The Problem with Predictions


forecast-crystal-ball-predictionIn his 1949 novel titled “1984,” George Orwell made ambitious predictions about things that would exist 35 years into the future, such as technological innovations in surveillance technology, speech-to-text software and missile detection systems. Many of those things became a reality during that timeframe.

In 2007, a report by NBC Nightly News made predictions for 10 years into the future. One correct prediction concerned the equivalent of today’s ubiquitous Wi-Fi and cloud systems, in which wireless communication technology is “almost invisible” and links all rooms in a house as well as the ability to access public and personal data from anywhere. Another successful prediction foresaw the creation of a breathalyzer-type device to detect various kinds of cancer.

In the “not-quite” column, NBC also reported there would be widespread biometric technology for security and privacy. We’re not there yet, but some manufacturers are starting to use fingerprints to unlock cellphones. Another prediction we have yet to achieve is a remedy that successfully treats Alzheimer’s disease. The latest treatments are able to mask Alzheimer’s symptoms, but are unable to slow its progression or impact the underlying disease.

Futuristic predictions can be interesting to ponder, but we have to be careful how much we read into them. In some ways, a 1940s author with an active imagination was more on target than scientific-based projections made just 10 years ago.

The same holds true for many things for which we tend to rely on guesswork, such as what teams will compete in the Super Bowl, when the next terrorist strike will happen or what investments may outperform in the market. When it comes to your finances, consider working with a financial advisor to create a financial strategy that will help you work toward your financial goals. 

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