blog: Asimov and Psychohistory

Some time ago in a meeting I was describing how we have methods to find chaotic points, in the present and in the near future, where it’s possible to use very small resources to change the general direction of the future. One participant interrupts me with “But that’s like Asimov*s Psychohistory!” and I respond with “Yeah …” and try to continue talking but he interrupts me again with “But don’t you get it? you’re saying you have invented Psychohistory! Psychohistory!!!” and I’m thinking “I wish we had…”. I say “Yes, we have.” because I know that if I don’t he won’t stop until I agree that’s what we have done. And then I say “But it doesn’t work the way Asimov described it. The Mathematics are chaotic and it’s not possible to predict thousands of years into the future. It’s not even possible to predict consequences a hundred years into the future. Chaos creates a kind of event horizon that makes it impossible to see beyond a certain time. And depending on what you are researching the event horizon is at different time places.”.

I hate killing such enthusiasm for what we do. I can very much relate to that enthusiasm, because some 40 years ago I really wanted to invent psychohistory. But what we did was to create something much better. We created tools to investigate the present NOW and to explore the possibilities for everyone to create their own part of the future. And we killed Asimov’s vision of a centralized secret organization that manipulates events thousands of years in the future. Much the same way that Asimov himself killed it in the end of the last book by having one individual execute free will. Imagine a world where billions of people do that all the time. That’s what we are studying, because that’s what reality looks like.


Article written by Rasmus