Search For Tommorow

Best Face Forward

If you find the burden of world peace a little overwhelming, consider the idea that although personal computers, fax machines, modems and the Internet have made doing business easier and more efficient, the technological advances of the past 20 years are nothing compared with what the future holds. "The impact of the computer really hasn't been felt yet, and that's probably something that will happen in the next 20 years," says Birch.

Yet even the most powerful technological innovations will not in themselves bring about the good or prevent the bad. As Celente points out, the telegraph was expected to revolutionize the world, but it didn't prevent the Civil War. The advent of radio and movies changed the way we communicate, but it did nothing to prevent two World Wars. The introduction of television certainly has done nothing to prevent violence on the American streets or the dissolution of the American family. And we all know the computer revolution has not by any means decreased our workload.

"Yes, the digital revolution is a major trend. Yes, it's changing the way we live and work," says Celente. "But it's not more powerful than ideologies. It's just a tool, a means to an end. This stuff is only a technology. It's when ideas change and people change and what's being communicated changes--that's when things really change."

Perhaps it is entrepreneurs who are best suited to face the future. "Some people look at problems and pull their hair and moan. And others say `This is a problem, and I can turn it around and make it into an opportunity,' " says Bell. "A problem almost always [presents] an opportunity, if someone has the imagination and the lateral thinking to see it."

Take comfort, too, in knowing that in reality, the future comes on gradually, so intertwined with our everyday existence that grasping the concept is easier than it seems. Herein lies the key to putting the future in perspective. The future will happen in spite of us; it's not ours to control. And while we can attempt to anticipate and manipulate time, we certainly don't have the power to regulate it. "Regardless of what technology comes up with," says Celente, "there will still be only 24 hours in the day."

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Search For Tommorow.

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