The Future of Technologies that Don’t Yet Exist

Paul Saffo analyzes the historic patterns of technology innovation and adoption, and predicts their impact on entrepreneurship.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: How can businesses best use your counsel?

 

Paul Saffo: I’m a technology forecaster, which means I spend my time exploring the intersection between technological advancements and entrepreneurship. Technology advances our conversation between inventors and society. Inventors propose and society disposes and it’s that process that has delivered all the surprises, some welcome some unwelcome, in our lives over the last couple of decades.

What I really am is a historian of technology who spends most of his time looking at technologies that don’t exist yet. Looking at the historic pattern of technology innovation and adaption can tell us volumes about how things will evolve in the future, and in fact you can pull out some very simple rules.

Perhaps the simplest is when it comes to advance technologies. Never mistake a clearer view for a short distance just because the technology looks like it’s about to arrive in the very near future. Chances are there will be some surprises and in the long run even the most expected of futures tends to arrive late and in completely unexpected ways.

 

Conducted on: June 18, 2009.