The One Predictable Thing About Technology

… Is it unpredictable.

Making predictions about anything is a tricky business. It is often fraught with pitfalls and made worse by two factors: too many variables and too many people.

Making predictions in the tech world is about as difficult as it gets. You see a trend, a fad, or a new craze, jump on it, extrapolate, and then go completely wrong.

For example, at the turn of the 20th century, it was predicted that passenger balloon rides – initiated by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin – would become commonplace and become the ultimate form of public transport. In fact, it would be so popular in the 1980s that people would have their own hot air balloon as their primary form of transportation.

Obviously, this look to the future did not take into account the plane, which put an end to this pearl of foresight.

The main problem with the future is that people are doing it in such painfully straight lines, as the previous example shows. The telephone is another useful example; Who could have predicted cell phones in the days when Alexander Graham Bell struggled with the technological equivalent of paper cups and wet string?

No one could have. Moreover, how could one have predicted that these cell phones would one day have built-in cameras? Or that you could send them written messages? You only have to go back 10 years, and such ideas would be ridiculed as foolish idiots.

The future is closed on, and in the wonderful world of information technology, the driving force behind much of the confusion is convergence.

Now, there’s a buzzword if I’ve ever heard of one. And that becomes the next big deal for predicting future tech trends: let’s get two really cool gadgets and merge them; people will love it!

Uh no! What drives desire is anyone’s guess. What motors need is utility: two very different parts of the brain are exercised here, one more than the other!

If something does not serve a practical purpose, it is neither a use nor an ornament.

This thing of predicting the future is even more difficult these days, but somehow even the most outlandish theory could have its day. Things change so quickly that new technologies are emerging literally overnight. And as people’s needs change, evolve and emerge as well, who knows?

Going back even further, the desire, the need – call it what you want – has a common source. The very engine of change is people, society, lifestyle and the need to manage, redirect and / or if necessary delegate all this data and information.

The Apple Newton was ahead of its time. A group of smart guys sat in a room and made a remarkable prediction of how people would “consume” data and information, and they were right about the money – the only problem being that they had more money. 10 years ahead!

Now people are moving. People work on the go, maintain long-distance relationships, work with colleagues across time zones, and manage bank accounts in a coffee shop while drinking a cup of chai.

The only certainty is the one on which we pontificate since time immemorial: things change. Things often come together in intriguing, mysterious, and eminently useful ways.

So here’s my prediction: things will never be small enough, big enough, fast enough, cool enough, or cheap enough! Am I wrong?

Source by Wayne Smallman

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