Roy Amara was a scientist with the Institute for the Future. One of his many contributions was the coining of what others have called Amara’s Law. Amara’s Law speaks to how good or bad of a job we do in assessing technologies’ effects on our future. The law states:
“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
Amara’s Law intrigues me because it tells me I will fail twice. Nevertheless, I appreciate Amara’s Law because it challenges my critical thinking. It reminds me I can make mistakes of judgment. It heightens my awareness because I do not want to assess matters incorrectly.
As businesspeople, we make decisions every day based on technology’s effects. I am sure many of those decisions are good. I am equally sure some of those decisions are bad. Therefore, we have a powerful opportunity embedded in three crucial questions we must never stop asking:
1—What short-term technology effects am I overestimating?
2—What long-term technology effects am I underestimating?
3—How will the answers to those first two questions affect my decisions today?