Nobody Wants 2019 Vision


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No More Predictions Please: What’s Your Range of Possibility for 2019

It’s time for new year’s predictions.

But 2019 is too difficult a year to try to envision in comparison to the year that comes next.

2020 was the even year in our sights for the last 20 years. 2020 represented a horizon line in the future. 20/20 vision. A time when all would become clear.

Were we right?

Were the ambitious goals you set the right goals? Did you even know what the rules of the game would be?

Will we get the world we envisioned?

By 2020, our doctors should be able to map your personal genome as fast as she draws blood. Our average doctor doesn’t know what to do with this data, but there are plenty of unicorn startups competitively offering to sequence my DNA.

By 2020, particle finance will substantially reduce unwanted risk, predicted Charles Sanford, a retired Chairman of Banker’s Trust, in 1997. He was right about the bleed of physics into finance, wrong about risk if you know what happened to Banker’s Trust.

By 2020, coastal cities would start to struggle with sea level rise and other issues related to climate change, predicted University of Texas students in 2005. They were right.

By 2020, we should be controlling the world through microchips in our brains, predicted Intel. I don’t have a microchip in my brain (that I know about), but I do have AirPods, and I can buy EEG meditation headsets that claim to calm my brain, and a few days ago a researcher who is part of the Chan Zuckerberg initiative to end all disease published details of a wireless brain device implanted in a primate that records, stimulates, and modifies its brain activity in real time, sensing a normal movement and stopping it immediately. What could go wrong?

In retrospect, it seems silly to give a list of predictions for something as short-term as next year.

What’s at fault is not the statistical, scientific, or technical capability of the forecaster.

Nor is it the lack of imagination of the seer.

What’s often missing in predictions is the admission that we don’t know how this year is going to unfold.

What might work better?

Let’s present not one bold prediction or a list of 10.

Let’s generate options.

A range of scenarios.

An abundance of potential outcomes.

Let’s shift the focus from the accuracy of the prediction to reveal the assumptions in our worldview, today, that may cause blind spots in our ability to see.

The markets will go sideways, downward, and upward.

Politics will be distracting, divisive, and uniting.

AI will be efficient, terrifying, and empowering.

You see how this goes:

Our working lives will be….

Social justice will be ….

Crypto will be….

Privacy regulation will be ….

Virtual reality will be ….

Climate change will be ….

The only way we can predict the future is by allowing ourselves to see a multiplicity of perspectives and generating scenarios.

None of this is just happening to us. We create the world we want to see.

So before the prediction season starts, let’s remember: what does your range of possibility look like for 2019?