The perils of prediction. In our modern age of social media, if you make a prediction for a short-term outcome like weather, and it doesn’t come true, you’re subject to criticism. The recent ‘threat to life’ weather predictions made by the Bureau of Meteorology didn’t happen on Friday night as forecast. Weather warnings were issued via the news, the Facebook posts of the State Premier, and by text message to state residents.
Some regional towns were evacuated but because we didn’t have catastrophic rains in the metropolitan areas to the extent we were warned of, the predictions are being mocked. This concerns me, not that the bureau made a big deal out of something that hasn’t happened as they said it would, it’s the weather! My concern is that if people become dismissive and stop heeding these warnings, it could have disastrous results.
It also brings to mind my own reluctance to step out on a limb and share my predictions. At the Future of Work conference on Tuesday the first keynote speaker was on a panel and asked about what he expected to see in the future, he refused to predict because “projections are notoriously inaccurate”. Another panellist responded with a different sentiment that I appreciated a lot. He said he’d like to think it’s an opportunity to talk about what you want to see happen. This resonated strongly with me.
It gave me more courage to share my insights on the future, and what I’d like to see happen. I’ve played with this a little in my recent posts on the Future of Marriage, the Future of the TAC and the Future of Lawns. This is the tip of the iceberg. I have a lot to say about the future I want to create, and the concerns I have that we’re not prepared for what’s coming. We are facing a massive shift in the labour market and the skills we’ll need to ride the wave of disruption are not highly valued, nor encouraged in our society, not to mention widely prevalent.
The biggest prediction I have is that we are likely to experience a significant psychological crisis as the wave crests and people are no longer defined by their role at work, their level of productivity or contribution to the economy. This will likely lead to existential crisis and destructive anti-social behaviour if we aren’t able to find a new sense of purpose and a place to belong in society.
Until then, let’s talk about the weather and criticise those predicting the weather, because that’s much easier. While that’s going on, I might start writing more about the future I’d like to see.
This is post 30 of 45 posts for 45 years.