The future of Futurology

Canada’s National Post has a piece entitled ‘Whatever happened to the paperless office?’ about how bad futurologists are:

“Futurists, it seems clear, seldom have any idea what they are talking about. Even the most brilliant, Marshall McLuhan, who is to futurism what Freud is to psychiatry, was subject to extravagant fantasies. In 1964, he believed firmly that soon we would all design our own unique automobiles, with computer-directed factories operating like bespoke tailors. Others predicted the coming of the leisure society and the self-cleaning house.”

I have to admit to a little bit of sympathy for this view but it is a lot easier to criticise them for what they get wrong than for what they get right. I remember seeing a piece which tried to put a percentage on the amount of things various high profile futurologists had predicted correctly… it was much higher than I would have expected.

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