I love this from the May 2012 issue of Wired (How To Spot The Future) on looking into the future and spotting the next big thing. This is from Paul Saffo, managing director at the Silicon Valley investment research firm Discern - -
"There are four indicators I look for: contradictions, inversions, oddities, and coincidences. In 2007 stock prices and gold prices were both soaring. Usually you don't see those prices high at the same time. When you see a contradiction like that, it means more fundamental change is ahead.
The second indicator is an inversion, where you see something that's out of place. When the Mexican police captured the head of the drug cartel, in the photos the perpetrators were looking proudly at the camera while the cops were wearing ski masks. Usually it's the reverse. To me that was an indicator that Mexico was very far from winning its war against the cartels.
Then there are the oddities. When the Roomba robot vacuum was introduced in 2002, all the engineers I know were very excited, and I don't recall them owning vacuums. I said, this is damn strange. This is not about cleaning floors, this is about scratching some kind of itch. It's about something happening with robots.
Finally, there are coincidences. At the fourth Darpa Grand Challenge in 2007, a bunch of robots successfully drove in a simulated suburb. The same day, there was a 118-car pileup on a California highway. We had robots that understand the California vehicle code better than humans, a bunch of humans crashing into each other. That said to me, really, people shouldn't drive."