Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Alternative Futures I Introduction

As any student of the ideas of Nassim Nicolas Taleb would know, the idea that we can accurately predict the future is laughable. Randomness is built in to the structure of the Universe, and certainly into the structure of society. This is not to say that we have no data about how some effects may come from specific causes. However, any prediction must be tenuous and solely made in broadest outline- the more detailed a forecast, the more inaccurate it tends to be. In addition, most systems, even on a planetary scale, are open- so that, for example an ill-timed asteroid could render all forecasts at any but the most macro scale completely irrelevant.

Nevertheless, futurology can be at least interesting- if not truly informative- provided that you accept that, in Peter Snow's words; "it's just a bit of fun". The truth is, most assuredly, not "out there".

So, accepting all of the limitations that I describe, and at some risk of being drummed out of the Taleb fan club, let us think not so much about how the future might turn out, but what the implications might be, based on current events and trends. Although I shall be expressing myself in my usual opinionated way, in this new series of "crystal ball blogs" the reader should not take anything as being a particular definite statement, but something rather more tentative- a set of fears or hopes depending on the circumstances.

These necessary disclaimers having been made, I can now express a series of ideas that are giving me some cause for disquiet. There seem to be a series of global macro patterns that have the potential to change the reality and the perceptions of global power.

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