robots were consistently said to be that
> far
> > into the future, forecasts that remained about that far into even
> > 20-30 years after the first such forecasts were made. I just today
> > heard that for many7 decades economists like Samuelson forecasted
> > that the Soviet Economy would overtake the US economy in about
> 20-30
> > years.
> >
> > That timescale is usually sufficient to make any predictions pretty
> much impossible, hence implausible ones get their shot at notoriety
> along with the likely. In computer tech it's very rare you will see
> serious speculation in the industry about where things will be in 10,
> let alone 30, years. 

Depends on what part of the industry you are in. University researchers
were dicking around with wearables before 1990, today we have the ipod,
the nano, PDAs more powerful than 1996 desktops. Industry funded
university research actually tends to take 10 years for the big things
to reach the consumer level, primarily due to Moores Law economics.
Industry futurists do predict product/market windows out to 10 years
with Moore's Law, by estimating how much processing power/memory is
needed for a certain application/product, what the market demand price
points are for that product, and using Moore's Law to predict when it
will be profitable to introduce that product into the market.

However, if the 20-30 year Hanson rule holds true, and given that
global warming proponents predict catastrophe in 100 years, I hereby
predict that their predictions are 180 degrees out of whack
(directionally, not thermally, or at least not so much, er, whatever,
you know what I mean), and that this prediction will be confirmed in
less than 20 years (therefore it is automatically more accurate).

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
Founder, Constitution Park Foundation:
Personal/political blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

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