December 12, 2019
I recently read about a project undertaken by McKinsey for AT&T in 1980. It seems AT&T asked McKinsey to estimate the size of the cell phone market over the next 20 years.
McKinsey worked its magic, crunched its numbers and came back with an estimate of 900,000 phones in operation in the US by the year 2000. AT&T, seeing the market as too small, decided to place its bets elsewhere. McKinsey underestimated the market by 99 percent, but there is no word on whether they ever sent a refund to AT&T.
So, the lesson is, take predictions with a shaker of salt.
I make non-predictions, or, rather, I predict what will not happen each year. It’s an easier way to be right.
Here goes the list for 2020:
- Despite Time naming Greta Thunberg its “Person of the Year” there will be no progress on curbing carbon emissions. That’s because no one will confront China about opening up a new coal-fired electrical plant every week or so.
- I will not write a breakthrough first novel in 2020, although I have every intention of doing so.
- Similarly, I will not break 90 in golf, despite practice, lessons and endless frustration.
- By the end of 2020, I will still not be able to play Bach’s Two Part Invention #8 all the way through.
- Neither Elizabeth Warren nor Bernie Sanders will be president of the United States.
- There will not be as much “buzz” about artificial intelligence in 2020 as there was in 2019. People will get bored and move on to something else.
- I will not lose that last five pounds and get down to my fighting weight of 170.
- I will not go skiing in 2020, especially since we just got rid of our old skis and boots.
- Autonomous vehicles will not be seen in any significant numbers on our roads and highways.
- The stock market will not increase as much in 2020 as it did in 2019.
There you go. I feel fairly safe in making all these, although who knows about #2. This just might be the year.
By the way, I should mention a couple of sites that are chock-full of wonderful factoids, ironies and paradoxes:
Philip Greenspun’s Blog (whose motto is “a posting every day, an interesting idea every three months or so”)
On to the next thing.