Apprehending the Future: Emerging Technologies, from Science Fiction to Campus Reality

Bryan Alexander, EDUCAUSE Review, May 28, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is quite a good article that surveys a variety of ways of predicting the future, from the environmental scan to the Delphi method to prediction markets to scenario building. I think they all suffer from the same flaw. "The drawbacks are subtle and largely social. One problem is that Delphi outcomes can be driven by a desire for consensus, rather than actual agreement, meaning that divergent ideas can get quashed.13 In addition, the process can be resource-intensive, especially in terms of time." This is true of all four methods - even in the prediction market, risk is created not by being wrong but by being different. I prefer my own method, which I have characterized in the past as 'intuitive perceiver of patterns', as described in Gibson's Idoru. It's not a collective approach, but rather, an individual approach, where prediction is not a type of process, but rather, a type of expertise.
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