adactio / tags / prediction

Tagged with “prediction” (13)

  1. Psychohistory: Isaac Asimov and guiding the future

    100 years on from Isaac Asimov’s birth, Matthew Sweet looks at one of the bigger ideas contained in some of his 500 books; Psychohistory.

    The idea, from Asimov’s Foundation series, was that rather like the behaviour of a gas could be reduced to statistical probabilities of the behaviour of billions of molecules, so the history of billions of human beings across the fictional galactic empire could be predicted through a few laws he called ‘Psychohistory’.

    The idea inspired many to think that social sciences and economics can really be reduced to some sort of idealized set of physics principles, making future events completely predictable. It and similar ideas are still breeding enthusiasm for such things as data science, AI, machine learning, and arguably even the recent job advert by Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings for more ‘Super-Talented Wierdos’ to work for government. But how do we see what is real and what is not, what is Sci-Fi and what is hype, what is reasonable and what is desirable, in the gaps between innovation and inspiration, restraint and responsibility?

    Jack Stilgoe of University College London has a new book out ‘Who’s Driving Innovation?’. Science and Tech journalist Gemma Milne’s forthcoming book is called ‘Smoke and Mirrors: How hype obscures the future and How to see past it’. Una McCormack is an expert on science fiction writing at Anglia Ruskin University, and Alexander Boxer is a data scientist who’s new book ‘Scheme of Heaven’ makes the case that we have much to learn about human efforts to deduce the future from observable events by looking at the history of Astrology, its aims and techniques.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p080lvrb

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. The Future of the Future

    How does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

    It’s said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it’s already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

    Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08nqc4j

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. Did science fiction predict the future of journalism?

    What’s the future of journalism? Amidst countless conferences, anxious op-eds and much hand-wringing, journalist Loren Ghiglione believes he might have found some answers in an unlikely place: science fiction. Despite his initial disdain for the genre, Ghiglione explains to Brooke that sci-fi is full of predictions that we’d be wise to consider.

    http://www.onthemedia.org/story/did-science-fiction-predict-future-journalism/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  4. You Are Not So Smart 020 – James Burke and Matt Novak ponder the future and why we are terrible at predicting it

    If you love educational entertainment – programs about science, nature, history, technology and everything in between – it is a safe bet that the creators of those shows were heavily influenced by the founding fathers of science communication: Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and James Burke.

    In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with James Burke and discuss the past, the present, and where he sees us heading in the future. Burke says we must soon learn how to deal with a world in which scarcity is scarce, abundance is abundant, and home manufacturing can produce just about anything you desire.

    James Burke is a legendary science historian who created the landmark BBC series Connections which provided an alternative view of history and change by replacing the traditional “Great Man” timeline with an interconnected web in which all people influence one another to blindly direct the flow of progress. Burke is currently writing a new book about the coming age of abundance, and he continues to work on his Knowledge Web project.

    We also sit down with Matt Novak, creator and curator of Paleofuture, a blog that explores retro futurism, sifting through the many ways people in the past predicted how the future would turn out, sometimes correctly, mostly not.

    Together, Burke and Novak help us understand why we are to terrible at predicting the future and what we can learn about how history truly unfolds so we can better imagine who we will be in the decades to come.

    After the interview, I discuss a news story about how cigarettes affect the way your brain interprets cigarette advertising.

    In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Patrick Regan who submitted a recipe for orange slice cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2014/03/18/yanss-podcast-020-james-burke-and-matt-novak-ponder-the-future-and-why-we-are-terrible-at-predicting-it/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  5. Vernor Vinge: What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen? - The Long Now

    Non-Singularity scenarios

    Vinge began by declaring that he still believes that a Singularity event in the next few decades is the most likely outcome— meaning that self-accelerating technologies will speed up to the point of so profound a transformation that the other side of it is unknowable.

    And this transformation will be driven by Artificial Intelligences (AIs) that, once they become self-educating and self-empowering, soar beyond human capacity with shocking suddenness.

    He added that he is not convinced by the fears of some that the AIs would exterminate humanity.

    He thinks they would be wise enough to keep us around as a fallback and backup— intelligences that can actually function without massive connectivity!

    (Later in the Q&A I asked him about the dangerous period when AI’s are smart enough to exterminate us but not yet wise enough to keep us around.

    How long would that period be?

    “About four hours,” said Vinge .)

    Since a Singularity makes long-term thinking impractical, Vinge was faced with the problem of how to say anything useful in a Seminar About Long-term Thinking, so he came up with a plausible set of scenarios that would be Singularity-free.

    He noted that they all require that we achieve no faster-than-light space travel.

    The overall non-Singularity condition he called “The Age of Failed Dreams.”

    The main driver is that software simply continues failing to keep pace with hardware improvements.

    One after another, enormous billion-dollar software projects simply do not run, as has already happened at the FBI, air traffic control, IRS, and many others.

    Some large automation projects fail catastrophically, with planes running into each.

    So hardware development eventually lags, and materials research lags, and no strong AI develops.

    To differentiate visually his three sub-scenarios, Vinge showed a graph ranging over the last 50,000 and next 50,000 years, with power (in maximum discrete sources) plotted against human populaton, on a log-log scale.

    Thus the curve begins at the lower left with human power of 0.3 kilowatts and under a hundred thousand population, curves up through steam engines with one megawatt of power and a billion population, up further to present plants generating 13 gigawatts.

    His first scenario was a bleak one called “A Return to MADness.”

    Driven by increasing environmental stress (that a Singularity might have cured), nations return to nuclear confrontation and policies of “Mutually Assured Destruction.”

    One “bad afternoon,” it all plays out, humanity blasts itself back to the Stone Age and then gradually dwindles to extinction.

    His next scenario was a best-case alternative named “The Golden Age,” where population stabilizes around 3 billion, and there is a peaceful ascent into “the long, good time.”

    Humanity catches on that the magic ingredient is education, and engages the full plasticity of the human psyche, empowered by hope, information, and communication.

    A widespread enlightened populism predominates, with the kind of tolerance and wise self-interest we see embodied already in Wikipedia.

    One policy imperative of this scenario would be a demand for research on “prolongevity”— “Young old people are good for the future of humanity.”

    Far from deadening progress, long-lived youthful old people would have a personal stake in the future reaching out for centuries, and would have personal perspective reaching back for centuries.

    The final scenario, which Vinge thought the most probable, he called “The Wheel of Time.”

    Catastrophes and recoveries of various amplitudes follow one another.

    Enduring heroes would be archaeologists and “software dumpster divers” who could recover lost tools and techniques.

    What should we do about the vulnerabilities in these non-Singularity scenarios?

    Vinge ’s main concern is that we are running only one, perilously narrow experiment on Earth.

    “The best hope for long-term survival is self-sufficient off-Earth settlements.”

    We need a real space program focussed on bringing down the cost of getting mass into space, instead of “the gold-plated sham” of present-day NASA.

    There is a common critique that there is no suitable place for humans elsewhere in the Solar System, and the stars are too far.

    “In the long now,” Vinge observed, “the stars are not too far.”

    (Note: Vinge’s detailed notes for this talk, and the graphs, may be found online at: http://rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge /longnow/index.htm ) —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02007/feb/15/what-if-the-singularity-does-not-happen/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  6. Audioboo / James Burke predicted the future in 1973. Now he does it again.

    Forty years ago for Radio Times, the scientist and broadcaster James Burke predicted events in 1993. He got a lot right. So we asked him in to PM this afternoon to predict the future. The sound begins with an actor reading from the original article, written by Tony Peagam.

    https://audioboo.fm/boos/1574606-james-burke-predicted-the-future-in-1973-now-he-does-it-again

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization | Underwire | Wired.com

    Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.

    “I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The difference between us and us 10,000 years ago is … we know it can be done.”

    Vinge has a proven track record of looking ahead. His 1981 novella True Names was one of the first science fiction stories to deal with virtual reality, and he also coined the phrase, “The Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond our comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists.

    But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

    “I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

    That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.

    “I am just as concerned about disasters as anyone,” says Vinge. “I have this region of the problem that I’m more optimistic about than some people, but overall, avoiding existential threats is at the top of my to-do list.”

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/03/vernor-vinge-geeks-guide-galaxy/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

Page 1 of 2Older