The December issue of IEEE Spectrum has a great cover story on Ray Kurzweil’s failed predictions. Says John Renne: “Kurzweil is extremely well informed about technologies in development and highly insightful about how they can feed into one another, particularly over the relatively near term. He is very good on trends, and his predictions are thought provoking. For the people who pay to hear him speak or to read his books, perhaps that is enough.
On the other hand, if Kurzweil is right that a failure to understand the timing of technological change is a major reason that businesses fail, then let’s hope that nobody listening to Kurzweil takes his predictions at strict face value. Anyone who was encouraged 10 years ago to hit the market during the ’90s with products or services contingent on cybernetic chauffeurs or widespread real-time speech translation could be in trouble.”
Andrew Odlyzko has pointed to a reliable forecast one could make about technology forecasting: “A fairly persistent pattern is the underestimation of the continuing increases in processing power, storage capacities, and communication bandwidth, and overestimation of the extent to which computers can be made to reason like people.”