Over at Forbes, Alex Knapp has taken a look at Ray Kurzweil’s technological predictions for 2009 from his 1999 The Age of Spiritual Machines. This is something we were planning on doing last year here on Futurisms, but never got around to — so we’re glad now that we don’t have to, thanks to Mr. Knapp! He finds most of Kurzweil’s predictions to be wrong. Here’s my favorite item:
“Accelerating returns from the advance of computer technology have resulted in continued economic expansion. Price deflation, which had been a reality in the computer field during the twentieth century, is now occurring outside the computer field. The reason for this is that virtually all economic sectors are deeply affected by the accelerating improvements in the price performance of computing.” Comment: Not only did the tech bubble burst shortly after this prediction was made, leading to a decade of economic stagnation, it’s arguable that more and better computing actually made the financial instruments that caused the financial collapse possible. Wrong in every way.
(See Paul J. Cella for more on how computational mindset in the financial sector can be dangerous.) Kurzweil makes a few good points in his rebuttal, which Knapp graciously posted on his blog — although one should take with a grain of salt Kurzweil’s citation of a detailed report showing his predictions to be highly accurate, given that he doesn’t mention that he himself was the author of the report.