The Lindy Effect Or How To Predict The Future

50 years ago, we imagined that in 2021 a good part of humanity would be using flying cars, traveling through space, or teleporting. Some predictions came true, such as the use of video calls or cell phones that can answer many questions … Others do not. The question is, is there a tool that allows us to better predict the future?

Illustration cutout from a few decades ago showing how people imagined the future

Fortunately, there is a relatively simple rule that can be very useful to predict the future considering the power of ideas to transcend time and space: the Lindy effect. In essence, this principle starts from the maxim of the philosopher Sophocles:

«You can kill a person, but you cannot kill an idea»


The name of the «Lindy Effect» has its origin in an article that Albert Goldman published in 1964 in The New Republic magazine based on the observation of the world of theater. In the 1960s, the Lindy’s restaurant in New York was a popular hangout for Broadway actors. After observing with curiosity, the behavior of the entertainment world, especially the successes and failures of the stars, Goldman formulated the following hypothesis: the actors who had a greater exposure in the past would also have a greater exposure in the future.

Photograph of Broadway plays

Several years later, the «Lindy Effect» was taken up and popularized again by Nassim Taleb in several of his books such as «The Black Swan» or «Antifragile». Taleb restated the Lindy effect as follows «the life expectancy of non-perishable objects such as ideas or technologies is proportional to their current age.» This effect implies reverse aging for concepts or techniques. That is, the life expectancy of a non-tangible entity can be expected to be at least double its past life; that is, they do not age, rather as more time passes, their expectations of continuing in the future increase.

Taking the «Lindy Effect» as a guide, we could venture to make some predictions for the future:

  • • The participation of audiobooks will continue to displace printed books – the oral transmission of information dates to prehistory
  • • We will continue to use wheeled transport for the next 100 years – the invention of the wheel dates to the Neolithic era
  • • Shakespeare and Cervantes will continue to be widely read and studied in the 22nd century – their publications have been in circulation since the 16th century.
  • • We will continue to use maps to guide us – the oldest maps date back to 2300 BC in Babylon

Many times, we are dazzled by a new technology, ideology, product, or invention. The Lindy effect helps us put these innovations into perspective. At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves how this invention represents a continuation of an older idea or technology that has proven its usefulness and has survived over the years.

Current market research methodologies can help decipher the success of a new product or service. If you are interested in evaluating the future potential of your new idea or product, contact us to request a quote at