Larry Niven's Iron-Clad Rules For Predicting Future Tech

How can you predict future technologies? You can't, according to five great science fiction authors quoted in the new CIO Magazine. But at least you can predict what types of problems will crop up.

You shouldn't even bother trying to predict the future of technological progress, argues The Space Merchants author Frederick Pohl:

No sensible science-fiction writer tries to predict anything. Neither do the smartest futurologists. What those people do is try to imagine every important thing that may happen (so as to do in the present things which may encourage the good ones and forestall the bad) and that's what SF writers do in their daily toil.


Chiming in Nancy Kress (Dogs) says it's foolish to try to predict the course of technology more than about 15-20 years out.

Ringworld author Larry Niven is more sanguine, laying down a couple of iron-clad rules for writers seeking to predict a future technology:
1) Think about basic human goals that will never go away, like immortality or instant travel. Then think about how someone could make them happen.
2) You can't invent the car without also inventing traffic jams and gas shortages.

The whole article is worth checking out, if only to see Halting State author Charles Stross say, "Donald Rumsfeld was right." [CIO]

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