The Future of Everything

November 2, 2011

Where’s the puck?

Filed under: World Finance column — Tags: , — David @ 7:39 am

Latest World Finance column is on the science of prediction. And hockey.

The Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Businesses and societies try to perform a similar trick, through forecasting. We seem to have a genetic urge to look into the future, to see around the corner, to guess where the puck is going. In fact even simple bacteria have genetic networks that are used to predict the location of food, and move towards it.

Traditionally the domain of religions, astrologers, and mystics, the role of prognosticator-in-chief has now passed to scientists, who use highly complex mathematical models to predict the weather, the spread of diseases, the economy, and much else – positioning ourselves better for whatever is coming up.
Unfortunately, their track record is less impressive than Gretzky’s.

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