Technology is as predictable as the weather
The reason why technology is not predictable centers around the western concept of science, the idea of the scientific process and the reverence that the west has for mathematics.
Western science is obsessed with pulling things apart, testing their components, predicting what future tests will bring and confirming those predictions. This may work well under laboratory conditions where everything can be made the same and results can be reproduced. It does not work well in the real world.
When people try to take that same reasoning into the marketplace, they forget that the technology will not be used in a vacuum. It will not be purchased by machines who work for efficiency. It will be used or not used by people.
People are notoriously unpredictable. They may have habits that they engage in 99 times out of a hundred, but it is the one hundredth time that throws predictions off the mark. Science and mathematics seek the rational. People are not rational.
In order to have a reasonable system for predicting which technologies will take off and which will flounder, the predictor must take into the account the irrationality of people and the companies that they run.
Rationally speaking, if a competitor makes a better product, the other company should either get out of the business or improve its own product. Instead, a company with an inferior product could choose to spend more on advertising and drive its competitor out of business.
Consumers will choose which technologies will win the profit race, but they may only have those technologies that support their cultural ideologies to choose from. A company can create the future by predicting something and getting enough people to believe that it will happen.
Thoughts on Ch. 3 of "Technology Matters" by David Nye.
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