Futurology is predicting the future by looking at and studying current trends. It can be used in business, in the military, or to showcase what general society will look like in the future.
By making assumptions of how current trends like fertility, migration, death and disease patterns will continue it is possible to model options for how the population of the future will look. For example if we assume the current increases in life expectancy continue to then by 2050 it will be normal for the majority of adults in high income countries to reach their 100th birthday and that has significant implications for individuals and at national and global levels.
Similarly it is possible to extrapolate from current behavioural or technological trends to model potential future cultural norms and societal expectations. Although very few people saw the potential of the internet in the early days it has fundamentally changed societal norms and behaviours, as technology evolves businesses need to adapt and reform their offer – just think about how contactless payment has changed the industry of cash management in retail.
Futurology isn’t an exact art but it has practical applications and can really help organisations shape their strategy in both the short and longer term to prepare for the diverse options of predictable market trends.
At the 1900 World Fair french artist Jean-Marc Cote created a suite of cards predicting what the future in the year 2000 might look like. His future predictions at the time were pure science fiction, but it’s interesting to see how some weren’t that far from today’s reality as the pictures below demonstrate.
Futurology can be both fun, intellectually challenging and ultimately a fundamental business tool to explore the future and see the art of the possible and the science of the probable.