We investigate possible, probable and preferable futures in order to support decision making in the present against a range of timeframes. Technology developers can especially benefit from our work, as the pace of innovation in some high-tech areas is characterised by such ferocious velocities and sudden, unexpected turns that baffles even the most informed professionals:
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” — Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, 1895
“… the age of electricity and of copper will be short. At the intense rate of production that must come, the copper supply of the world will last hardly a score of years. … Our civilization based on electrical power will dwindle and die.” — Ira Joralemon, American economic geologist and mining company executive, 1924
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Accredited to Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
“Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.”- Dennis Gabor, Noble prize laureate, 1962
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olsen, president, chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977
Technology foresights are our attempts to describe the long-term future of converging technologies, such as informatics and communications technologies with the aim to identify the emerging innovations that are likely to produce the greatest economic and social benefits.