Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Some of my poor predictions

Looking back, it might seem that I am good at predictions, e.g. through calling an Oscar winner well in advance (and without actually being very interested in the Oscars).

Whether I actually am good at predictions is a different question, as issues like coincidence and confirmation bias (when I look at myself) and filtering of cases (when others look at my texts; a golfer might brag about an eagle and leave a handful of bogeys unmentioned) must be considered.


However, as only a small minority of my predictions, be they successful or not, are published, the risk of a distorted impression is much smaller for my readers.

Today (2024-02-23) reminds me of a major failed prediction: We just saw the first (unmanned) moon landing by a private enterprise through the moon-lander Odysseus.


I have not looked into the details of who is responsible for what, but it is clear that even this effort was not a private enterprise acting alone but in cooperation with NASA (and, maybe, some other parties).

In a twist, the mythical name-giver might be best known for his inability to get from point A to point B in a reasonable time.

As far back as the early 1990s, I saw the future of space travel in private enterprises, especially through “space tourism”, predicting that space travel would take off like a rocket, as soon as someone offered space-tourism opportunities. Note similarly the development of passenger flights with air planes or how climbing Mount Everest went from an accomplishment for the history books to a tourism industry within decades. (And in terms of number of “passengers”, Mount Everest might have been the better analogy.) We might then have seen a billionaire pay millions for a ride-along on some mission and half-an-hour in space in 2000; and a few dozen millionaires pay a hundred grand each in 2010, while the billionaire stepped on the moon for another few millions. As to 2024, who knows?

(Similar remarks apply to private launches of satellites and whatnot, this might well be the better business model, and satellites do count in the thousands. However, putting humans into space was an idea that fascinated younger version of me. At ten, getting into space myself would have been a dream come true. My current enthusiasm is far lesser, but, had I been a billionaire, I might still have been interested in such arrangements.)

In reality? We now have 2024 and not much has happened. Space tourism is a thing, but it has (literally and metaphorically) not taken off as I had anticipated, and we are a long way from the first tourist on the moon. Indeed, while the-first-human-on-the-Moon-since-the-1970s is in planning (as a non-tourist!), even this does not seem to be imminent—and the-first-human-on-Mars (still non-tourist!) remains sci-fi.

I still believe that the future of space travel is in the commercial sector, but space tourism, at least, seems to be a matter for very different time scales than I had anticipated.

(I will not make renewed predictions as to what might happen when, and even the aforementioned 2000 and 2010, and the amounts mentioned, should be seen more as representative of principle than as actual predictions—but I would certainly have expected much more from space tourism by 2024 than we have actually seen.)

Looking at other failed predictions, the range is enormous, even if I limit myself to the early 1990s.

With an eye at my above comments on coincidence, filtering, whatnot, a particularly interesting case is Ione Skye—a young (at the time) and beautiful actress that I seemed to encounter everywhere around 1992. I assumed that she was headed for stardom. After that, she more or less disappeared. Looking at Wikipediaw, she has had a decent career, but has been very far from stardom. More to the point, going by her listed filmography, my 1992 encounters appear to be my only encounters, showing a great influence of coincidence. What if I had seen her less often in 1992 and more often after that?


To say exactly what works I have or have not seen based on just the names is tricky over such a long time period, but to my best estimate, the post-1992 era includes only the 2007 “Zodiac”, where she appears to have had an uncredited part. Uncredited parts are usually small and I have no recollection of spotting her. (But after roughly 15 years, it might well be that I simply did not recognize her.)

A further reservation is that I cannot guarantee that the filmography listed on Wikipedia is complete.

Politics include a few depressing cases, including how it, in the early 1990s, seemed that the evils of the Left, in particular Marxism, were defeated and we could look forward to saner politics and a freer world, but where, by 2024, Western society has been overrun by various Leftist extremist ideologies, many with a Marxist background, how these extremist ideologies have increasingly become normalized, and how sane political and societal thinking is increasingly condemned as extremist. Not only do very large portions of the population seem unable to think and/or think for themselves, they are also woefully ignorant of topics like economics and 20th-century history.

A first Swedish disappointment was how the 1991 election victory of the non-Leftist coalition, and a rare chance to turn Sweden around, was followed by a 1994 victory for the Social-Democrats.

A depressing family of cases include usability of this and that. I recall in particular how I fiddled with the manual controls to my TV, trying to set stations, and how I thought about how much better the future would be—when I could just take a floppy disk with the frequencies and whatnots of the local channels, put it in a TV, and be done. As of my last exposure to TV-settings (in, maybe, 2017, as I rented a furnished apartment in lieu of a long daily commute), this has still not happened. Instead, the user seems to be reduced to an automatic channel search, which, while saving him the manual effort of setting channels, implies that a channel not found at time A cannot be added at time B without a new search, that he cannot arrange channels in a reasonable manner, that he might not even be able to delete unwanted channels, whatnot. The more the shame, as the greater number of channels would have made a solution with a floppy disk resp. USB flash-drive particularly beneficial—download the locally relevant data as a text file, re-arrange/modify/delete/whatnot in an editor, upload to the TV.


Floppy disks were the vastly dominant type of external/portable/whatnot storage at the time. While I did not expect them to remain so for the duration, I did expect the TV-improvement to come before they became obsolete. As is, chances are that TV will have disappeared before the improvement comes—and a case could be made that TV, while still popular, has already been made obsolete by various Internet services. (Examples of things that I did not predict, however, include the switch from combinations of passive storage + reader, as with a floppy disk and a disk drive, to active media without separate readers, as with a USB flash-drive. Whether I, back then, expected TVs to have drives of their own or to be attachable to an external drive, I do not remember.)


My memories of that 2017 TV and the interactions with it are vague by now, and different TVs might well have different capabilities. A particular annoyance, however, was that the German public TV provided endless duplications of the same or almost same contents. Having more than one of each was wasteful and I would have loved to just delete the excess, but doing so was impossible. (And any manual deletion would have been nullified by any later channel search.) As is, I might have had two dozen “private” channels without duplication and five dozen “public” channels, of which four dozen were duplicates.

Channel surfing, trying to find something watchable among the many channels, was a particular horror: Where analog TVs switched channels virtually instantaneously, digital have a short delay. I then went through sequences of noting that the current channel had nothing interesting, clicking to the next, seeing a noticeable delay, finding the same contents on the new channel, clicking to the next, seeing a noticeable delay, finding the same contents a third time (or the contents of some other already visited channel), clicking to the next, etc.

As is, the low quality of German TV made me forego the TV entirely within, maybe, a week of moving in. (For similar reasons, my TV watching dropped drastically with my move from Sweden to Germany in 1997, and I have not even owned a TV for the clear majority of my time in Germany.)