How Far into the Future Can we Make Predictions about Technology?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday, I stumbled upon details of a new book coming out from  John Battelle, the co-founder of Wired Image of discoveryentitled What we Hath Wrought which will, according to his blog, “give us a forecast of the interconnected world in 2040, then work backwards to explain how the personal, economic, political, and technological strands of this human narrative have evolved from the pivotal moment in which we find ourselves now.” So, I tweeted out an interview from 2011 with Brian Solis asking Battelle about the book.

Then, to my surprise, someone on Twitter commented that 30 years into the future is too “far-fetched,” as he believes that we really can’t correctly predict what’s going to happen in 5 or 10 years in the technology industry. Fair enough. But with 2012 drawing to a close, I’ve already noticed some of the 2013 technology prediction blogs surfacing on the web. So, it’s got me thinking. How far into the future can we really predict what’s going to happen with emerging technologies?

Should we even bother trying to predict what’s going to happen (even a year from now) at all? Or, are all prediction articles, books and blogs merely “sex and fluff,” as my Twitter commenter put it, that sell well or get re-tweeted frequently (guilty as charged)?

I still think it’s worth it to provide a vision of what might happen. It can only help others to dream up new ideas that push the envelope even further. But maybe I’m just one of a small few who likes to think about that stuff. What are your thoughts? Please share your comments below.

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