Primary error of futurists

Vitalii Zhdanov

I do not believe in futurists. No matter how hard I try, but the more I listen to technopredictors, the less I believe them.

The main mistake of futurists and the fundamental reason why their forecasts will never come true – is that the visionaries are focused in machinery development only. Just listen, what and how they say: “Refrigerators will place orders for food”, “Autonomous electric vehicles will supersede man-operated transport”, “Nanorobots will restore human body”, etc.  Predictors say in such a manner, like human is not the main thing in the progress. In a best-case scenario people are the secondary factor, if not beyond brackets at all.

And futurists make their conclusions, based on how machinery is being developed now. Indeed, if we continue the current trends, then logic will lead us to all these technological miracles. But trends have one peculiarity, which is often forgotten – they vary. Moreover, owing to unpredictable factors. And the main such factor is person – creature, which is poorly studied and irrational in general. Which spoils all the forecasts, except for weather forecasts.

Let’s just take the predictions of fantasts living in the early 20th century – main futurists at that time. Almost all of them predicted new planets exploration in the short run, mostly, Mars. What did people actually do? They unleashed two biggest wars in history. Because people did not want to conquer new worlds – people wished to kill people. In some degree, only predictions, related to killing methods, translated into reality.

One would think that after the Second World War mankind could focus efforts on journeys to other planets and stars.  But people did not fly beyond the Moon. And then only – our astronauts departed not for the sake of getting acquainted with it, but for the sake of political prestige. It turned out that the mankind is more interested in looking not at the Martian hills, but at TV-shows and studio discussions. None of the fantasts managed to predict such TV-consumption. A bit later mankind opened the possibilities of computers and mobile communication – if only to get stuck in social networks. Who had predicted this before?

The driving force of technologies development is not the industrial opportunities, but the needs of mankind. People wish to express aggression or to be protected from aggression of others – they create demand for new types of weapons. People wish to lose consciousness within pleasant information irritant – they call for new entertainment means. They wish to get attention and relationship – they require possibility to post selfie and to earn likes for them.

And how computers, nanorobots and telecommunications will look like – it depends only on what people will need. Question: what? I can hardly assume, but I doubt that people, focused in machinery development only, may have answer to it. In this very case I have more trust in humanitarians: psychologists, historians, anthropologists, literary scholars – in all those, who study human with emphasis on his needs, motives, activities. They are much better aware of human nature.

After all, not a human shall be in service of technologies, but technologies shall be in service human.

And in speaking of technological miracles – no one denies them. They just may greatly differ from those, predicted by futurists.

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Максим Писаревський