The evaluation of our 2012 predictions’ sample underlines notably a widespread conventional view of national security, novel issues being ignored; a relative inability to assess timing whilst our understanding of issues fares relatively well; the existence of major biases, notably regarding China, Russia, and the U.S; the difficulty of prediction for novel issues and old issues in new context.
This second article on The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb emphasises some of the author’s points that could be useful to foresight and warning and all work dealing with anticipation, from risk management to horizon scanning through early warning. Many of those themes are actually allowed by the SF&W methodology, and are crucial to obtain a good analysis. The first article on The Black Swan can be accessed here. Humility (Notably pp.190-200) Considering uncertainty, but also our imperfect condition of human beings, the complexity of the social world, feedbacks, our more than insufficient knowledge and understanding, we must be very humble, accept our partial ignorance, our imperfection and mistakes (and make sure those essentially … Continue reading Useful Rules for Foresight from Taleb’s The Black Swan
Horizon Scanning for National Security – No82 – On relativity: If, for example, we believe that Greece will be in the G20 in 7 years or that we are at the end of the economic crisis, notably in Europe, that “new oil” developments and use of coal are very positive, then, Australia’s heat index or European unemployment figures or Basel’s new liquidity rule might be (only “might” of course) weak signals that something is amiss… if we don’t believe the initial statements then those indications are strong signals of escalation, among so many others.
As expected last week the situation in Egypt did not stabilize and many other issues escalate. Also, of particular interest this week as weak signal, we find the importance of religion in times of hardship, when all hopes seem to be lost. Considering the power of mobilisation and radicalisation of religion, this factor is to be kept in mind.
The Economist shows the lead in a courageous yet hardly ever done exercise: going back to our own foresight and assess, in the light of the present, what was right and what was wrong. It provides us with an example of how such lessons learned could be endeavoured, underlines questions that should be asked and key challenges for anticipation, and exemplifies how biases can derail foresight.