Thursday, June 17, 2010

No. 12: On future prediction

Figures based on future prediction attract wide attention as an election approaches and campaigns grow furious. Nothing is more appealing to people than figures based on future prediction. Many intellectuals predict the future, and mass media release their predictions. Listening to the reports released by mass media, people believe that an upheaval will come soon and a reform will change the world soon.

People become optimistic or pessimistic depending on the prediction. In the days when PCs started to increase the presence in business, many intellectuals predicted the arrival of a paperless society. However, you still need to depend on hard copy documents in your business. Several years ago when gasoline prices soared, many intellectuals predicted that gasoline price would exceed 200 yen per liter. It is about 130 yen per liter now. All predictions do not necessarily come true. Even the famous book “The Limits to Growth” written by the Club of Rome does not have as high a hitting ratio as people expect.

You have to note that the future is not an extension of present. As the great Peter Drucker told us, the only thing we know about the future is that it is going to be different. It is possible to predict the future of a natural phenomenon to a certain degree of accuracy. If you plant a seeding, it will certainly put forth ears as time goes by. However, you can rarely know the future precisely seeing what is going on now. A temporal enthusiastic trend has the possibility to become a thing of the past. Even hot water in a kettle will become water unless it is heated continuously. In addition, no phenomenon will stay in the same direction. People those who lived in a lap of luxury during the bubble yell out “We need a society without disparity” as soon as the bubble bursts, but they expect next bubble as soon as economy shows the sign of recovery.

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