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October 24th, 2007
Futurists Can Say the Dumbest Things
As someone who is described as a futurist, I make it a point to read up on what other futurists are saying about the field. To this end, I would encourage you to read this short article in Forbes that was written by James Canton. An even more insightful interview can be found in this lengthy discussion with Ian Pearson, who is a futurist for British Telecom.
On occasions, though, I will come across an article either by—or about—a futurist that will make me cringe. Yesterday, I stumbled across just such an article. It comes from the Australian newspaper, The Age and it profiles Ray Hammond, "a European author and futurologist." In defense of Mr. Hammond, let me begin by saying that I am in wholehearted agreement with this theory of "accelerating exponential technologies"—the same idea lies at the heart of my forthcoming book, Jump the Curve.
Yet, quite surprisingly, Mr. Hammond is quoted in the same article as saying "I can be certain there will be an energy crisis in the next 50 to 100 years." From my perspective, this is an absolutely asinine thing to say. If Mr. Hammond truly believes in the idea of "accelerating exponential technologies," does he somehow seem to think that such technological advances will simply jump over the energy industry?
When I scan the future, I have reached the absolute opposite conclusion as Mr. Hammond. I believe in 50 to 100 years we will be living in an era of cheap, clean, sustainable and abundant energy. As proof, I would submit how advances in nanotechnology are likely to lead to the creation of highly-efficient, low-cost, flexible polymer solar cells. If people doubt this prediction, I encourage them to review the work that companies such as NanoSolar, Miasole and Konarka are currently doing in the field and then extrapolate those advances out 50 years.
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