It’s always fun to go back at big pronouncements about future developments. Predictions are hard, especially when pertaining to the future. Nonetheless, there’s something to be learned here — apart from the Gruber’esque claim chowder
. Take the the Facebook story for instance, in which Christopher Mims attests:
Facebook is a large, inefficient engine for transforming electricity and programmers into a down-market place to sell low-value advertising.
Fast forward five years and the same company is not only eyewateringly profitable, accused of inappropriately interfering with a US presidential election, aiding and abetting genocide in Myanmar, and potentially requiring reconceptualized antitrust approaches. And the case isn’t just Facebook, as the profile in Wired neatly shows:
When Uber and Airbnb first arrived, they wore the halo of this broad sharing phenomenon. In July 2012, Alexia Tsotsis penned a glowing early profile of Uber in WIRED. “If this new model of resource maximization succeeds, it won’t just put extra money in the pockets of everyday people,” she wrote. “It will also change the way we think about work and consumption, with every purchase becoming a potential investment, every idle hour a potential paycheck.”
These early views of the sharing economy were accurate depictions of the moment, but poor visions of the future.
It almost feels like we’re increasingly overconfident in our ability to project forward from what little we’ve seen happen in the digital economy. And even investors, who have the most to win and lose from being halfway accurate in their predictions have a mixed track record.
Try to keep this in mind when thinking about how to approach AI or Blockchain or Autonomous Vehicles or anything that’s currently up for discussion and where currently the positions are staked out in how and where to compete to begin with.