How to predict the future

Is the future mutable or immutable and why is this important right now?

Predicting the future is not impossible. In fact, in western society we are taught how from early on in school. And right now it's vitally important to know how to do this so we can see a possibly harmful future and prevent it. 


A few components that give some insight into scientific fortune telling are history and human nature (or biology). 

We've heard of the common phrase, "Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it" but that is often mis-quoted from Santayana and Burke: 

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." - Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana (1863-1952).

Mark Twain has remarked that, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

And a comment online has been summarized that, "It isn't ignoring the lesson of history that causes history to repeat, it is not adapting to changing circumstances."

From those statements you could say history repeats because people are stubborn, uneducated, forgetful, or are missing information. 

So history gives us some clues but as someone else has said that, 

"History shows that both those who do not learn history and those who do learn history are doomed to repeat it." - Nicholas Clairmont (online comment). 

But in my opinion,  the chances of history repeating depends on many different reasons. In fact, simply knowing history could cause it to repeat. 

This is easily solved as people know the history but they don't know the "right" solution, don't have the will or desire for it or can't achieve it. 

The right solution roughly being that people would be able to live in peace and happiness (or contentment) able to achieve what they desire without it interfering with another beings or entities ability to do the same. 

For example, let's say Fred and Barney are neighbors living in a hunter gather society. One day Fred falls and breaks his leg. In his hunter culture he can no longer hunt and since he can no longer hunt and he knows nothing else he schemes to take Barneys food. His response would interfere and potentially harm Barney's life. But on his way to rob Barney he bumps into Wilma. Wilma is from a tribe of gatherers. She teaches him that he can grow food. A solution was found that didn't harm either Fred or Barney. 

So we can say history gives us some helpful clues about what will happen in the future.


The next component of scientific fortune telling is our biological programming or motivation. Part of this was described in Maslov's hierarchy of needs. 

This hypothesis is that every creature has a built in desire to survive and live a good life and that they will do whatever they can to a point to continue to survive. 

There is so much that can be said about why we do what we do including purpose, meaning, boredom, hunger, exploration, connection, competition and many more components of our biology and aspects of the human spirit that cannot all be stated here. 

But I've never read a better way to explain a predictable biological programming model than the way it is described with the paperclip maximizer. 


From the Wikipedia entry and here

The paperclip maximizer is a thought experiment described by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom in 2003. 

It illustrates the existential risk that an artificial general intelligence may pose to human beings when programmed to pursue even seemingly-harmless goals, and the necessity of incorporating machine ethics into artificial intelligence design. 

The scenario describes an advanced artificial intelligence tasked with manufacturing paperclips. If such a machine were not programmed to value human life, then given enough power its optimized goal would be to turn all matter in the universe, including human beings, into either paperclips or machines which manufacture paperclips.

"Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible. The AI will realize quickly that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans." — Nick Bostrom, “Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence”, 2003

Bostrom has emphasized that he does not believe the paperclip maximizer scenario per se will actually occur; rather, his intention is to illustrate the dangers of creating superintelligent machines without knowing how to safely program them to eliminate existential risk to human beings. The paperclip maximizer example illustrates the broad problem of managing powerful systems that lack human values.

AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else. — Eliezer Yudkowsky, Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk

Instrumental convergence suggests that an intelligent agent with apparently harmless goals can act in surprisingly harmful ways.

Humans have a flaw in that we anthropomorphize things that look or act like humans or animals. In other words if we saw a robot that looked like a human or animal we might naturally expect them to have a sense of empathy where there are only machine parts and fixed machine behavior. We might be lured into a false sense of security.

It is now me again, the author of this post. 

The paperclip maximizer scenario illustrates how powerful systems that lack human values can act in surprisingly harmful ways. 

Knowing this we can predict the future by knowing how something is programmed (biologically or otherwise). This works surprisingly well on such things as the capitalistic economic system. 

If we know that Capitalism serves profit and looking at history then we can predict the future. 

Corporations are programmed (taught, instructed or driven) to make as much money as possible in as short of time as possible. Knowing this information we have been able to see in real time how every job that could be outsourced has been outsourced, every job that could be automated has been automated, every factory that could be sent elsewhere has been sent elsewhere, every wage that could be held down has been held down. 

Why bring up Capitalism in a post on how to predict the future? 

Because it is a system that provides or withholds the resources people need to survive harming those without capital or rewarding those with capital. People are not free to make their own choices when natural resources are withheld. History, the instinct to survive and large powerful systems are intertwined and exploit, manipulate, drive and corrupt certain paths and futures. 

So we can say, 

Capitalism does not hate you, nor does it love you, but it will do whatever it can to make the most profit in the shortest amount of time whether or not that harms you, the planet or anyone else. 

All these events will continue to happen at the hands of systems that lacks human values. 

We can say different but similar things about religion. 

But we aren't machines. We are co-creators of the future. We can see a problem in the distance and prevent disaster and come up with solutions. 

We see a future by learning history, by studying and understanding ourselves and the world around us and envisioning and creating it ourselves.