Addiction to prediction

Samanth Subramanian makes a good point:

Our societies are complex systems, turning on a host of visible and invisible axes. Predicting their behavior is, quite literally, the stuff of science fiction; only Hari Seldon, the psychohistorian in Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels, has managed to do it with any reasonable success. But he had the advantage of being a fictional character.

It’s always tempting to talk about “the new normal” and speculate about how the world will be different once all of this is over. I’ve done it myself often enough.

We should, however, keep in mind that we really don’t have much basis for extrapolating from the current situation, inertia is often underestimated, and any prediction probably says a lot more about the person making the prediction than anything else.

It strikes me that the problem with this sort of prediction is that it lazily assumes that things will work out however we want them to. As such, I think it would probably be worth spending a bit less time talking about how the world might look and a bit more time thinking about how the world should look.

One thought on “Addiction to prediction

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