One of the biggest challenges with facilitation is to build consensus about a future state. In a light-hearted sense, as we approach the holiday season, here are some statements that likely garnered some respect along the way—albeit short-lived.
- “Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments.” Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus, AD 10.
- “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?” President Rutherford B. Hayes to Alexander Graham Bell, 1876.
- “It doesn’t matter what he does, he will never amount to anything.” Albert Einstein’s teacher to his father, 1895.
- “I have anticipated [radio’s] complete disappearance — confident that the unfortunate people, who must now subdue themselves to ‘listening-in’ will soon find a better pastime for their leisure.” H.G. Wells, The Way the World is Going, 1925.
- “The problem with television is that the people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it.” The New York Times, after a prototype television was demonstrated at the 1939 World’s Fair.
- “It would appear we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements; they tend to sound pretty silly in five years.” Computer scientist John von Neumann, 1949.
- “Man will never reach the moon, regardless of all future scientific advances.” Radio pioneer Lee De Forest, 1957.
- “Despite the trend to compactness and lower costs, it is unlikely everyone will have his own computer any time soon.” Reporter Stanley Penn, The Wall Street Journal, 1966.
- “But what is [the microchip] good for?” Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968.
- “I predict the Internet…will go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” Bob Metcalfe, InfoWorld, 1995
These were first compiled by Laura Lee and published in The Futurist, September-October 2000, For structured facilitation support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training session offered around the world (see http://www.mgrush.com/ for a current schedule).
- Bad Predictions for Science and Technology (mgrush.com/blog)
- George Dyson’s history of the computer: Turing’s Cathedral (boingboing.net)
- Five Reasons to Hold a Facilitated Session (mgrush.com/blog)
- Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson (guardian.co.uk)
- Quantum Theory: von Neumann vs. Dirac (plato.stanford.edu)
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