Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Psychohistory


A quote from the BBC news website:

“An international group of scientists is aiming to create a simulator that can replicate everything happening on Earth - from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on Milton Keynes' roads…..”

“….It will only be possible by bringing together social scientists and computer scientists and engineers to establish the rules that will define how the simulator operates.”

Well, if it’s going to be realistic, it’s going to have to incorporate a simulation of the simulator itself. Ever read Isaac Azimov’s Foundation trilogy (which later became a series)? A mathematician called Hari Seldon developed a statistically predictive, mathematic modelling technology called psychohistory, which could predict the actions of suitably large populations, such as those on an entire galaxy. However, it would only work without the subject population knowing it was being subject to predictive simulation.

Can’t ever see an earth simulator being of the slightest bit of use, as social science is anything but a science; the very term social scientist is an oxymoron. Furthermore, a computer that could simulate the entire earth would need to be as large as the earth itself to be capable of any meaningfully predictive calculations, and even then the earth is too chaotic and complex to be modelled as small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) will yield widely diverging outcomes, rendering long-term prediction virtually impossible.

I was looking or some cereal for No.1 son the other day and he forced my eye to alight on a box of chocolate Weetabix. The packet screamed out the fact that there was less salt, less fat and half the sugar. Now I thought it rather strange that something loaded with chocolate, which itself has more sugar than something with a lot of sugar, can have half the sugar of normal Weetabix. It was only on closer inspection that I saw the small print, which read; “……than the average chocolate-based cereal product.” Seems honesty has gone completely out of the window when it comes to advertising.

Been reading about the righteous indignation expressed by some concerning the failure of airports to stay open during the recent inclement weather and the demands that they be fined to within an inch of their livelihood because some smug, self-obsessed prat couldn’t get to his Christmas skiing holiday in St Moritz. If I had my way, anyone who left home in snowy conditions without snow chains and a shovel should be fined for the cost of their rescue if they get into trouble.

Heard something on the radio yesterday about corporate team building exercises. You can’t really call it team building when you’re thrust into a contrived situation with several people, any of which would gladly stab you in the back as soon as look at you in order to achieve advancement.

4 comments:

  1. Shades of the observed being influenced by the observers and Schrödinger's cat. Arthur C Clarke wrote a novel based on a planet's history being preordained by a forecast. Folk would gather periodically to see the next instalment. I hope that you had a good Christmas.

    Roger

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Earth sims" sounds like a new financial services scam sponsored by Microsoft to me..

    Like astrologers and psychics, people that teach corporate team building courses always seem unfeasibly unsuccessful, shouldn't they all be running BP or something?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve,

    Those who can do, those who can't teach and those who can't teach teach teachers.

    Roger

    ReplyDelete