Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Prediction is hard

But postdiction is easy. Suppose I'd won some sort of a contest when I graduated from college and I got to go on Press the Meat and give my predictions for my upcoming lifetime. Since we're projecting my current self into the past, I'd get everything right.

Well Tim, I would say that the Soviet economic model has failed. They're going bankrupt, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Soviet Union collapses in a little more than a decade. The Warsaw pact countries will align with the West and most of the captive nations will gain independence. Russia will end up with authoritarian crony capitalism.

Also, Maoism has failed to produce economic development. Nothing much will change as long as Mao is alive -- although they may open up to the west because they need the trade and other benefits of ending their isolation. But once Mao dies I think you'll see a much more pragmatic leadership that will encourage private entrepreneurship, and an increasingly dynamic Chinese economy that may ultimately challenge the United States for global leadership. Japan, on the other hand, in spite of what everybody thinks today, is in for a long period of relative stagnation.

Right now computers are big and expensive, but you're going to be amazed at how they get smaller and cheaper year by year. Pretty soon they'll be commodities like toasters and telephones -- they'll be commonplace at home and office. And they'll be networked so they can share data. All the information you could possibly want will be at your fingertips. The job of secretary will pretty much disappear because professionals and managers will prepare their own documents using programs that will even correct their spelling . . .
You get the idea. They'd think I was completely nuts. If I went ahead and added global climate change and resource depletion, Gilded Age inequality, and the rise of radical political Islam and corresponding fanatical Christianism in the U.S., they'd have me committed. So, I'm very cautious about making predictions today.


Don Quixote said...

Although many people didn’t give our experimental program much chance of success

Don Quixote said...

Oops, wrong comment. I meant to say: I

I predict as you get older you'll be less cautious :-)