Saturday, February 23, 2008

The prediction problem (Episode 24)...

Grain markets have made fools of about 173% of all market advisers lately. Which has froozen many of us in our tracks and lowered our confidence in almost nay prediction. Is the future actually more unknowable than it used to be? How should we try to prepare for tomorrow?
We all want to know what comes next. It would be great to know in advance if buying that stock, taking that job, or marrying that person is the right idea. But we can't. As Salman Rushdie wrote during his years on the run from the fatwa, "Our lives tell us who we are." We can't know for sure how things will turn out until they happen.

But we can surmise the context in which the future will occur. We can aggregate early signals and make smart decisions based on them. Rather than calling outcomes, we're here to call trends, to cut through conflicting signals and discern the most powerful ones. We don't know which company will become the leader in multitouch devices, for example, but we've seen plenty of signals to support a contention that multitouch will be huge in the years to come. That's why I'm so excited about two just-around-the-corner events, TED and our own ETech: They give you a peek into the future, straight from some of the places where it's happening already. [More]
Even this modest goal (identifying trends) is harder to do than say. But I think opportunity abounds now for those who are willing to make the effort, since so many of us have stopped trying.

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