Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool – 12-01-12

Salient to Investors:

Nassim Taleb writes:
(Excerpted from “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder”)

Imagining future technologies is unpredictable and won’t be the ones that make it.

The futuristic projections made throughout the past 150 years by Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, George Orwell and other scientists and futurists are not tools that currently dominate the world, such as the Internet. Almost everything that was imagined never took place, except for a few over-exploited anecdotes. Our world is much closer to theirs than they ever imagined.

Restaurants have existed for at least 25 centuries, shoes are hardly changed in 5,300 years, silverware is a Mesopotamian technology, wine has been in use for at least six millennia. Etc. Etc.

Technothinkers tend to have autistic tendencies and an absence of literary culture which is a marker of future blindness because it is usually accompanied by a denigration of history. Literature is about the past.

The past is a much better teacher about the properties of the future than the present. To understand the future, you need respect for the past, curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of the elders, and a grasp of the notion of heuristics – in other words, things that have been around.

Technology is at its best when it is invisible.

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