Futurists and the word "yet"
In the last issue of Strategy Business, there is a long in-depth interview of Alvin Toffler about his the book he wrote with his wife "Revolutionary Wealth". While the whole interview is a must-read for people interested in foresight, innovation, prosumer revolution and stuff like that, I was bemused by this excerpt:
S+B: When I looked at Future Shock recently, I was surprised at your stridence. You wrote of the acceleration of the pace of change as an illness, “a cancer in history.” With 35 years of hindsight, would you still describe our situation that way?
TOFFLER: Well, I might tone down some of the language. I was 35 years younger. But I think the basic argument of the book stands. We’re always asked what we got wrong, and we did get a few things wrong. That’s inevitable when you’re looking 30 or so years ahead. The hardest thing to forecast is timing — when certain events would happen. We said, back then in 1970, that humanity would clone animals, and that has happened; we said that we would also clone humans, and I still think that’s likely. But we were wrong in the timing. We said that these would happen by 1985. We didn’t make that date up. We got it from one of the world’s leading Nobel Prize–winning biologists, who happened to be rather more optimistic than he should have been.
There’s another passage in the book where we talk about throwaway products, that someday we may be wearing paper clothing. And we aren’t. Yet.
I always get a laugh from an audience when I say, of course, we futurists have a magic button; we follow every statement about a failed forecast with “yet.”
Why do I blog this? the power of words always strikes me.