AMA – the Predictions edition

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”[1] It’s common for most predictions not to age well. Consider the one made by one Mr Clifford Stoll exactly 27 years ago in Feb 1995. He was not bullish about the web.

He wrote:

Now, you may note that he claimed in the above that at the time of writing (1995) he’d been online for two decades — meaning he’d been online since 1975. That is actually true since he was at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He wrote an interesting book in 1989: The Cuckoo’s Egg. “It is his first-person account of the hunt for a computer hacker who broke into a computer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).”

Check out the wiki entry on the book (link above.) It’s makes for fascinating reading.

So he’s no dummy when it comes to the web. Still he got it quite wrong. So beware. Don’t believe everything that the experts claim about the future. Caveat lector.

Talking of LBNL, it is located on the Berkeley hills, just a bit up the road from UC Berkeley (my alma mater.) It’s where the first particle accelerator was built. The cyclotron was small enough to fit on a desktop. A direct descendant of that is the giant Large Hadron Collider which is

… the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and hundreds of universities and laboratories, as well as more than 100 countries. It lies in a tunnel 27 kilometers (17 mi) in circumference and as deep as 175 meters (574 ft) beneath the France–Switzerland border near Geneva.

About the LBNL, the wiki says, “The laboratory was founded on August 26, 1931, by Ernest Lawrence, as the Radiation Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, associated with the Physics Department. It centered physics research around his new instrument, the cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939.”

J. Robert Oppenheimer was at UC Berkeley and worked at LBNL, and later went on to build the Los Alamos Labs and created the “atom bomb.” Oppenheimer, you may know, recalled Vishnu’s words spoken in the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of Worlds.”

So there you have it — “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy.” Those words are from the song “Russians” by Sting. The song is somewhat relevant in the context of Putin’s adventures in the Ukraine. Listen.

“How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?” Those words give me goosebumps. So, anyway, what’s on your mind?

NOTES:

[1] “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” Quote Investigator says that it’s a Danish witticism. “The saying was spoken during the parliamentary year 1937-1938, and no attribution was specified.”

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

10 thoughts on “AMA – the Predictions edition”

  1. A layman like me finds our national relationship with foreign countries baffling. I feel emotional about countries but understand the importance of “only permanent interest, no permanent friends and all that”. I also understand that there are wheels within wheels, and the whole truth of foreign relations will never come out to layman-public ever.

    The voting public cannot understand foreign policy, so the electorate cannot hold the government accountable in any meaningful way. That being the situation, what are the incentives for a democratically elected government to conduct a foreign policy beneficial for the nation? Who should hold the government accountable in matters of foreign policy? And how?

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    1. The voting public cannot understand foreign policy, so the electorate cannot hold the government accountable in any meaningful way. That being the situation, what are the incentives for a democratically elected government to conduct a foreign policy beneficial for the nation? Who should hold the government accountable in matters of foreign policy? And how?

      There are no incentives for “government” because it is not really an entity. It is an abstraction for a set of people who have incentives to do this and that and often they can’t agree on anything. Foreign policy of democratic nations hence is very slow to adapt to reality. But all politicians who run it have one objective in life. To get ree-lected. They will do the right think when they think they can get reelected by doing thr right thing.

      Ukraine invasion is the best example of this.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There is this story that Russia stopped the seventh fleet of hostile US (which was coming in Pakistan’s support). It has been pounded in my (and many like me) head since childhood.
      Also, there is this bit about Russia vetoing any move to discuss Kashmir in the UN again and again.

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    2. At the risk of generalizing for whole of India:
      It will be incorrect to say that there is a hate for the US. There is love for its private enterprise, technology, culture, movies, TV-series, food, music etc. Indians in general used to dream of emigrating to the US. Nobody knows about any Indian emigrating to Russia. Most of us do not know about any technology/culture/movie contribution from the Russia in our lives.

      BUT all of us remember 1971 when Russia stood by India. It enabled the greatest military victory for India and liberation of Bangladesh from a brutal regime. (Although the Russia that backed India in 1971 contained both the present day Russia and Ukraine).

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  2. There seems to be a co-ordinated worldwide push for CBDCs, while demonising bitcoin – an incorruptible free market money.

    In a time of nonstop psy-ops on the masses aided by internet mass media platforms, do you see a tipping point when the central planner’s narratives crumble and the price signals in the market ushers in a mass non compliance?

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  3. There is a saying about predictions by experts – If an expert says that some thing is possible he will be 99% right and if he says something is not possible he will be 99% wrong in the long term

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