Table of Contents

Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics

Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics

Edited by Frank Whelon Wayman, Paul R. Williamson, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Solomon Polachek

It is a puzzle that while academic research has increased in specialization, the important and complex problems facing humans urgently require a synthesis of understanding. This unique collaboration attempts to address such a problem by bringing together a host of prominent scholars from across the sciences to offer new insights into predicting the future. They demonstrate that long-term trends and short-term incentives need to be understood in order to adopt effective policies, or even to comprehend where we currently stand and the sort of future that awaits us.

Chapter 10: Glimpses of the future

John Holland

Subjects: economics and finance, game theory, international economics, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations, public policy


The problems that interest me involve most of the buzzwords you hear in the daily news: innovation, Internet, global trade, equity markets, sustainable human growth, ecosystems, and the immune system (Box 10.1). I would like to take a step back to see if there are common traits in these systems that will aid us in predicting their future impact. Each of these problems involves a system that consists of many interacting individuals or components. Moreover, in each case, the individuals or components adapt their strategies or actions as they interact; that is, they learn (Figure 10.1). I will use the term “agent” to designate the components, and I will call the system as a whole a complex adaptive system (cas). I will use the term “adaptation” to include both long-term changes, such as the gene modifications involved in speciation, and shorter-term changes, such as learning in the immune system or the central nervous system. The combination of interaction and adaptation makes it difficult to predict the aggregate behavior of a cas.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information