Predicting the Future using Human Nature and Technology
Category: Career
January 2021

Predicting the future sounds like a tough problem, but we try to do it all the time without realising it.

We predict the future when we think about how risky or scary something is, or when we think about what’s really going to change because of an announcement or press release. We try to predict the future when we’re at the supermarket checkouts and we try to pick the queue that will move the fastest. I always seem to pick the wrong one.

There must be a million ways of trying to predicting the future but all the good ones are models which reduce complexity and emphasise key considerations. One of them could be comparing the influence of human nature and technology on the outcome, and then comparing the event to what’s happened before.

Human nature doesn’t change, so if something is driven by fear or greed then it probably doesn’t matter what century it occurs in. Technology is change, and if something is enabled or prevented due to technological progress then the date is important.

What is driving the scenario? Is it human nature or technology? Supermarket checkouts are mostly manual and require a couple of adults to work together, so human nature has a much bigger role on efficiency than tech. Young men will stack and pack quickly, old women will be the opposite. What types of shopping bags they have, or how they pay, or even how many items they’re buying, are probably not going to lead you to the right decision.

The same probably works for getting through airport security.