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Zack Kanter's Futurist Keynote on Better Predicting the Future

 - May 12, 2015
In his futurist keynote, Zach Kanter describes the cognitive biases that prevent people from accurately predicting the future. The speaker is particularly interested in why some people hold onto the past to a larger degree than others and why people become emotional and defensive when discussing changes to come. He theorizes humans are hard-wired to underestimate the future and to fail to imagine it correctly.

Kanter thinks the best ability humanity has is to adapt. The futurist keynote unfolds based on the premise that our thinking can be more flexible if we identify our biases and then train our minds to accept ideas we don't like. The first bias is the end of history illusion, which is when people don't like a prediction and conclude it's unlikely to happen. The second bias is identity-protective cognition: the more important something is to our identity, the harder our brain will work to defend it. The third bias is exponential growth, where humans see things in linear terms. Technology follows this pattern, but we predict linearly, which compromises our judgement.