Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A humbling look at the future of Los Angeles

In 1988, the Los Angeles Times Magazine interviewed dozens of experts and published their predictions for what the city would be like in 2013.  Many of their predictions came true (computers everywhere, GPS in cars, video conferencing from home, interactive classrooms), but plenty of predictions were wrong (robots everywhere, ISDN video tellers instead of internet banking).
Futurists know that the easiest predictions relate to demographics, since people age in a linear way.  The article didn’t get it completely wrong, although some of the measures are pretty far off.
Prediction Predicted Actual
Population 18.3M 17.8M
Ethnicity White (40%), Asian (9.3%), Latino (40%) Non-hispanic white (28.7%), Asian (11.3%), Latino (48.5%)
Manufacturing Jobs 16.9% 10% (500K out of 5M)
Crime Less than 7406 “index” about 2800
Trying to guess the future twenty five years ago without knowing about the internet or cellphones makes the rest of the exercise not very useful. Also, not knowing about the rise of China (and thinking, as the article did, that Japan would remain strong) further clouds whatever tidbits of truth you might get.
Predicting the future is hard, and this guess is far better than many other attempts. Still, the more I see how actual predictions turned out, the more humbling it all seems.

(via Singularity Hub)
Los Angeles Skyline