The Critical Errors We Make When Assessing The Impact Of New Technologies
Buzzworthy technology can get overhyped way too quickly, only to then get drastically undersold. In other words, we overestimate a new technology's impact in the short run and massively underestimate it in the long run.
This is known as Amara's Law.
Consider computers, or even the internet. People went crazy over them initially, only for these technologies to take a while to really change anything until they eventually surpassed expectations and changed the world on a massive, unpredictable scale.
Have you heard of the Gartner Hype Cycle? It's an interesting model, inspired by Amara's Law, that maps this exact pattern for businesses and organizations.
In the early days of a new technology, everyone from industry experts to media pundits to investors starts predicting the future based on early wins. However, technology needs to overcome a mountain of challenges to truly take off at scale. People forget that, and we end up overestimating its impact.
Over time, knowledge and abilities grow exponentially. Network effects kick in, creating new applications and previously unpredicted use cases. This can lead to way more people using the technology than we initially thought.
And that's when we see game-changing shifts in markets and user behavior. Suddenly, technology is everywhere, dominating in ways we never saw coming.
"We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run."
— Roy Amara
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