Futurists and Futurology

Possible – Probable - Preferable

Are you familiar with these two terms? Hint: History studies the past, while futures studies,

(Futurology), is the study of postulating possible, probable and preferable futures and the

worldviews and myths that underlie them.


In general terms, a futurist is a type of consultant who makes predictions on future trends

they identify. Recognizing trends and why they are recognized, are based on facts, and

stringent methodology in order to support predictions with a rational, persuasive and

articulate explanation. As consultants, their point of view can have global implications as to

what types of products or services their clients should be investing research & development

expenditures. Futurists will also advise organizations including governments, about future

risks, risk management, and scenario analysis and planning. Because information is constantly

changing and changing fast, corporate leaders, are willing to spend money to learn about

what's coming.

Recently I had the opportunity to hear a presentation given by the world renowned, Daniel

Burrus, “An American technology futurist, innovation expert, business adviser, author, and

public speaker in the areas of business strategy and innovation.” (The New York Times has

referred to him as one of the top three business gurus).

One of the discussion points I found fascinating was Mr. Burrus’s explanation regarding the

difference between “Soft and Hard Trends.” Briefly, a Soft Trend is susceptible to changing

circumstances. It is a projection based on statistics that have the appearance of being tangible.

It's something that might happen. On the contrary, a Hard Trend is where facts point to

tangible evidence that something will happen! A good example of this is Additive

Manufacturing, the very industry Bluestreak I Bright AM serves today.

While AM technologies have been around since the 1980s, the industry went through its hype

cycle during the early 2010s and now, is coined as the “Fourth Revolution,” obviously a Hard

Trend we are experiencing now! The increasing adoption of Additive Manufacturing in

automotive, aerospace and medical industry is continually growing.

But, what about other technological Hard Trends?

Here is the Top 20 Technology-Driven Hard Trends Predicted by Dan Burrus:

#1 Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing Applications

#2 Adaptive and Predictive Cybersecurity Systems

#3 Big Data and the Use of High-Speed Data Analytics

#4 Advanced Cloud Computing Services

#5 Virtualization of Storage, Desktops, Applications and Networking

#6 Virtualization of Processes and Services (On-Demand Services)

#7 Blockchains and Cryptocurrency

#8 Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Apps and Devices

#9 Smart Virtual e-Assistants and Voice-Enabled Devices

#10 IoT Becomes Increasingly Intelligent

#11 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing) of Finished Goods

Personalized manufacturing of finished goods using 3D printing will grow exponentially. 3D

printers build things by depositing material, typically plastic or metal, layer by layer, until the

product is finished. Originally designed to print prototypes, they are increasingly being used to

print final products, such as jewelry, iPhone cases, shoes, car dashboards, parts for jet engines,

prosthetic limbs, human jaw bones, blood vessels, organs and much more. This allows

companies to manufacture one-of-a-kind or small runs of items quickly, locally and with far

fewer costs.

Visit here to view the other 9!