Statement About Theodore 'Ted' Gordon

For Release

Wednesday
February 28, 2024

RAND notes with regret the death of Theodore “Ted” Gordon, a noted futurist who helped pioneer the early development of the Delphi method at RAND. The now-famous technique is used to reach consensus among experts.

In 1964, Gordon coauthored the first large-scale Delphi study, which focused on long-range forecasting and is credited with leading to the widespread adoption of the research method. Many of its expert predictions came true, including artificial organs to keep people alive, automated-language translators, and robotics that would eliminate jobs.

“The extensive use of the Delphi method across the decades and many disciplines illustrates how important RAND's past accomplishments are to helping us peer into the future,” said Jason Matheny, president and chief executive officer of RAND. “More than a half-century later, Ted Gordon's research continues to resonate.”

In 1966, the Delphi technique inspired a board game called Future that Gordon helped create with fellow futurologist Olaf Helmer, his study coauthor. It allowed players to manipulate variables and make predictions about future outcomes.

Gordon began his career at McDonnell Douglas, where he became chief engineer on a Saturn launch vehicle used in NASA's early Apollo flights. He also helped found the Institute for the Future, which specializes in long-range forecasting, and the Millennium Project, a global research center.

Gordon worked at RAND as a consultant from 1963–64 and again from 1967–68.

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