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January 03, 2011

David Brin discusses his top futurology method

David Brin describes his top method for Futurology: The tricky art of knowing what will happen next.

The top method is simply to stay keenly attuned to trends in the laboratories and research centres around the world, taking note of even things that seem impractical or useless," says Brin. "You then ask yourself: 'What if they found a way to do that thing ten thousand times as quickly/powerfully/well? What if someone weaponised it? Monopolised it? Or commercialised it, enabling millions of people to do this new thing, routinely? What would society look like, if everybody took this new thing for granted?

I would then add refining it with an estimation of how much effort will be put into developing it.

Determine if there are truly hard physical limitations.



Try to then determine how very likely improvements or changes will interact and how they could improve the odds for less likely improvements.

* for example computing power will definitely increase by at least one hundred times each decade and communication speed will also make vast improvements in wireless and fiber optic modes.

In H+ Magazine, Valkyrie Ice points out the Top Five Errors in Predicting the Future
1. Tunnel Vision: extrapolating future changes, by giving too much weight to one line of technological innovation
2. Ideological slanting: imprinting today's ethical or moralistic biases on the future
3. Linearism: imagining that technology advances in a linear fashion, rather than exponentially, or along several parallel tracks
4. Static Worldview: a failure to envision how technology will deeply alter society and culture
5. Unrealistic models of human nature: certainly what we view as 'average' will shift in the future


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