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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Voyage to the Stars

And what we're trying to inspire with the 100-Year Starship Study is that first step in establishing a bar that's high enough, with challenges that are hard enough that people will actually go start tackling some of these really hard problems."

Reach for the Stars

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Psychohistory" Forecasts Near Future Events

"The emerging field of “Culturomics” seeks to explore broad cultural trends through the computerized analysis of vast digital book archives, offering novel insights into the functioning of human society."

"The paper, titled “Culturomics 2.0: Forecasting Large-Scale Human Behavior Using Global News Media Tone in Time and Space,” uses the tone and location of news coverage from across the world to forecast country stability (including retroactively predicting the recent Arab Spring), estimate Osama Bin Laden’s final location as a 200-kilometer radius around Abbottabad, and uncover the six world civilizations of the global news media. The research also demonstrates that the news is indeed becoming more negative and even visualizes global human societal conflict and cooperation over the last quarter century.

It seems like a real attempt at psychohistory from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series of novels. Psychohistory is a fictional science in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe which combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people, such as the Galactic Empire."

For  decades, scientists, intellectuals and even Asimov himself didn't take the concept of psychohistory very seriously except for its use in science fiction master works. However, the concept persisted and apparently there is a legitimate social science called psychohistory which has nothing to do with the psychohistory that Asimov's Hari Seldon developed in the far future Foundation series. However, as the article and the websites that are giving serious attention to Culturomics indicate, a real life discipline somewhat similar in its intent to that of psychohistory is now in existence. Asimov can properly take his place among other visionaries, e.g., Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, among those whose Science Fiction visions influenced future science and/or the Social Sciences.

Culturomics 2.0: Forecasting Large-Scale Human Behavior Using Global News Media Tone in Time and Space