Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Psychohistory, Big Data and me...

Way back in 1942, Isaac Asimov had conceived a new field of predictive science called 'Psychohistory' which he used later, as the backbone of his 'Foundation' series. Asimov's 'Psychohistory' combined historysociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behaviour of very large groups of people. It depended on the idea that, while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict the mass action of the gas to a high level of accuracy.
You can read all that from Wikipedia. So why am I wasting everyone's time about what Asimov explained and expanded well in  his books?
There is a reason. I believe I am  on to something!

One of the limits the 'Psychohistory' approach had so far, was the inability to capture the behaviour for sufficiently large groups of Individuals to enable meaningful  predictions and analyse the past to predict the future. It was both a technical and logistics issue.
Now there seems to be a solution for this. Social media data ('exhaust' in the lingo of data scientists) along with the emerging BIG DATA technologies could provide us a great solution for the problem.

That means....?
It is only a question of time,  before  someone funds Psychohistory research using Big data.

I believe, in less than a decade we could hear fairly dependable predictions on the rise and fall of countries and empires. we might get a chance to get back to the Newtonian clockwork universe again...
Note - One caution here...'Psycho History' in modern science  is something totally different.

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Blogger P911 said...

I like the parallelism drawn :)
Big Data is all gas !
But seriously using big data we are analysing the past but how close can we get to predict the future?

1:50 AM  
Blogger P911 said...

Ashok nice parallels drawn.
Big data is gas :)

1:51 AM  
Blogger Dr. Ashok Kallarakkal said...

I think, there is value in Big Data as a technology, though it cannot be the panacea we had been looking for. Let us hope it would be used for the good of humanity only, since it could be another double edged sword like nuclear power...

12:16 AM  

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