The Age of Unpredictability

It is much harder to predict foreign policy outcomes, especially in times of turmoil when there is no “nothing happens” default path, than it is to predict the results of economic policies.  There is no coherent model, no causal identification in the data, and the data are not very good or well-partitioned to begin with.

Currently it is very hard to predict an endgame for the Russia-Ukraine war.  It is also very hard to predict the longer-run consequences of a Putin escalation, including but not restricted to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

It is very hard to predict the outcome of China-Taiwan, and possible American responses, and this will hang over our heads for some while even if an invasion comes very soon.

With the recent Biden chip sanctions, I don’t think it is ridiculous to assert that the United States is very close to being informally at war with the two other most destructive nations in the world.

Iran-Israel is a neglected wild card in all of this.  In many scenarios a superpower war spreads to parts of the Middle East.

You don’t have to fear “Skynet goes live” to recognize that the total net effects of forthcoming AI will be very hard to predict.

Whatever you think of UAPs, the reports are not going away and the observers are not being discredited.  The sensor readings are not “mere flocks of geese.”  The most likely non-alien drone probe scenario is a U.S. military innovation, but that too would be big news and a major increase in global uncertainty.  Imagine the shock when the U.S. first deployed the atomic bomb.

By the way, it seems we are getting pretty effective vaccines for Covid, malaria, dengue, and some forms of cancer?  That too was hard to predict until recently.

So we are entering a new time, The Age of Unpredictability.  I am not sure what it means to be “ready” for this.  But again, cheap hobbies are always underrated.


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