Alexander Lynn

I help brands build delightful digital products. Currently available for limited consulting work.

A Brief Rant on Tech Predictions

It’s funny how every December, an immeasurable amount of tech obsessed news outlets simultaneously feel compelled to bless us with a rambling selection of tech changes they believe will come true in the New Year. Whether it’s the arrival of this, or the death of that, their hailstorm of predictions is virtually inescapable.

Prediction is fine. This is what we humans are built to do. Ever since we grew frontal cortexes some 2 million years ago, we’ve been simulating the future in our very minds. Unceasingly analyzing, presuming and predicting. Analyzing. Presuming. Predicting. 

When you think about it, it’s a hell of an evolutionary advantage. We’re the only specie in the world that’s been gifted with this capacity_ an innate ability to simulate future outcomes based on comparable past experiences – stealthily steering us out of harms way. And yet when it comes to technology, we recurrently end up using a disproportionate amount of this skill, passing fleeting judgements on things as trite as the size of our next digital device's screen.

We have a bit of a problem in this respect. A problem with our metrics. We micro analyze - unceasingly computing the slightest variations in product features - because these are the changes that are the most apparent to us. And at the end of the day, we get enthralled in it all and forget to look at the broader picture. We forget to ask why. We forget to ask how. And we forget to look at ourselves.

The exact shape or specs of the future iPhone won’t matter in the long run. What will matter are the amazing things that these objects will enable us to collectively accomplish. What will matter are the sweeping shifts that these things – these things that WE create – will impart on our culture. On our species.

Technology matters. It matters a lot. It eventually defines the very places in which we live, and the people we come to be. It extends our world in remarkable ways and it’s a damn shame we confine ourselves to looking at it almost exclusively through the narrow lens of hardware/features. We focus on the buttons, the widgets, the glitter, and forget to take a second to collectively gasp in amazement at what we’ve accomplished, where it’s brought us and what we’ll be able to do next. Huddled over our tools, trying to predict the shapes of the future things that will surround us, we fail to think about the magic that we monkeys are accomplishing with our creations.

The things that we make are amazing. The shape that they take is important. But blindly predicting the price, color, shape, size and speed of our peers creations will doubtfully get us closer to consistently outputting products that deserve a place in our lives. Let’s never forget that at the end of the day, whether our tools are fast, slow, big or small, the only real thing that matters is what we end up doing with them.

So as the New Year crawls upon us and countless future hardware predictions emerge, let's take the time to shut our eyes and forget our typical metrics for a second. No hardware. No widgets. No features. Just us - in all our glory - creating and predicting things that future generations will either praise or forget.

This article is my 45th oldest. It is 550 words long