Predictions are nearly always gloomy. They are rarely about good or happy things. It doesn’t matter whether the source is Nostradamus or your local TV weather presenter the forecast will always contain more grey skies and depressing precipitation than sunny weather and good times. Let’s face it, most predictions are synonymous with the end of the world anyway – and this is only backed up by modern science going one step further and predicting the eventual death of the entire universe according to their current theoretical model.
In short, if anyone can see the future it is always so dark you might as well forget about acquiring a pair of shades and go in for that heavy duty Maglite instead.
So why, with that in mind, do people and corporations persist in their thinking that predictive activity of any sort is a desirable thing?
Because I know to my cost that it isn’t.
Take Google predictive search.
Trying to guess what somebody is searching for is only ever going to be deeply annoying to the person doing the searching. It’s like going into a warehouse full of junk to search for a specific object only to be met by a doorman who holds up every single item contained within and who continually asks “Is it this? Is it this? Is it this?”
No. It effing isn’t. Just shut the eff up and I will tell you what I am searching for!
There are other problems too.
I’m currently 5 books into a 14 book serialised story. The first book was published over 20 years ago and the final instalment was only published last year. I have purposely – possibly insanely – not read the last 6 books. I got to a point and thought, “I’ll wait until they are all published and then start from the very beginning and read through them all, properly indulging myself.”
In an idle moment on Monday – it’s never good to be idle with the Google search box open in front of you; it only ever leads to trouble – I thought I’d type in the names of some of the main characters from the story just to see some fan art, just to see whether other people’s perceptions of what these characters looked like matched my own.
It should have been a harmless activity. I just wanted some pictures. Some casual art work.
Thanks to Google predictive text though, I’d no sooner typed in a particular character’s name when Google very kindly proffered the suggestion “[character’s name] dies in last book”.
I refused to follow the link. I even tried to unsee it. I tried to not remember it. Tried to wipe it out of my mind but I knew that would be an impossible task (see, another negative prediction).
I know how Google works. That suggestion was there because lots of other people have searched for it. And they’ve searched for it because it is a fact. So-and-so dies in the last book.
So I now know that this character is going to die. For all I’m trying not to let it, the knowledge is hanging over me now as I continue to make my way through book 5. And I know it’ll be there through book 6 and 7 and all the flaming rest.
Thank you, Google. Thanks a lot.
If I type in the word “butler” will you append the words “did it” to the end?
So. If anybody still wants a prediction allow me to provide one:
All predictions, whether by psychic or computer, are always, always going to lead to deep dissatisfaction.
And unlike Nostradamus’ my prediction is going to come true and come true very soon indeed.
I 100% guarantee it.