Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blake's First Rule Of Prognostication

I used to be a pundit, of sorts, of technical matters. I wrote an back-page editorial for a German magazine for years in which I talked about various issues and how I saw the tech world unfolding.

I was very bad at--and soon stopped attempting to--see the future. However, I have observed that some people can make lots of money and press by pretending to see the future. And I see what my major error was. I was always trying to predict details about what was right around the corner. What was going to happen in the next six, twelve or eighteen months. You can't do that, of course, because it makes it too easy to check on your results.

If you want to be a successful fortune teller (and get the money and PR for it), you have to predict the big things that are going to happen, and they should be about 20 years out. Seven years is bold, but still pretty safe, and 100 years is too far to care.

So, my first rule of prognostication is this: Successful fortune-telling requires seeing things far enough into the future that you can avoid being checked on.

Indeed, most of the environmental "terrors" I've seen in my life have been predicted twenty years out. In the 1990s, we were supposed to be out of raw materials, most especially oil. There were supposed to be 20 billion people on the planet. And the new ice age was to be upon us.

The exception was nuclear winter, which required a hypothetical situation that virtually guaranteed no one would be able to check the results.

Heh. I got so to ranting I forgot what made me think this. (Via Instapundit.)

Human-equivlaent AI predicted by 2029 [link to BBC article].

We needed a new AI prediction because the last time I recall such a prediction was 1989. Now that everyone's forgotten that one, we can move on to the new prediction.

There is a segment of Christians, I'm sure, that has been predicting the Second Coming, every generation 100 times over. My dad used to do some (data processing) work for Morris Cerullo, who was predicting it in the early '80s.

But some would have you believe that only the religious believe in false prophets.


  1. Nice work, Blake. Please email me -- I have a private question. tdunkle@dietpower.com.

    Terry Dunkle

  2. Hey, Terry,

    While you seem to be a real person, your message is indistinguishable from spam. I'll ping you next time you're online though.

    Or if you get this, you can respond here.

  3. Nice work, Blake. Please email me..I have a private question.
    Or maybe you can answer it here...
    who would want to go on a diet when there is so much great food in the world. I am on the way to pickup some pizza and calzones with a case of beer to enjoy the idol. It's the bitches tonight. Cool.
    On second thought don't email. And don't ping me either. Isn't that where you throw a football at the metal plate in my head.

  4. Trooper,

    Terry's a real person, don't scare him off!

    (Terry, if you get this message, there should be a link you can click on to unsubscribe.)

    Diet-wise, I know what you mean. On the other hand, I think that most people aren't fat because we overeat really great food, but because we overeat really bad food.

    I mean, if I'm on a cruise or travelling through Europe, I'm eating, waistline-be-damned. But ho-hos and yoo-hoos probably aren't worth it.... (At least IMO.)


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