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February 19, 2014



"If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end."
Alan Watts

Mark Montgomery

Elegant writing -as usual, Irving. Well of course it's about probability. Statements like those from Gordon, which I had noticed with interest, are in my experience typically a form of warning or activism--a judgement call I have myself made a time or two, like warning of the dot com and housing bubbles among others. The warning is valid I think in one respect, which is levels of adoption--innovation is constantly at risk due to entrenched interests.

While somewhat improved from a few years ago in the enterprise, for example, when innovation was declared dead by many, there is a direct correlation between market share and levels of innovation--no question about it even if the rare exception exists. Also very important is understanding that many types of market regulation and influence exist well beyond state actors.

Similarly, polarization and wealth gap reflect to a large degree the lack of market function, which requires a diversified economy to remain relatively healthy. Clearly in many industries and markets--to some extent interconnected between industries and government, we do not currently enjoy healthy market activity, and that does impact innovation. A slight impact today with innovation infrastructure can radically shape the future 50 years out. Probabilities should take on more confidence in forecasting trajectories along similar trend lines. For example, I see the wealth gap as a good forecasting tool, and causal, rather than the outcome many economists claim. And perhaps importantly, my forecasts have been considerably better than the super majority of economists on economics precisely because I have not been indoctrinated. Something I keep in mind as I design AI systems with human interaction.

We do have reason to be concerned with the future. The world is not governing well, either from a self-adaptive complexity perspective, from a classic top down approach, democratic, social, environmental, economic.... Tech and innovation trends would have a much higher probability of realization if we had could have slightly more confidence that the human race won't self-destruct - based on evidence. Governance matters. Systems matter. Integrity in the financial system and political system matters. Fiscal sustainability matters. As it is now futurists on innovation must run at least two scenarios in the longer term…. Tough times for optimists.

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