Useful information for students: who are futurologists and what do they do
We will tell you about the specifics of the futurologist’s profession, about the reliability of forecasts regarding the future. As a student, I was highly interested in this profession but could not find all the information back then. I also wanted to write my paper for economics related to this topic.
Features of the futurologist
Forecasts for the future have been made since ancient times – from fortune tellers to philosophers and religious thinkers. Even in the Holy Scriptures on the pages of the Old and New Testaments, there are prophets – Moses, Isaiah, John the Theologian. The most famous predictor of the Middle Ages is Nostradamus, whose name has become iconic.
The first scientific forecasts appeared towards the end of the 19th century and began to develop actively in the 20th century. The most famous research works of that time, touching on the topic of the development of future technologies, include:
“Germany in 2000” by Georg Ehrmann, 1891;
“Anticipations” by H. G. Wells, 1901;
“Daedalus, or Science and the Future” by John Haldane, 1924.
The very definition of “futurology” was introduced by Osip Flechtime in a letter to Aldous Huxley, who liked the term.
Methods of futurology:
- The ones that are aimed at highlighting the common through a questionnaire or the Delphi method;
- statistical methods: extrapolation, correlation analysis, regression analysis;
- drawing up a scenario for the future, searching for analogies of a possible future with existing systems;
- role-playing games, discussions, negotiations, and other group methods related to future planning and forecasting.
Futurologist in his work is guided by his inspiration and a variety of research methods. Futurologists do not include those who resort to magic and supernatural techniques, as well as those who are engaged in predicting the near future, and who give obvious answers regarding events.
There are many writers and journalists among futurologists. They do a lot of research, observe technological trends and create their works based on personal observations, analytics, and forecasts.
The first futurologists in history published conclusions, then began new research for the next book. Modern specialists, in addition to research activities, give group consultations and speak to the public – today this is one of the business directions.
What do futurologists do?
Here is a simple algorithm for the work of a futurologist to understand the specifics of his activities.
The threat of World War III looms over the world. Specialists analyze such information as:
- who will become potential parties;
- what is their current situation;
- current prospects of modern developments;
- features of ethnic traditions and the structure of political systems;
- resources available to the parties;
- characteristics of the personalities who are the leaders of the opposing sides
All of the above is the basis for any military conflict. Futurologists take into account a random factor in the forecast, for example, the sudden death of one of the leaders of the countries. Another example is a strike or an armed uprising of the population in one of the states where an important resource is located (an industrial plant, for example). In the predictions of futurologists, other factors covered in the mass media are also taken into account. The expert calculates all the scenarios taking into account the probability theory, which acts as a kind of limiter.
The predictions of contemporary futurists have come true
Most of the forecasts are related to the sphere of scientific technologies that affect the life of society. Among the popular and frequent predictions is the presence of drones and flying cars that should enter everyday life. While they have not become commonplace, however, many predictions have exactly turned into reality.
Smart home and the Internet of Things
According to the forecast given by visionaries and futurologists in the last century, the Internet of Things and accompanying technologies will appear. Businessman D. Bezos said that there will be many devices connected to the Internet.
Bill Gates described a system that monitors the house and shows who was at home in your absence. Today, such devices have already been created that can not only monitor the housing remotely but also change the temperature, use an intercom and check smoke detectors.
Futurologist Ray Kurzweil believed that in 2019-2020, embedded microcomputers will be everywhere — in jewelry, clothing, and furniture. However, this has not happened yet, although the trend in this direction is gradually developing.
In reality, 21 billion devices were connected to the Internet in 2021.
The 1984 forecast of the American entrepreneur Steve Jobs predicted that computers would take into account the interests of their users, save information, communicate with a person, be trained, and even begin to offer their help.
Futurologist and technical director Ray Kurtsvel in the 90s of the last century suggested that computers would learn to accept voice commands. According to his forecasts, this should have happened already in 2009-2010.
What is happening in reality? Alice, Siri, Alexa are digital assistants whose services are used by many people around the world.
Steve Jobs predicted 20 years ago that purchases would be made over the Internet online. In the mid-90s, he predicted problems and a crisis at stores that many people would stop visiting.
At the end of the 90s of the last century, the director of Amazon said that the purchase of goods would be carried out online – from food to hygiene products.
Indeed, modern research suggests that part of online purchases in 2019 is 42% compared to 21% in 2015 — in 4 years the figure has increased by 2 times.
Predictions of writers and futurists of the past
Skyscrapers and computing machines
Science fiction writer Jules Verne has a dystopia “Paris in the 20th century”. The book is not as widely known to readers as other works of the author, although it gives a detailed description of the model of the society of the future.
Vern predicted the system of an electromagnetic subway running on compressed air — the whole city worked on this fuel. Such air was kept in special tanks, and pumped through windmills.
The work also mentions skyscrapers, street lighting, and drones “gas-cabs” on hydrogen, computers, and an electro photo telegraph system — a collective prototype of all types of communication before the advent of the Internet. Jules Verne described the technologies of the XX century precisely.
If compressed air has remained a fantasy, then a hydrogen-powered car is part of our reality.
The movement of objects in tunnels thanks to compressed air occurred half a century before the novel was published using a pneumatic mail system. And 50 years after the publication of the book, an article about a vacuum train on an electromagnetic field is published in the journal Scientific
American. The idea became the basis for the creation of I. Musk’s Hyperloop.
Helicopter, submarine, parachute
Leonardo da Vinci lived in an era of great discoveries, when people were exploring other lands, and for traveling they needed to improve the available tools and technologies. The famous artist believed that a person could learn to fly and be underwater. He formulated the basis for aeronautics, developed a plan for a helicopter, a submarine, and a parachute. His authorship also belongs to the creation of a diving suit and a tank. The plans and schemes developed by him will be “adopted” after 5 centuries.
In the process of observing natural phenomena, da Vinci thought out the concept of such devices as:
- ball bearings;
- rolling mill;
Futurologist is in every sense the profession of the future. It is assumed that they will soon stop recruiting such people to the staff of companies, and will prefer to look for specialists among freelancers. To create a product that can interest users, they will attract representatives of different specialties with the skills of a futurologist. They can be engineers, designers, teachers, philosophers, etc. Futurology can be an additional activity that a specialist will combine with the main one.
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