Digital Futures: an agenda for a sustainable digital economy

James Wilsdon and Paul Miller

Living in a dot-com world

Predicting the future is a hazardous business. History is littered with prophecies that went awry. Take Charles Duell, the US Patent Commissioner, who in 1899 proposed shutting down the Patent Office on the grounds that ‘Everything that can be invented has been invented.’ Or Thomas Watson, the former CEO of IBM, who declared in the late 1940s that ‘there is a world market for maybe five computers’.1

Forecasting trends in information technology is particularly tricky. Who could have anticipated the white-knuckle ride of the e-commerce sector over the course of 2000? The year opened on a wave of dot-com euphoria, as ...

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