Came across a nice piece by Ray Kurzweil “How My Predictions Are Faring” in which he claims that of 147 “predictions” he wrote of in the 1990s, 115 (78 percent) are entirely correct as of the end of 2009, and another 12 (8 percent) are essentially correct, another 17 (12 percent) are partially correct, and 3 (2 percent) are wrong. While one could quibble on a few here or there, they are essentially sound.
I did a similar review of our 2025 forecasts, “How Accurate Are Your Forecasts?” made in the 1990s last year and got similar accuracy numbers, though not quite as good. My “correct” was 66% (his 78%), my “essentially correct” was 22% (his 8%) and my partial/wrong was 12% (his 15%). Interestingly, a similar exercise done by the former World Future Society President Ed Cornish reported a 67% accuracy rate going back to forecasts made in the late 1960s.
The perception in the media about futurists is that we are wildly inaccurate — the flying cars, paperless office, and other whipping boys get trotted out to support that. This misses the first point that most futurists avoid the prediction game, and instead talk about a range of possibilities (thus by nature some of the possibilities are going to be wrong). It misses the second point that when we are asked to make a most probable or best-guess forecast, we are more accurate than you might think. Andy Hines