How long to plan for growth/change?

From Arizona Adds Digit to License Plates to Keep Up With Growth

The increase in motor vehicles has exhausted the 10.6 million or so combinations of characters on the state’s six-digit plates, said Cydney DeModica, a spokeswoman for the state’s motor vehicle division.

So Arizona is joining New York, California and other more populous states in adding a seventh digit. The extra digit allows for 106.48 million possible combinations – three letters followed by four numbers – which should accommodate a growing population through 2040.

2040 doesn’t seem that far off when it comes to making sweeping changes to infrastructure. Do they know what they might do after that? Or do popular growth (or motor vehicle ownership) predictions not hold valid beyond 30 years? Seems like a perfect problem for long term thinking, the absence of which created technology challenges such as the Y2K bug.

Of course a key difference here is that the Y2K bug failed to address a definite event (the year 2000 would eventually be reached, at a predictable time in the future), whereas the growth in Arizona cars may follow a trend but it’s far from definite as changes in weather patterns and oil prices could conceivably change the trend dramatically by 2040.


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