A view from the Dark Side

In my last two posts, I briefly discussed the rapidly expanding impact of genetic engineering and the similar strides being made in other cutting-edge sciences and technologies. Before I move on to other topics, I have one more thing to share with you.

In my prior posts, I was discussing what scientists were doing to help people. The dangers lie in the potential for harm. This is perfectly normal in human endeavor. We are not perfect. When we create something “good”, something “bad” is likely to tag along with it and we need to be aware of that. At the very least, we do not want to be blinded-sided by a “shocking” future announcement only because we are ignorant of the direction research is taking us.

However, there is another, greater danger: the possibility that there are people purposely using new technologies to harm us. Perhaps the two most dangerous groups to worry about are terrorists and criminals. They are the least controllable and the least transparent.

As before, I am once again assisted by someone who has delivered a talk on this very topic. And so I turn over my post for a moment to Marc Goodman and I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen.

I may be unusual in this regard, but I have never before watched a YouTube video that has more “thumbs down” than “thumbs up”, as this one does, where the video wasn’t either disgusting or just plain awful. I really do believe that those who effectively voted against this video are not angry with Mr. Goodman or his facts. I believe they are responding to the nature of the threats and the people behind them. I sure would be! But I gave it a “thumbs up” because I believe it’s important for us to be aware of this, even more so than of the work of legitimate scientists and technicians.

My purpose in presenting this “trilogy” of blog posts is not to frighten people or to deny the validity of basic scientific research or the technologies derived therefrom, although there is plenty to concern us with both. My primary purpose is otherwise.

We are constantly flooded with “analysts” and commentators who make predictions of the future, one year from today or fifty or more. I’m sorry. Predicting the future with any accuracy is beyond human capability at this time. If we ever get to that point, we will likely call ourselves something other than simply human. But predicting the future in this period of unfolding history is just plain ridiculous. You have hundreds of thousands of professionals, whether scientists or criminals, hard at work to take you by surprise and they are going to do it. Above all, predicting the future without regard to the subjects I have been discussing is foolish.

Predictions can be wonderful, in one sense, even when they’re negative! They leave us with the comforting thought that there is an orderly world out there that we can depend on. This is especially useful for people who see the future with fear. If the future prediction is positive, especially glowing, we are comforted. Things will get better, for sure. If the future prediction is negative, even to the point of extinction of the human race, that can be comforting too for people who are scared silly of the present. In three words, misery loves company. If the world is going to hell in a handbasket, at least it’s not just me, they think. It’s everyone. Yes, that is comforting when you don’t know what else to do.

At this blog, I make a purely arbitrary distinction between predictions and forecasts. Predictions are specific and absolute in nature. Forecasts are general and open to change and further interpretation. Good analysis, like good science, always remembers that “further research is necessary.” I wish many so-called financial, investment, political, and social “analysts” could show as much discipline and honesty as a student in biology at any decent university in the world.

I forecast. I have been doing it professionally for nearly five decades. But I do not predict. And in professional life, I have never lived through a period where predicting is as foolish as it is today. What these three posts do is provide you with a glimpse at three reasons for saying that.

When all is said and done, all the predictions out there tell us little or nothing about the future. All they can tell us is where we are today, and there’s no guarantee they are doing any better job of that. These are tough times and they are not going to get any easier, anytime soon.


I write when time allows. This is as much a “personal notebook” for my use as I work on ideas than anything else, but the public is very welcome. If you wish to be notified of new posts, just enter your email address at the upper-right of this page. I have no use for email addresses. I already have too many in my “address book”. Rest assured, yours will be kept private.

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