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 http://www.mgrush.com/ for a current schedule).

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About Facilitative Leader & Instructor
Biographic Sketch — Terrence Metz Since the end of 1999, Terrence Metz has been a founding principal partner and vice president at Morgan Madison & Company. For over twenty years, through professional and academic endeavors, Terrence has focused on improving group decision-making. His experience has proven that two important components to effective group decision-making are: 1. Higher quality information assures higher quality decisions, 2. Properly managed conflict, generates more “options” to consider—
and groups with more options are proven to make higher quality decisions. Terrence is passionate about using and teaching the FAST Facilitative Leadership Training technique so that people and teams make more informed decisions. Terrence is the lead instructor and primary curriculum developer for MG Rush Performance Learning. He earned his Six Sigma Green Belt® from Motorola University and wrote most of the existing FAST curriculum. Terrence 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. He introduced the concept of holism to the field of structured facilitation as a method for keeping discussions on target and aligning deliverables throughout an organization. Since 1999, Terrence has taught over two hundred classes. With a Baccalaureate in Science from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and a MBA from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on product/ process development and innovation. Terrence has a P&L background in capital goods markets with highly engineered-products and services (eg, Honeywell). He is an expert group facilitator, instructor, and developer of workflow processes and Voice of the Market inputs that accelerate commercial success. His engagements have included strategic development, business planning, problem-solving, continuous improvement, organizational design, process design and improvement, customer cognitivity workshops, and market-based product development and launch. His book "Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual" from CRC Press was published internationally in 2012. Terrence completed additional graduate work in inter-cultural decision-making processes at Marquette University, is a former board member of the Product Development Managers’ Association, and a long-time member of the IAF (International Association of Facilitators), MFNA (Midwest Facilitators Network Association), TMAC (Technology Management Association of Chicago) and WFS (World Future Society). Most importantly, Terrence is an effective listener and equally adept at teaching FAST classes as well as galvanizing consensus around complex issues for organizations and groups.

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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