There’s a moment in Terry Pratchett’s most recent novel, Making Money, which will bring a smile to anyone who’s ever been put through the Futures 101 intro which ends: ‘This is not about prediction’. [No important plot points are given away in the writing of this post].

The protagonist, Moist von Lipwig, is being given a tour of Ankh-Morpork‘s Royal Bank, and is shown in the cellars the unfinished hydraulic machine which is modelling the economy of the city. (For economics geeks, The Glooper is based on the real life efforts of the economist Bill Phillips in the pre-computer age to build such a model to demonstrate the circular flows of money in the economy).

“We’re so close to perfection, you see”, said Hubert [one of the designers]. “I really think we’re nearly there”.

“Mr Hubert believes that this … device is a sort of crystal ball for showing the future” said Bent [the chief cashier], and rolled his eyes.

Possible futures”.

There’s a scene later in the book that tells you that when Terry Pratchett heard the one-liner about the former UK Prime Minister John Major – the only man who’d ever run away from a circus to join a bank – that he’d stored it away for the day when its time came.

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