Basically, futurists are really, really good trend analysts
Having "futurist" on your business card has an intriguing ring to it, but it can be misleading. "I never predict or forecast. In fact, I think my role is to remind people that no one can predict the future," says Sheryl Connelly, the longtime in-house futurist at Ford. (If you're wondering what's going on at Ford these days, they're exploring technologies like smart infotainment centers that will sync up with Amazon Echo and all your smart home gadgets, not to mention their full-scale "city" designed to test autonomous cars in real-world conditions.)
"A more apt title for me might be 'polite contrarian' -- so if you say go right, I’ll advocate to go left," Connelly says. "If we’re planning for a future of roses and bunnies and 'Kumbaya' utopia, then what happens if the future is deep, dark, ugly, cynical, corrupt, and full of suffering? I make no bets about which one will happen, but if we can come up with plans that can weather either end of those extremes, then we don’t need to know the future."