In the Foundation series author Isaac Asimov created the concept of Psychohistory which is the notion of using history to predict the future. This fictional science allows leaders to plan for the future in great detail as long as people (at large) are unaware of Psychohistory and that the number of people being studied is incredibly large.
Essentially, Psychohistory uses math, trend analysis, and systems thinking to work. All of those core necessities exist today and we’re already beginning to see companies try to emulate Psychohistory.
Presently there are 7 billion people on the planet and many of them are creating information. Collating and sifting through this information can be hard and overly complex, let alone knowing where to look. An online service, Recorded Future uses publicly accessible information on the web for its predictive power.
Right now the site seems to be good at collecting information and letting people play with it, but its predictive powers are essentially untested. Which raises an interesting question: how long must a tool like this be accurate for and in what fields for it to have credibility? Still, it should give you a strong idea of what the future holds for what you’re looking into.
What Recoded Future is doing is essentially cliodynamics which is a relatively new study that is similar to Asimov’s Pyschohistory. Wikipedia describes the concept: “Cliodynamics practitioners attempt to come to with mathematical models of history to explain “big history” – things like the rise of empires, social discontent, civil wars, and state collapse.”
There is even a journal dedicated to cliodynamics aptly named Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History. The journal is open, wholly online, and free; they are accepting submissions to the journal if you’re interested.
April 19th, 2013 by Adam