The latest global catastrophes – natural and manmade – again make us re-examine our ability to predict future events and what we are doing to improve those skills. A current discussion of this is going on at Edge – The Third Culture. Edge is one of those exclusive foundation think tanks for intellectuals from diverse backgrounds who are invited to come together and “arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.” There are some impressive names in their list of contributors.
So a group of these folks were asked to consider prediction, and submit short essays summarizing their thoughts on the topic. As a lifelong worker in this vineyard, I was interested to see who would be saying what about prediction. My first amazement came when looking at the contributing ‘whos’. The mix of people was eclectic and politically correct. It included fine minds practicing physical oceanography, magazine editing, cultural anthropology, psychology, media analysis, science writing, sociology, chaos theory, and, yes, robotics.