Daniel Lemire's blog

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Predicting the near future is a crazy, impossible game

Back in 1903, the Wright brothers flew for the first time, 20 feet above ground, for 12 seconds. Hardly anyone showed up. The event went vastly unnoticed. It was not reported in the press. The Wright brothers did not become famous until many years later. Yet, ten years later, in 1914, we had war planes used for reconnaissance and dropping (ineffective) bombs. It was not long before we had dogfighting above the battleground.

Lord Kelvin, one of the most reputed and respected scientist at the time, wrote in 1902 that “No balloon and no aeroplane will ever be practically successful.” If we could not see ten years in the future, back in 1903, what makes us think that we can see ten or twenty years in the future in 2015?