Bad Predictions for Science and Technology

One of the biggest challenges with facilitation is to build consensus about a future state.  In a light-hearted sense, as we approach the holiday season, here are some statements that  likely garnered some respect along the way—albeit short-lived.

Get Out of the Box

  • “Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments.” Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus, AD 10.
  • “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?” President Rutherford B. Hayes to Alexander Graham Bell, 1876.
  • “It doesn’t matter what he does, he will never amount to anything.” Albert Einstein’s teacher to his father, 1895.
  • “I have anticipated [radio’s] complete disappearance — confident that the unfortunate people, who must now subdue themselves to ‘listening-in’ will soon find a better pastime for their leisure.” H.G. Wells, The Way the World is Going, 1925.
  • “The problem with television is that the people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.” The New York Times, after a prototype television was demonstrated at the 1939 World’s Fair.
  • “It would appear we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements; they tend to sound pretty silly in five years.” Computer scientist John von Neumann, 1949.
  • “Man will never reach the moon, regardless of all future scientific advances.” Radio pioneer Lee De Forest, 1957.
  • “Despite the trend to compactness and lower costs, it is unlikely everyone will have his own computer any time soon.” Reporter Stanley Penn, The Wall Street Journal, 1966.
  • “But what is [the microchip] good for?” Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968.
  • “I predict the Internet…will go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” Bob Metcalfe, InfoWorld, 1995

These were first compiled by Laura Lee and published in The Futurist, September-October 2000,  For structured facilitation support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see for a current schedule).

About Facilitation Instructor
President of Morgan Madison & Company, through professional and academic endeavors, Terrence has focused on improving group decision-making quality. His experience has proven that: 1. Evidence-based information assures higher quality decisions. 2. Properly managed conflict, provides groups with more “options” to consider —
 and groups with more options have been proven to make higher quality decisions. With a Baccalaureate in Science from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and a MBA from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, Metz’s core competency has focused on rhetoric: the process of adjusting ideas to people and people to ideas. He is a founding principal partner and president at MG RUSH and a certified Six Sigma Green Belt® from Motorola University. CRC Press, part of Taylor and Francis, publishers since 1798, published his recent book, “Change or Die: Business Process Improvement Manual”. Terrence introduced the concept of holism to the field of structured facilitation as a method for keeping discussions on target and aligning deliverables within and throughout an enterprise. As a public speaker and instructor, he strives to reduce ‘noise’ and ‘distractions’ so that groups and teams can be more successful. Terrence is passionate about using and teaching the FAST Facilitation technique so that people and teams make more informed decisions. He made the FAST technique more robust by adding and enhancing decision-making tools such as PowerBalls and the FAST quantitative SWOT technique that is used worldwide by Fortune 1000 companies. Since 1999, Terrence has taught over three hundred classes.

3 Responses to Bad Predictions for Science and Technology

  1. Lorijo Metz says:

    That was fun–and insightful! Thanks

  2. Be careful however, others have argued— our of context (eg, President Obama’s reference to President Hayes’ was recently challenged as inappropriate).

  3. Pingback: Bad Predictions for Science and Technology :: Facilitative Leadership

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