A Growing Number Of Building Blocks Make Prediction Impossible

I have been of the opinion that the number of building blocks across multiple domains makes prediction impossible. As a result, understanding the future is about rehearsing it versus predicting it. That ambiguity makes many uncomfortable. Humans like certainty, but we live in a world that is very uncertain. Many will argue that this has always been the case. But it should be increasingly clear that periods like this emerging phase transition have only occurred a handful of times in human history. We want to rely on methods that have proven effective in the past. We find comfort in applying those methods to drive a degree of certainty. One need only look at these building blocks to see rehearsal is the only way to identify possible futures.

Science and Technology Building Blocks
Societal Building Blocks

Geopolitical Building Blocks

Building blocks across science and technology get a lot of attention for obvious reasons. Every day we learn of new innovations that serve both as accelerants and possible game changers. Just this morning we learned that a new machine-learning model could enable robots to understand interactions in the world in the way humans do. However, societal forces also have a significant impact on possible futures. Examples of these forces appear every day. For example, an article today focused on the decline in fertility rates and the significant impact that this one building block is likely to have.

Economic Building Blocks

Beyond societal forces are a growing number of geopolitical and economic building blocks. This story is best told by exploring the differences between a phase transition and previous transformative periods. The fact that so many building blocks exist across every domain is at the very least a warning sign.

The current and future economic forces converge with the others in ways that shape a given path. Stories of truck drivers that are not surprised that the industry is struggling to hire and retain workers provide signals: supply chains will be impacted and automation will accelerate. That creates a ripple effect back towards societal forces that converge in other unpredictable ways. The geopolitical domain promises to be extremely volatile, as stories like AI shaping the future of war begin to dominate the headlines.

All this says that we must see the future at some level, rehearse it, and adapt to its inevitable shifts. See-rehearse-adapt becomes the framework.

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