Technology forecasters need to answer questions about what is known and what is unknown: they must even ask if it is possible to know the future. Answers to these questions guide the selection of forecasting techniques and provide a paradigm for structuring the forecast. This section provides a framework for characterizing and managing uncertainty. The framework is then used to examine the position of scenario analyses among major families of technology forecasting techniques (Chapter 2). Finally, a word about the adaptive paradigm is provided.
7.1.1 Uncertainty Frameworks
Knowledge about new technological systems can be characterized quite simply; either the system and its behavior are known or they are not. Complete system knowledge means that system operation and the full consequences of its behavior are known, and the means to control or adapt it to achieve desired current and future outcomes are understood. Clearly, this is a tall order for any new technology. Thus, knowledge will be a matter of degree.
Table 7.1 compares what is known with what is knowable. This simple matrix, inspired by the Johari diagram (Luft and Ingham 1955), is sufficient to examine categories of technological knowledge.
|System Is Knowable||System Is Unknowable|
|System Is Known||known knowns||known unknowns|
|System Is Unknown||unknown knowns||unknown unknowns|
These are futures about which forecasters: