A view of the future – from 1968.

I’ve also recently seen a list of predictions for the year 2000 – made in 1900 in the Ladies Home Journal. Some of them are stunningly prescient, others are directionally correct (ie if you take them as analogies) while others are clearly increments of the current/emerging technology.

It’s interesting to reflect upon how our future visions are constrained by the technologies that seem to have a following wind at the time, and therefore the difficulty of envisioning radical, non-incremental developments.

Perhaps this is why science fiction has been such a rich source of inspiration: by thinking consciously far in advance of “now” and “next” the authors can concentrate upon human needs and opportunities, free from the constraints of “how to” (just imagine that transparent aluminium has already been invented, for example!).

While innovation can certainly come from pondering needs and current capabilities, it’s worth also trying to project beyond the current planning cycles and incrementalism to a ‘future’ just to see what might emerge.

Interestingly too this is part of the agenda that my friend and collaborator Nico Macdonald is pursuing via his Innovation Agenda.