Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 1 (1972).


Copyright 1972 by the author(s).


Federal, state and local administrative units, both governmental and educational, spend between ten and thirty percent of their time in planning. By its very nature, this planning implies a concern for the future. Many administrators involved find themselves facing the problem of estimating the effect of technological chance and future scientific advances on their administrative entities. Recent space activities, the magic sound of the date 2000 and the woeful predictions of modern soothsayers have heightened the administrators anxiety levels concerning his ability to plan for the changes that will inevitably come. There are some, of course, who see their appointed role as one "guarding the past" and in their zealousness for the past they, by default, choose to ignore the future. That us not to say that we should not study the past, lest we be condemned to repeat it. In this paper, we will concentrate on some of the methodology and rationality surrounding the thinking involved in estimating the future with the data of the present.

The problems and, indeed, the underlying philosophies involved in concern for the future are being examined by a number of national as well as international groups. The RAND Corporation has a very active project entitled "Automation and Technological Change." The foundation, Resources for the Future, has been concerned with this area for many years. The University of Toronto has a "Center for Culture and Technology" currently engaged in research in this area. The American Academy of Arts and Science has a "Commission for the Year 2000." Ball State University has an "Institute for the 21st Century Studies." "Mankind 2000" has groups in Vienna, Austria, London, England, and the Hague, Netherlands. One measure of the United States' investment in the future is the $24 billion investment in R&D in 1968. In fact, it is the size of this expenditure that causes the continuing Congressional concern for partitioning the research dollar among the various allowable alternatives. A recent National Academy of Sciences Report to the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives (Nat. Acad. Sci., 1969), highlighted the necessity for continuing support of basic research if we are to continue to advance our national goals. This report also contains a recommendation for a more rational partitioning of the available dollars.