For a light-hearted start to the year, we’ve built a “prediction” generator. You can try it out here, or read on to find out a bit about the thinking behind it.
A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam.
Fredrick Pohl, prolific pulp sci-fi author
The turn of a new decade is a chance for both reflection and for looking forward, the practical upshot of which is that Linkedin feeds are clogged with the prognostications of “thought leaders”. These predictions typically suffer from a couple of problems. Firstly, they can come across as unbearably pompous and secondly they can seem either glaringly obvious or absurd (not to mention wrong). That said, the best predictions provoke thought. They’re not necessarily about getting it right but more about making us think about the world we live in in a different way, alerting us to the possibilities for individuals, groups and technologies to affect change both good and bad.
With this in mind, we set about building a simple mad libs style generator to create predictions for the next 20 years. We mostly aim for funny but hope for the occasional insight or provocation through a kind of randomly produced Exquisite Corpse. As with the genuine article, these generated predictions veer haphazardly between the mundane, the absurd, and the nonsensical. Sometimes the predictions will be plausible “open source route planning for white van man” kind of exists already. If you squint closer and “Investors will get excited about big-data fintech for trend forecasters” is a headline that wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of a newspaper from any time in the last 5 years. Most predictions though will be more bizarre; what might “the Netflix of mumblecore” look like and can a business really hope to sustain itself purely through monetising the output of a small cadre of young New York filmmakers? Is “the rise of conceptual apartheid for comedians” probable, possible, already here, or nonsensical? Time will tell but for now, only you can decide!