probability

Mapping risk and uncertainty is the second step of a proper process to correctly anticipate and manage risks and uncertainties. This stage starts with building a model, which, once completed, will describe and explain the issue or question at hand, while allowing for anticipation or foresight. In other words, with the end of the first step, you have selected a risk, an uncertainty, or a series of risks and uncertainties, or an issue of concern, with its proper time frame and scope, for example, what are the risks and uncertainties to my investment portfolio within the next 18 months to 3 years, or what will be the future of the emerging artificial intelligence world over the next twenty years, or what are the risks and uncertainties to my activity within the next fiver years as a result of China’s rise.

Once this initial question is defined, the second stage is about constructing our underlying model for understanding, i.e. mapping our risk or issue.

As Professor Joshua Epstein underlines, constructing a model – i.e. modeling – is nothing more, actually, than making explicit the hidden, implicit, model we, as human beings, are using when thinking. Epstein lists 16 advantages that result from this explicit modeling, to which we can add a couple more. Among these, we can notably highlight that, in terms of intelligence and anticipation analysis, making the model explicit will help identifying various cognitive, normative and emotional biases, thus allowing for their mitigation. Thanks to this modeling we can think out of the box and overcome silos. Then, the model and its construction will help defining areas of uncertain understanding, which can then be marked for further study, inquiry and research. Meanwhile, an explicit model will also help us working collaboratively, while communication will be greatly eased and enhanced, notably by using tools developed for big data analytics.

How are we thus to transform our inner implicit and imperfect model about the risk and uncertainty of concern into a proper and efficient explicit model to assess correctly risks and uncertainties, design critical responses and communicate about both risks and the decisions taken to manage them?

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Having detailed the various potential scenarios for Libya’s future over the next three to five years, we shall now evaluate the likelihood of the scenarios thanks notably to their indicators. We shall use the methodology developed by The Red (Team) Analysis Society, building upon Heuer (“Assessing Probability of a Scenario”, in Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, … Continue reading Evaluating Likelihoods for Libya’s Future – Scenario 1

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

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As the label “black swans” is increasingly used but with different interpretations, this post reviews Taleb’s bestseller, the meaning of black swans events and evaluates if the author truly points to the absurdity of foresight.

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If cognitive biases are the enemy of analysis, they can become the ally of the foresight practitioner delivering products to clients, with the use of fictionalized scenario narratives.

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Go back to Part 1

Actually, any SF&W model as it primarily deals with time should be a dynamic network. How can we expect obtaining any potential outline for the future if our model for understanding is static?

Our map thus aims at representing the potential dynamics of polities. We shall notably use Ertman’s work on past state-building, but making it adaptable to present and future conditions.

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