I've argued that the development of advanced AI could make this the most important century for humanity. A common reaction to this idea is one laid out by Tyler Cowen here: "how good were past thinkers at predicting the future? Don’t just select on those who are famous because they got some big things right."
This is a common reason people give for being skeptical about the most important century - and, often, for skepticism about pretty much any attempt at futurism (trying to predict key events in the world a long time from now) or steering (trying to help the world navigate such key future events).
The idea is something like: "Even if we can't identify a particular weakness in arguments about key future events, perhaps we should be skeptical of our own ability to say anything meaningful at all about the long-run future. Hence, perhaps we should forget about theories of the future and focus on reducing suffering today, generally increasing humanity's capabilities, etc."
But are people generally bad at predicting future events? Including thoughtful people who are trying reasonably hard to be right? If we look back at prominent futurists' predictions, what's the actual track record? How bad is the situation?