Tips for Futurists

Mistaken extrapolations, limited imagination, and other common mistakes that distract us from thinking more productively about the future. post

Mistaken predictions lead to fears of things that are not going to happen, whether it’s the wide-scale destruction of jobs, the Singularity, or the advent of AI that has values different from ours and might try to destroy us. We need to push back on these mistakes. But why are people making them?


We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. If something is magic, it is hard to know its limitations.

We all use cues about how people perform some task to estimate how well they might perform some different task but these generalizations do not apply to AI.

Headlines trumpet overly general words, like learning, and warp the general understanding of progress.

People suffer from exponentialism, they may think that the exponentials they use to justify an argument are going to continue apace forever.

We will change our world along the way, adjusting both the environment for new technologies and the new technologies themselves.

Capital costs keep physical hardware around for a long time, even when there are high-tech aspects to it, and even when it has an existential mission.


Founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1899, MIT Technology Review derives its authority from the world's foremost technology institution. site

A colleague says, Please don't call it MIT Review. The only connection between that worthless rag and the institute is that they pay the MIT Alumni Association some cash and agree to send all the alums free copies with alumni assoc notes included. If the magazine has any value it is negative: a friend calls it "the magazine of things that will never happen".


Master puzzled its human rivals by placing pieces in unconventional positions early in the game and changing tactics from game to game. Sometimes Master skirmished with its opponent across the whole board, while other times it relinquished territory with hardly a fight. wsj