Predicting the future of technology: How is that done?

Feb 28, 2012

Every month on The Digital Future, Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson shares his analysis and predictions with KPLU’s Dave Meyer. Today, we learn how he looks into the future.

Mark has been making predictions about technology and economics since 1995. His publicly graded accuracy rate over the past 10 years is over 93%.

Some of his more notable predictions:

  • Steve Jobs' return to Apple in 1996
  • The global liquidity collapse of 2007
  • The development of what he calls the "CarryAlong" format which includes tablets and netbooks

How does he make these predictions?

He doesn't rely on the number-crunching employed by many forecasting firms. Steve Lohr at The New York Times describes him as "unfettered by statistical analysis".

Mark says statistical analysis looks backwards in order to look forwards and he doesn't find that approach very helpful.

Instead, he relies on pattern analysis:

  • Drop your emotional biases about whatever you're looking at.
  • Look clearly at what your seeing, almost in a childlike way.
  • Do your best to see things as they really are and pay attention to details.
  • Look for patterns in those details that will help you see how things will turn out.

Predicting the future is an art. You need to do your research, but you also need to trust your instincts.

Researchers at the Columbia Business School recently published a study on predicting the future.

They found that people who trust their gut feelings make better predictions than those who don't. The researchers conclude that those feelings represent what we know about a subject, both consciously and unconsciously.

Mark agrees with that finding, and says his gut feelings always agree with his predictions.

The Digital Future” is a monthly interview with technology expert Mark Anderson covering the online world and all things digital. The feature is published here on the last Tuesday of every month and airs on KPLU 88.5 during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.