Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics
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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.
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Editor’s introduction to Part V

Frank Whelon Wayman


This volume has given two perspectives in evolutionary biology (Chapters 3 and 4), focusing on human nature, and it then moved on to an ecological perspective of the place, the security, and the welfare of humans in their changing environment (Chapters 5, 6, and 7), but we have not yet addressed the nature of the global system in which humanity must find its present and future home. In Chapter 10, John Holland takes up the role of complex, adaptive systems, and their likely nested existence within other complex adaptive systems that exist at a higher order of magnitude in spatial domains (like bacteria within the bodies of higher organisms). While Holland explicitly refers back to Chapter 3 and 4 by Wilson and Alexander, respectively, his chapter raises the question of how a system such as an ecosystem might evolve if the important components of it are adapting either through learning or natural selection. More generally, Holland is concerned with the issues that are raised by the possibility that the global system is itself a complex adaptive system. These are themes first brought up in the book in Chapter 2, in which Williamson discussed the global system as made up of elements that were social, elements that were biological, and elements and subsystems that were physical (such as the weather and climate). While the weather and climate are not primarily adaptive systems, the social and biological subsystems overwhelmingly are.

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