Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

TagFuturism

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Unusual robotic eye in steampunk style. Focused robot look. Background pattern close-up.

What Goes Right and Wrong When We Predict a High-Tech Future

A pundit who predicted the internet also thought that the horse would be nearly extinct by now

An article in Ladies’ Home Journal predicted 2001 a century earlier. Here’s a video version: Futurism is a hit and miss business: Fast food is predicted (3:40) but so is the extinction of the horse (3:20). Apparently, the futurist, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., did not foresee a future for horses in recreation and sports except for “the rich.” He predicted the internet and wireless communications in principle (5:57, 13:29): “A husband sitting in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago.” But, surprisingly, he did not see much of a commercial future for the airplane but rather favored dirigibles and electrified ships (8:20ff). He predicted high-speed trains but also…

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Crystal ball with building from antiquity

Futurism Doesn’t Learn from Past Experience

Technological success stories cannot be extrapolated into an indefinite future

The limits of science can be as instructive as the discoveries. If science someday proved that computer systems could never reproduce some aspect of mind, we'd have learned something important about the nature of mind.

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