As the American philosopher Yogi Berra once said, It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. And as the late Will Rogers (left) remarked, It isn’t what we don’t know that causes us trouble, it’s what we do know that just ain’t so.
In that vein, Cody Willard at Marketwatch just published a mildly amusing post, “Top 10 Dumbest Tech Predictions of All Time.” A few entries are depressingly predictable such as comments disparaging the utility of the telephone or computer. Overall, though, it’s worth reading as a window into the problems of lineal thinking when confronting a dynamic industry.
Alas, when it comes to technology ideas, there’s no shortage of bad ideas. Remember Flooz? Mercata? Cyberrebates.com? Didn’t think so. Still, it’s worth adding two recent gems to Willard’s list including:
“By joining forces with Time Warner, we will fundamentally change the way people get information, communicate with others, buy products and are entertained – providing far-reaching benefits to our customers and shareholders.” That was Steve Case on January 10, 2000 announcing the AOL/TimeWarner merger that he and Ken Novack had been pushing. Further comment superfluous.
“Two years from now, spam will be solved.” That was Bill Gates speaking to the BBC at Davos in 2004. Alas, his prediction is just slightly off — to the tune of about 70 billion a day, according to this article in The New York Times. It must’ve been the altitude.
This farce could go on and on since chronicling absurd tech predictions is like shooting fish in a barrel. For the ultimate chronology of awful (and mostly hilarious) predictions, check out The Experts Speak by Chris Cerf and Victor Navasky.