I guess I keep hoping I will come across a modeling method that, with only minor caveats, can accurately predict human behavior given specified circumstances. I realize this is unrealistic to hope for, but I persist. Perhaps there’s some comfort or beauty in not being able to capture human dynamism in a computational predictive model. At the same time, we exist in a time of accelerating and deepening change colliding with systems that were developed under circumstances that often have little-to-no relevance to today. There is a pressing need to redesign those systems using the knowledge and tools humanity has accumulated, information and data perhaps chief among them. It’s a bit of a paradox that when we point our knowledge and tools back towards ourselves we often find our predictions to be the most unreliable. So how can we make informed decisions with more reliable models about the revolutionary scale choices we face? Is there a model that could be developed that would compel consensus in these high-stakes, divided times? Is predicting humanity’s future possible? Is that the right question to put effort behind? It’s all very puzzling.
This post was written in reflection to the chapter of The Model Thinker by Scott Page by the same name.