What is the word for when you can't predict the future because of the rapidly changing landscape.

For example, the state of technology in the future. Due to the boost in devices in the last few years, the state of devices in 20 years is "_".

I thought it began with the letter S or P...

  • a shifting landscape? a moving target? Jan 30, 2014 at 18:42
  • Beyond the horizon?
    – MT_Head
    Feb 5, 2014 at 0:00

2 Answers 2


Unforeseeable, or in keeping with your recollection of its being an "s" word, speculative?


You are, perhaps, talking about the chaotic influences on outcomes. The butterfly effect. The inability to perceive the eventual outcome due to the massive potential for variation, through those subtle influences. How, indeed, to sum all that up in a word? There must be a word for it, as it could apply to the evolution of a species, to climate change or even to an ant climbing to the very top branch of a mature oak tree.

...How about 'capricious'?

Meaning: 1. subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change; erratic: "He's such a capricious boss I never know how he'll react".

...But here it is used subtly, not as a sudden jolt, but methodically random nuances, slowly over time:

Quoting Walter Bagehot: "Our law very often reminds one of those outskirts of cities where you cannot for a long time tell how the streets come to wind about in so capricious and serpent-like a manner. At last it strikes you that they grew up, house by house, on the devious tracks of the old green lanes; and if you follow on to the existing fields, you may often find the change half complete."

But also perhaps...'elusive', as in difficult to nail down where things are going to be.

Then again, maybe not. :-/ nice question. I look forward to seeing what comes back!

  • Getting closer with your answer, thanks for going in depth on it. Yet i'm still searching for the word. The last time i heard it was on a TED talk. I'm now watching hours of tech talks to rediscover the word! Feb 1, 2014 at 16:27

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