Re: Futurism not so hard after all?

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 09:55:36 -0500

Damien Broderick wrote:
> >year 2000, ...futurist articles, ... the people
> >they have write these articles are mostly *not* decent futurists!
>Okay, here's such an article I just had in the national Australian
>newspaper, in a bland series called `Chronicles of the Future'. I
>deliberately avoided Singularities and other Joe Six-pack repellents,
>putting in just enough to twist his brain a little. Is this the kind of
>thing you abhor, Robin?

No it is not! Your article is much better than the median article, because you engage the big issues. I don't think every futurist needs to agree with you that change will be as fast or big as you expect, but these possibilities should be at least considered.

Hal Finney asked:

 >How do you judge the quality of a futurist though, without waiting for
 >the future to happen? Do you consider someone a good futurist on the
 >basis of a track record of successful predictions? Or is it more that
 >his predictions seem relatively plausible?   One thing you can do is to
 >identify bad futurists because their scenarios are internally inconsistent.

I doubt if I could be very explicit about how I judge quality. Track record counts, but mostly there hasn't been time for most young futurists to get one. Two things that are important are at least being aware of the big issues, and being a reasonably careful thinker (e.g. consistent).

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323