086 Technological Forecasting in Perspective

Feedback techniques may ultimately be constructed out of the elements of exploratory and normative forecasting, or will be based on newly developed elements. In principle, it would not seem feasible on the basis of today’s techniques to combine them to form a fully-integrated feedback system covering al levels and directions of techmology transfer. What do seem feasible today, however, are multi-level feedback systems on the basis of a „man-technique dialogue“, and partial feedback systems covering only two or three levels or certain directions of technology transfer.
Feedback systems are a natural consequence of the same conditions that have brought normative forecasting to the forefront. It may be assumed that considerable effort will be devoted to their development and perfection once decision-making techniques have been adopted in areas of broad national and social concern.
„By-pass“ techniques, with the exception of intuitive thinking, have not generally been explored up to the present time (although a few qualitative techniques, such as historical analogy, seek to establish direct forecasting relationships between non-adjacent levels). Their feasibility must still be regarded is uncertain. The basic aim of „by-pass“ techniques is to make it possible to start from one technology transfer level and obtain „random access“ to any other level. An urgent need for such techniques seems to exist primarily in the normative direction. In integrated normative forecasts that range from the highest to the lowest levels of technology transfer, there is an inevitable — and apparently substantial — loss of information. (This would be a problem amenable to exploration by information theory.) In addition, certain significant aspects and values seem to escape ordering by hierachic principles.
It would be of the greatest significance if reliable techniques could be developed that permitted, for example, the derivation of the necessary tasks for fundamental research and fundamental technological development directly from social goals, national objectives, high-level missions, etc. […] Such „by-pass“ procedures would be even of much greater importance if alternative sets of anticipated goals — not only the goals valid at present — were taken into account in future schemes […]. Intuitive thinking on the basis of the „Delphi“ technique […] already seems to be yielding a few preliminary results in this direction by formulating futura desirata in the form of functional technological capability.