Timing Really Is Most Everything
I’ve said many times before, being a futurist is like being a meteorologist, you are usually right, but at the wrong time. I think it’s futurist’s bane always to be right – but too early.
I feel as humans, we can look at the clues around us, and with some vision, put together a relatively reasonable scenario of where things will go.
We see things like Amazon Go or the Beta Store or Wheelys and think that yes, one day, we will all shop in stores where there are no workers. As we walk into the store, the store will detect who we are, and it will watch us pick up items in the store and put it into our cart, bag or basket, and then automatically charge us for the items as we walk out. We see this happening in a few places, and it’s not hard to predict that it will be more widespread.
Or autonomous cars – we see it happening and being tested in several areas, several states have made changes in their laws to help facilitate the use of autonomous vehicles. We go to conferences like CES and see not only autonomous vehicles, but also autonomous flying cars (which look like a large drone, sized to carry humans), and we here that companies in Dubai and Los Angeles are starting to test them.
We hear about Elon Musks idea for Hyperloop, a train so fast that it can take us from San Fransisco to LA in an hour, something it takes six hours to drive now. We also hear about great recent strides in AI, powering virtual assistants, computer vision and machine learning, creating human facsimiles who may even be able to think like us one day. The exciting thing is that all of this is totally possible – some of it is also possible today.
It’s not the technology which is holding us back – many of these technologies exist and can be combined to build all of these innovations. So why aren’t they here today?
Why did it take 300 years to go from flying machine concept (as Leonardo envisioned during the Renaissance) to the 20th century to invent human flight, then so soon after, the jet engine? It’s not the technology – its humanity itself.
We don’t let ourselves run as fast as we can – we hold ourselves back and say, “should we do this” instead of “let’s see if we can” first. All of these and other technologies prove the saying “everything takes longer than you think.”
Why is that?
Its because we are not all aligned to the future – we are not all interested in making those visions a reality.
When we don’t all align, then we are pulled back or at least pulled over. When someone puts up their hand and says “let’s not go there,” then more time is spent thinking “should we” that time is spent merely doing. If we are just aligned on any of these visions and said “let’s do this,” then maybe we’d be closer to the future we all thought would be here by now.
When I was younger, I thought that by the year 2000, we’d all have figured out how to arrest aging, or at least live a lot longer. While we haven’t stopped aging, we do live longer, but not by a lot.
It’s the same old story: we can see the future, sometimes as clear as day, but we can’t execute on that future.
I’m not sure why we hesitate, because executing the future creates it.
The next time you have a great idea in front of you and you are waiting to execute, remember that creating a future where that idea is realized is totally up to you. The more often this happens, the more of the future will become real.
Make sure that you are a part of executing that future, and not just predicting it.