Turns out that the Economist was also a Futurologist

Having spent more time wading through his book, it turns out that Robert Beckman (of The Downwave and Into the Upwave fame) was ahead of his time on the technology as well as the economics front:

All individual knowledge will become more and more a question of knowing where to look for information…by the year 2020 we will have refined the process of gaining teleaccess to digitalised libraries – which will effectively be a vast databank of information, discovery and theory – old and new.

It looks like google book search and google scholar are going to get there 10 years ahead of schedule.

4 thoughts on “Turns out that the Economist was also a Futurologist

  1. Having worked for Mr Beckman I was pleased to see the interest in a man who was obviously ahead of his time in his predictions and analyses I did not know that he had died but his work will survive as a legacy

  2. Having helped publish his books in the UK all I can think is that he might have been good at the future, but diabolical at the present. The amount of people who took his advice in The Downwave to get out of property due to the “imminent” crash in prices – just as property so its biggest rise in history to that date is lamentable. I used to answer the phone at the publishing house with people literally weeping at the other end of the line, as they watched their life savings’ buying power shrink to nothing while they wasted money on rent. Of course, this was all made up for in Into The Upwave (1988), in which he advised those poor unfortunates to get into housing… just in time for the ’90s property drop. He was no futurologist. He was a false prophet who made a fortune from advising others into destitution and desperation. He himself advised that “Supertiming” in investments was everything. If that were true, then he was nothing.

    By the way, I know what I’m talking about, I am credited as one of the editors of Into The Upwave. I still kick myself that I missed the double “W” in DOWNWWAVE in the title pages.

  3. Matthew,

    It must be awful to be associated with such misery, but I don’t think Bob was as bad as you seem to think. Perhaps had he factored in “The Pill”, the rise of “Feminism”, “2 job-families”, “The Tech Boom”, the shift of manufacturing jobs to Asia, “The Dot-com Boom” which involved upgrading to 32bit hardware, operating systems and bespoke software involved in finance and insurance” and all the other things that affect the economy in the real world, his predictions would have been more accurate.

    I think he was way ahead of his time, as were the learned gentlemen he referred to (i.e. he just quoted others really) Thomas Gresham, Ricardo, Isaac Newton, Nicholai Dmitriovich Kondratieff, and all the rest then he would have realised that timing is at best a guesstimate.

    As a budding writer myself, I appreciate missing a comma or hyphen, apostrophe or “Quotes” can be frustrating, but compared with some of the writing I see all the time… Don’t kick yourself too hard.

  4. ALmost all the elliot wavers who have tried to make major predictions have got it wrong. They often get it right once, then fail every other time. Elliot wave is a useful investment tool applied in a limited and controlled way, but it is not magic.

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