The Art and Folly of Prediction

Go to any court conference these days and you’ll find that a main topic, if not THE main topic, is “change.” In my previous post, I discussed my sense that the rate of change occurring in the courts surpasses almost all current expectations. A part of me hopes I’m wrong. However, I’m keeping that part of me well away from my wallet.

What this means to making predictions about the future of the courts is that it’s far less likely to be anywhere near as correct as predictions from 1960 could have been for the year 2015. Historically, virtually all attempts to predict the futunwo xanderre err on the side of being way too conservative. In 1960, no one was predicting most of the things that define our world today, such as instant world-wide communications; immediate access to virtually all facts, written information and other forms of content; and the ability to store, access, and interpret all that information, just to name a few.

Nevertheless, there are some extremely valid reasons for looking toward the future and making predictions. That plans will have to change and adapt is no reason not to have plans. Indeed, the reverse is true: the more that change is inevitable and unpredictable, the more important it is to put significant effort into making the best predictions possible and making plans for dealing with them.

Therefore, in a demonstration of my complete fearlessness of being completely wrong in public, in my next few blogs, I plan to offer predictions of what may lie on the path ahead for the courts. With each will come some thoughts as to the role and effect Electronic Content Management might have should such changes come to pass.

Here are a few ground rules for long-range prediction.

  • Choose what is meant by “long range.” Is it five years? Fifty years? In the nineties, 25-30 years was standard for long-range planning. Moore’s Law suggests that technology alone will advance through 15 doublings, which is a factor of over 30,000 times what it is today, in 30 years.
  • Be aggressively original. You’ll still end up being too conservative.
  • Try not to bet the farm.
  • Be strategic. A classic organizational strategic map includes not only the enterprise, but suppliers, customers, competition, distributors, market, regulators and business environment. So, what changes will be affecting courts’ suppliers, such as the Bar, Law Enforcement, etc.? How about its customers, including what kind and their demographics?
  • Identify what is highly UNLIKELY to change. Death and taxes are good bets, and both have implications for court futures planning. There are others.
  • Eschew wishful thinking. Note that this rule does NOT mean to be pessimistic. It DOES mean to avoid assuming that things the courts hold dear – a public desire for impartial resolution of disputes or guaranteed respect for judges, for example, will endure like the Law of Gravity.
  • Really look at trends. DO NOT assume they are fads that will slowly abate. Rather, assume they will accelerate.
  • Assume that everything will scale to infinity. How much information storage space will a court need? How long will court information have to be kept? How secure does court information have to be (in all dimensions)?

Applying these principles, the next several posts will identify what I believe are “megatrends” that will affect the courts well into the future and beyond. Each one has implications across many dimensions.

So off we go – perhaps over the deep end; but hey, it ought to be fun. The trend to be examined in the next post is

Access to specialized knowledge, information and expertise is heading toward ubiquity.

Stay tuned.

One response to “The Art and Folly of Prediction

  1. I can’t wait to see the next installment.

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