Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century

Overview

In The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams turns futurist, offering a bold, compelling - and often hysterical - vision of future society. First, the good news: Human nature won't change much; many, if not most of us, will continue to be guided by the immutable principles of stupidity, selfishness, and horniness - much as we are today, but with more advanced technology. But there's more! Drawing on his keen grasp of human nature and social dynamics, Adams daringly predicts key developments in every part of the ...
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Overview

In The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams turns futurist, offering a bold, compelling - and often hysterical - vision of future society. First, the good news: Human nature won't change much; many, if not most of us, will continue to be guided by the immutable principles of stupidity, selfishness, and horniness - much as we are today, but with more advanced technology. But there's more! Drawing on his keen grasp of human nature and social dynamics, Adams daringly predicts key developments in every part of the futurescape. For example, in The Dilbert Future, you'll learn in the future, life definitely won't be like Star Trek, there will be a huge market for technology products that help workers goof off and still get paid, Internet capacity will increase indefinitely to keep up with the egos of the people using it, and your clothes will be smarter than you. In The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams dons his soothsayer's robes and turns his piercing eye (and trenchant wit) to subjects as diverse as technology, the workplace, elections, the battle of the sexes, drive-through pet care, and the possibility of intelligent (or stupid) life on other planets. The Dilbert Future is a mind-boggling blend of farce and fact that plays our social hot buttons like a piano, leaving the reader gasping in both wonder and hilarity.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Countless people look forward to the morning paper because it contains a Dilbert comic strip, a fine way to start the day on a cheerful note. But recently, at least as evidenced by this book, Adams's humor has developed into something snide and derogatory. He sees most people as "induhviduals." Perhaps he is boredjust as we all will become, he declares here, when everything is shared, via the Internet and new developments in video technology. Reading his book piecemeal, one catches more of the facetious humor. Among the 65 predictions here, Adams echoes many scholars in forecasting a work force of freelance experts doing contract work. He hits the target again when he dubs telephone marketing "confusopoly" because it serves only to befuddle the customer about price, since all companies provide essentially the same service. But one wonders why he bothers tackling certain areas, as in Prediction 59: "In the future, there will be drive-through pet-care facilities." Much of the work reiterates George W.S. Trow's conclusion that our civilization is growing increasingly trivial. Therefore, Adams's inclusion of a recommendation for making dreams come truewriting down one's wishes 15 times each dayis bizarre, suggestive of Cou's 1920s maxim that "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887308666
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/14/1997
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott  Adams

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, the comic strip that now appears in 1,550 newspapers worldwide. His first two hardcover business books, The Dilbert Principle and Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook, have sold more than two million copies and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for a combined total of sixty weeks.

Biography

Back when he was a lowly office worker slaving under fluorescent lights and drinking bad coffee at an unsatisfying string of office jobs, Scott Adams would try to stave off some of the mind-numbing boredom he faced each day by doodling a little comic strip about a hapless office drone he called Dilbert. As he worked, Adams filed away the fodder for his fledgling comic strip. Today, Dilbert is officially an empire -- and Adams is the CEO.

Adams didn't start his career path intending to become a workplace warrior. As he told FamousVeggie.com, he graduated high-school as valedictorian "because the other 39 people in my class couldn't spell ‘valedictorian.'" After earning a B.A. in economics at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, Adams went on to earn an M.B.A. at the University of California at Berkeley. Adding an interesting twist to his education, he also managed to pick up a Certified Hypnotist diploma from the Clement School of Hypnosis in 1981.

After college, during his often-brief tenure at a series of low-paying, low-on-the-totem-pole jobs at corporations from Crocker National Bank in San Francisco to Pacific Bell in San Ramon, Adams started to wonder if his sanity-saving doodles really could rescue him from a life spent working for The Man. Acting on a tip from a kindly fellow cartoonist, he picked up the 1988 Artist Markets guide and simply followed the instructions on how to get syndicated. He mailed out fifty sample Dilbert strips, and was offered a contract by United Media within weeks.

Adams's first attempt writing an actual book was 1996's The Dilbert Principle, which became a number one New York Times bestseller and one of the top-selling business books of all time. More than just a compilation of Adams's cartoons, the book included essays on the trials and tribulations of corporate culture. "Each one is on target and deliciously sardonic," said Booklist in its review. "Sometimes too true to be funny." Today, the strip continues its clip as the fastest-growing cartoon of all time, and is enjoyed daily by 150 million people in 1,900 newspapers, in 56 countries.

Transitioning from comic compilations to full books was a challenge for Adams. As he admitted to Salon.com, "Drawing the comic strip is fun -- it can actually increase my energy. I feel good when I'm doing it, and I feel good when it's done. But writing just sucks the energy right out of me. I find that after about an hour of writing sometimes I have to jump on the floor and fall asleep, right now. It's so much harder than it looks."

When he's not helping Dilbert bring a smile to the faces of the working wounded, Adams moonlights as a restaurateur, running two successful Stacey's Cafés in Northern California. He has also founded the Scott Adams Foods company, home of the Dilberito™ -- a protein-packed burrito perfect for the office microwave.

Good To Know

Adams describes himself as a "a cat-loving, vegetarian tennis player."

His past jobs include bank teller, computer programmer, financial analyst, product manager, loan officer, corporate strategist, and pseudo-engineer. Says Adams, "I was incompetent in each of those fields, but for some reason no one ever noticed."

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    1. Hometown:
      Danville, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 8, 1957
    2. Place of Birth:
      Catskill, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Hartwick College, 1979; M.B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1986

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

How to Predict the Future

Some people try to predict the future by assuming current trends will continue. This is a bad method. For example, if you applied that forecasting method to a puppy, you'd predict that the puppy would continue growing larger and larger until one day--in a fit of uncontrolled happiness--its wagging tail would destroy a major metropolitan area. But that rarely happens, thanks to the National Guard.

The future never follows trends, because of three rules I have named after myself in order to puff up my importance.

Adam's Rule of the Unexpected

Something unexpected always happens to wreck any good trend. Here are some examples to prove my point:

Good Trend Unexpected Bad Thing

Computers allow us to work Computers generate 300
100 percent faster percent more work.

Women get more political power.Women are as dumb as men.

Popular music continues to get better.I get old.

Adam's Rule of Self-Defeating Prophecies

Whenever humans notice a bad trend, they try to change it. The prediction of doom causes people to do things differently and avoid the doom. Any doom that can be predicted won't happen.

Here are some examples of dooms that people predicted and how the indomitable human spirit rose to the challenge and thwarted the prediction:

Prediction of Doom Human Response

Population will grow faster than Scientists realize you can callfood supply.just about anything a "meat patty."

Petroleum reserves will be Scientists discover oil in their depleted in twenty years.own hair.

Communism willspread to the All Communists become
rest of the world.ballerinas and defect.

I might have some of the details wrong; I'm working from memory here. But the point is that none of those predictions came true once we started worrying about them. That's the way it always works.

Adam's Rule of Logical Limits

All trends have logical limits. For example, computers continue to shrink in size, but that trend will stop as soon as you hear this report on CNN:

This just in. A computer systems administrator sneezed, and his spray destroyed the entire military computing hardware of North America, leading to the conquest of the United States by Haitian bellhops. More on that later, but first our report on the healing powers of herbal tea.

At that point, we'll say, "Hey, maybe those computers were too small." That will be the end of the shrinking computer trend.

If all trends end, what can we look at to predict the future? There are some things in life so consistent that they are like immutable laws of human nature. You can predict most of the future by looking at these immutable laws and applying logic.

Immutable Laws of Human Nature

  • Stupidity
  • Selfishness
  • Horniness

Those are the things that will never change, no matter what else does. People don't change their basic nature, they just accumulate more stuff upon which they can apply their stupidity, selfishness, and horniness. From this perspective, the future isn't hard to predict.

I realize that by telling you my secrets I'm not only opening my kimono, but I'm also doing jumping jacks in front of your picture window, if you catch my visual gist. But I'm not worried about you learning my secrets, because I'll always be one step ahead of you.

Prediction Two

In the future, you will wish I had never put the image in your head of me doing jumping jacks in an open kimono. The Dilbert Future. Copyright © by Scott Adams. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Interviews & Essays

On Monday, May 19th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Scott Adams, author of THE DILBERT FUTURE.


Andy from New York: Why is Dilbert's necktie always turned up?

Scott Adams: It depends who's asking. Let's just say Dilbert is glad to see you and leave it at that.


Question: What do you think of the cultural tidal wave that Dilbert has created?

Scott Adams: Sometimes it's hard to realize the effect it has had. Yesterday I was in a store and someone was talking loudly about Dilbert and used my name several times while I was ten feet away. It's too bizarre to think about sometimes.


Steven Tyler from NY: Is there any connection between Dilbert and Drew Cary?

Scott Adams: You might notice that Drew has a Dilbert and Dogbert doll in his cubicle. We sent him those. But other than the appearance, there's no connection. I've traded email with Drew, but that's all.


Robin from NYC: Love your comics...they are all over my cubicle. Do you think that the Dilbert character represents the public image of the American office worker, while Dogbert is the secret inner capitalist extraordinaire inside all of us?

Scott Adams: This is a deep question. I think both Dilbert and Dogbert are parts of my personality. Dilbert is my insecure, downtrodden part. Dogbert is my "get out of my way or I'll crush you" part.


Jeff Bell from Nashville: Do all HR departments have a Ratbert? Or do they just all live by his example?

Scott Adams: You mean Catbert. And yes, as far as I can tell, all companies have a sadistic director of Human Resources who is not human.


Mark from NYC: What do you think about when you see guys walking down the street in "Dogbert is plotting to take over the world" T-shirts?

Scott Adams: I think, "That's another 50 cents for me!" But it's very strange, I must admit.


Theo from Concord, NC: Have you ever thought about starting a new comic strip with completely new characters?

Scott Adams: It's hard enough to get one cartoon started. So another seems out of the question. But I have toyed with the thought of having Bob the Dinosaur do his own spin-off.


Mary Cassidy from Franklin Square, NY: Hi, Scott -- I love your comic strip. I was wondering if you started out submitting individual cartoons to publications, or if you approached a syndicate first?

Scott Adams: I tried to get some comics published in magazines once, but it didn't work. Then I followed the directions in a book and submitted comics for syndication. That worked on the first try.


Helen from Detroit: Is Dilbert a virgin?

Scott Adams: Dilbert's tie has been flattened, so to speak. But the details are left to your imagination, Helen.


Mandi from CA: Scott, I have this feeling Dilbert is a closet country-western fan. Am I right?

Scott Adams: No, Dilbert isn't into country-western, except for looking at CD covers of Tanya Tucker in the stores.


Midori from Japan: How do you think about the Japanese readers?

Scott Adams: Dilbert is just entering the Japanese market in book form. And it's in one magazine. I'm still quite uncertain how it will be received. It's very unpredictable.


Elan from Chatam, NJ: Do you get 'drawing block'? What do you do to cure it?

Scott Adams: I used to have to finish a whole cartoon in one hour before work. I did this for several years while at Pacific Bell. I found out that the ones I knocked out in ten minutes at the end of the hour were as popular as the ones I slaved over. So now I just go with what's in my head and I don't have blocks.


Rosemary from Gambier, OH: I read something about 'bodynets,' a futuristic device that people will wear in the future that will allow them to pay bills and interact with others in other bodynets around the world, all while they walk down the street. Can you see Dilbert wearing one of these? What does he think about them? Thanks.

Scott Adams: Dilbert would wear a bodynet if it came in white top and had a pocket for his pens. He'd love it. And I want one too.


The Grape from Montclair NJ: Why do the rest of us have to keep working in cubicles while you get to live the life of Reilly drawing your incredible strip all day? Don't you think we should be taking over Corporate Board rooms and demanding our rights from our individual Oppressors?

Scott Adams: I think you should stage hunger strikes from your cubicles until your companies pay you to stay home and draw cartoons. It's just crazy enough to work.


Chad Luker from Weaver, AL: How do your past bosses and co-workers feel about your strip and its success?

Scott Adams: I'm not sure. I hope they hate it -)


Harold Peat from Knoxville, TN: What kind of women does Dilbert like?

Scott Adams: He likes the ones with a pulse. It doesn't have to be a strong pulse -- he's not that picky. But a pulse is the minimum requirement.


Paul from NJ: When will Alice use the fist of death?

Scott Adams: She has used it a few times to pound people. She pounded Asok the intern into his own pants.


Theresa from New York: Are there ever any management types who admire your work but just don't see that they are the ones being laughed at?

Scott Adams: Many. I hear stories of bosses reading Dilbert and saying, "I know someone just like that!"


Trey Futch from Lawrenceville, GA: I loved the series you did a few years back on "mission statements." How many of your ideas come from readers?

Scott Adams: It's all inspired by readers these days, but I have my own well of experience to draw on and fill out the details of a situation.


Jack from Cincinnati: I worked for a company that had color-coded in-boxes so that the mail boy could tell who was worthy of respect. Should we eliminate the in-boxes or the mail boy?

Scott Adams: Kill the mail boy. You might need the in-boxes later for storage.


Dan from Columbus: My work group becomes a series of cartoon panels when forced to socialize together, at lunch or a happy hour. Will we ever see the Dilbert crew frolicking outside the workplace?

Scott Adams: They have frolicked briefly in team-building exercises. But they are not friends outside of work. That would just seem wrong somehow.


Tommy from Boston: Scott -- how does Dilbert feel about the disappearance of jobs from America to foreign companies with cheaper labor forces? Am I a geek for asking such a poignant question of a cartoon character?

Scott Adams: I'm afraid you are a geek. But don't worry, because soon all the geek work will be shipped overseas and someone will be you but cheaper.


Colette from San Juan Island: Your strip concept is innovative, yet so simple. The closest comparison I can recall is probably Dagwood, and that strip poked fun at the employee; rarely the employer. I wonder why someone didn't tune into these dynamics sooner. Has technology given us unique situations in the office, or are you simply the first to articulate them?

Scott Adams: I listened to what people said by email and adjusted accordingly. That's my secret listening to the readers. I wasn't smart enough to get the boss dynamic on my own.


Amelia from NC: Is Dilbert a boxers or a briefs guy?

Scott Adams: Depends. (Get it?) (Old joke)


Emma from Oakland Falls: Hi! I really like your comics...have the calendar and everything. Alright, I've been thinking about beginning a comic strip of my own, and I was wondering...as a successful cartoonist, do you have any advice? How do you come up with your ideas? How do you manage to draw the same image, exactly the same way, over and over again? (This amazes me, really.) I've asked several cartoonists this question via online (Arlo and Janis guy, Jim Davis, etc.) and gotten all different answers. So...what's yours?

Scott Adams: Send me an email message at scottadams@aol.com and I'll send you my standard reply with books to buy and other useful tips.


Eski-Mo from Alaska: Do you find that it's just a matter of time before Dogbert's intelligence surpasses that of Dilbert's?

Scott Adams: Dogbert is already more street-smart. Dilbert is more technically smart.


Gip2 from The Rocket City: Are there any plans for a Dilbert movie or TV show in the future?

Scott Adams: We shot a Dilbert pilot for Fox and we're waiting for feedback now. It's with live actors, not animation. No movie plans.


Vic from San Antonio: What other cartoon strips do you admire?

Scott Adams: I love Robotman. And Rose is Rose is a masterpiece. I like lots of cartoons for different reasons.


Kathy from Oneida, NY: Where in upstate New York are you from? Seems like folks from New York City consider anything north of the five boroughs to be upstate...definitely a different viewpoint from the rest of us!

Scott Adams: Windham, NY, in the Catskills. I went to college at Hartwick in Oneonta.


The Devil from hell: Does Dilbert believe in heaven and hell?

Scott Adams: I've never asked Dilbert his religion. It wouldn't be polite.


Racheal Moordon from Newark, NJ: Do ANY interns ever survive?

Scott Adams: They don't survive. They become spray painted and used as gargoyles on old buildings. It's a well-kept secret.


Scott O'Toole from NY: What does Dilbert think of author chats?

Scott Adams: They tire his fingers.


Mike Edwards from MA: How do you feel about the hypocrisy of Dilbert, in that it is a part of the very thing it is making fun of, and that its continued existence is based on its ability to continue making money?

Scott Adams: Dilbert makes fun of morons, not capitalism.


Hoolamama from Hawaii: Do you think that by making cubicles smaller, it would bring back the love that was being shared in the '60s???

Scott Adams: That depends on who you have in your cubicle. Look around you and ask if you'd like to be closer to your co-workers. I didn't think so.


Breck Kuhnke from Chicago, IL: Scott, do you listen to music while you draw? Is there anything in particular that inspires you?

Scott Adams: I keep the TV on to do inking (not the writing and original pencil work). Music gets too much in my brain and distracts me.


JP from Soquel, CA: Ever think you may have to rejoin the workforce for more material?

Scott Adams: The prospect is frightening. I prefer to develop my spy network instead.


Wendy Bell from Nashville, TN: Are you familiar with the Scott Adams that created some of the early '80s computer games? Whatever happened to him?

Scott Adams: I'm asked that several times a day. That Scott Adams can be found at msadams@pcii.net or his web page at http://users.mwci.net/~msadams/index.htm


Moderator: Thank you for joining us tonight on barnesandnoble.com! Goodnight, all!
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2002

    Insightful in parts

    This isn't strictly a book of cartoons, but rather a light-hearted look at the future of the world economy with some cartoons thrown in. Some of it makes a lot of sense, like the author's term 'confusopoly' to describe suppliers in some markets (think mobile phone tariffs).

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