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Theodore Gordon Senior Research Fellow The Millennium Project November 16, 2009 "Sapienza" Università di Roma.

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Presentation on theme: "Theodore Gordon Senior Research Fellow The Millennium Project November 16, 2009 "Sapienza" Università di Roma."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theodore Gordon Senior Research Fellow The Millennium Project November 16, 2009 "Sapienza" Università di Roma

2 In our world, in our time, there are few good decisions and many bad ones Futures research exists to help improve decision making; are bad decisions a mark of its failure? Can its utility be improved? Bad decisions are often attributed to ethical failures (e.g. the current recession) Yet ethics rates a top spot in Millennium Project studies that involve decision making

3 Cosmetics Food Is FR value free? What are the ethical implications of future developments? The uses of futures research in decision making lie here Can the contribution of futures research be improved? Decision Making Ethics Futures Research Ethical failures lie here. How can values play a bigger role in decisions? A NEW DECISION SCIENCE

4 1. Decision time is short in an accelerating world 2. Things go wrong 3. Governments sometimes lie 4. Political forces 5. Uncertainty and surprise 6. Imaginations are limited 7. Innate irrationality

5 Lack of a moral compass Bad luck Naivety Expediency Self-interests Amorality Timidity Xenophobia Prejudice

6 Good decisions are hard to find The Montreal Protocol limiting ozone depleting gasses Population forecasts of the 60s that led to family planning AIDS forecasts that led to massive research, prevention Silent Spring, Limits to Growth: environmental programs. And on a global scale we find improvements in GDP per capita, food availability, life expectancy, literacy, infant mortality, access to fresh water and health care, and school enrollment. So some good decision making is happening

7 Iraq Michael Phelps decision to smoke pot Sinking the Lusitania Red Socks selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees Atari turned down Steve Jobs Gary Cooper turning down the lead in GWTW Auto makers fly to DC in private jets Pay-to-play former Gov. Blagojevich of Chicago Sub prime mortgages Is it all quarter-backing on Monday morning?

8 Twenty five years ago there was no Internet, camera-phones, few PCs, no flat screens, WI-FI, Republic of Kosovo, environmental consciousness, International Space Station No Euros, WTO, or NATO in Afghanistan No asymmetrical warfare with Super Powers Most believed that a nuclear WW III would occur

9 China has more Internet users then population of US. Genetic code written like software: new life forms Intelligent infrastructure: networks of sensors and RFIDs Global brain(s) from Internet and collective intelligence Humans as cyborgs – technology on and in the body US and China cooperating: Apollo-like energy program Japan anticipating electricity from Solar Power Satellites

10 Technological synergies Feedback of accomplishments New instrumentation and analysis capacities Globalization Result: The Singularity ? (Kurzweil) What can slow it? Natural limits (e.g. energy) Catastrophe (e.g. SIMAD) Religion, culture Fear of the unknown

11 Some bad decisions turn out badly as a result of unanticipated consequences. Challenger launched despite suspicions Thalidomide caused birth defects Lead was added to gasoline Nosocomial infections in hospitals Suntan, meat, butter: once good for you now questionable

12 Unfortunate examples Gulf of Tonkin The U-2 incident The existence of secret CIA prisons (rendition) Paranoia results: are they lying? Media complicity or manipulation? Conspiracy theories: UFOs, assassinations, economy, inflation Governments use the media because, the first info is what most people remember.

13 Crises trigger decisions: short term issues are higher priority than long term issues Political dynamics shape decisions Demonstration of power Need for re-election Trading favors Turf protection Media imperatives and timing Role of polls Ultimately direct democracy

14 Systems may not behave as expected. Complexity and chaos (small errors have large consequences) Chance events (discovery of a large scale fraud affecting the entire financial system.) Systems may not behave as they once did. Failure of analogies (sales of CD ROMs may not be a predictor of music download sales). Failure of historical examples (are the job creation strategies of the depression useable now?) Modeling

15 Before there wasWho could have forecasted A chain reactionAtomic power, (Prehoda: Hahn-Strassmann point ) A transistorThe demise of the vacuum tube PenicillinAntibiotics PetroleumGasoline InternetGoogle 15

16 The framing of a question biases its answer We tend to see patterns where none may exist Odds are often ignored. Loss looms larger than gains Decisions are often situation dependent Frequently reported and recent events are accorded higher probability. Lower probability events are seen as more probable than they should be. From: Teversky and Kahenman, and The Hidden Traps in Decision Making (HBR Classic) John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa, January 2006 Issue and Future Savvy, Adam Gordon

17 Disproportionate weight is given to the first information Killing a project is extremely difficult People tend to seek information supporting an existing predilection Difficult decisions are avoided Any data are persuasive People take orders: the Milgram phenomenon. Mostly from: Teversky and Kahenman, and The Hidden Traps in Decision Making (HBR Classic) John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa, January 2006 Issue and Future Savvy, Adam Gordon

18 Issue Import to decision success Ability of futures research to improve 1. Decision time is shorthigh 2.Things go wrongvery highmoderate 3. Governments sometimes liehighlow 4. Political forces shape the decision agendahighlow 5. Uncertainty and surprisevery highmoderate 6. Imaginations are limitedhigh 7. Decision processes are often irrational.very highvery low

19 .

20 One cannot know the future with certainty; but one can know a range of possible futures Likelihood can be changed by policy and policy consequences can be explored Judgment is not only permissible but necessary in some methods Humans will have more influence on the future than in the past Futures research is not a science

21 Large data bases Scenarios Econometric Models Delphi Internet Large data bases Trend Impact Analysis Robust Decision Making Real Time Delphi State of the Future Index Analysis Software Collective Intelligence Systems Experts and Models

22 Example of SOFI (State of the Future Index) variables: Infant mortality Food availability GNP per capita Access to fresh water CO2 emissions Literacy Wars AIDS deaths Terrorist attacks Debt ratio Unemployment Calories per capita Health care Forest lands Rich poor gap …


24 The problem of disaggregation Becoming more useful: linking to decision makers Extending the unknowable

25 Given a set of forecasts and the passage of time, we can check to see Which have occurred when expected Which have not happened but may yet What was omitted from the study Omitted futures are Unknown but knowable, given the right tools Unknown and unknowable 2

26 Im 3

27 MRI and CAT scans Housing bubble Cold war collapse Nanotechnology Google Green revolution HIV/AIDs Hubble and the Large Hadron Collider 5

28 Anchored in history Extrapolative : Most forecasts most of the tim Scheduled and planned Popular Image Unanchored (unknown and unknowable) 7

29 Plausibility HighLow Significance High Low Extrapolative Scheduled and planned Popular Images Unanchored 8 The Shape of Future Ideas

30 Ideas before their time, non-Gaussian, non-linear, non-extrapolative, unexpected, often seen as infeasible or undesirable, counter paradigmatic Controlled anti-gravity Faster than light particles or waves Time travel to the past Controlled positive telepathy Discovery of the cause of the big bang Proof that we are indeed alone in the universe Youth pill Understanding cellular differentiation 16

31 Greed, corruption, and deceit led to a world recession Over $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year; organized crime takes in over $2 trillion Most of the annual 50 million tons of e-waste is dumped in developing countries 12–27 million people are slaves today Media focuses on trivial news, and encourages unneeded products and unethical behavior.

32 The Chinese godmother case Chinas education minister in a corruption scandal Is China is stripping Africa of raw materials? New US 'hate crime' legislation that adds sexual orientation to other protected categories Shooting in Afghanistan: where is the breaking point Insider trading prosecution using big stick Former commissioner of the NYPD pleaded guilty to corruption charges A dozen states sue drug manufacturer over allegations of kickbacks Source: Nov 9,

33 Low Corruption High Corruption

34 Principles of conduct (human behavior not things) Right vs. wrong (legal vs. illegal) -easy Right vs. right- tough Ends based Utilitarian- greatest good for greatest number Rules based Kantian: behavior followed by everyone Care based Golden rule Source: Institute for Global Ethics

35 Justice vs. Mercy The death penalty Short-term vs. long term The stimulus package Individual vs. Community Cheating on taxes Truth vs. Loyalty Whistle blowing Source: Institute for Global Ethics

36 The airline captain and the dying passenger The cash flows in Bosnia The prospect for avalanche or bankruptcy

37 Question: Does the acceleration of science, and the technology that follows, lead to a better world?

38 Government social marketing Positive weather control Cheap fresh water from salt water Massively destructive cyber-attacks Attempts at revival of extinct species Large scale improvement in life expectancy Chemicals for improving intelligence Invisibility cloaking Brain decoding

39 Early '80's Venezuela: Minister of State for the Development of Human Intelligence. The country was 85% illiterate Mission: to raise the level of intelligence of the nation New mothers: taught foundations of intelligence for their babies 20 five-minute spots on TV channels and in community The arts and thinking skills were taught University professors: how to be thought-provoking Worker training programs for illiterate adults

40 Chimeras: laboratory mice with human brain cells Mapping the synapses Human- computer symbiosis, (neural caps) Human to human transfer: synapse interconnect Brain boosters Computers as legal persons with emotions Methods to improve collective intelligence Tailored psychotropes (dream pills) Intuition, spiritual, and para-psychological phenomena Thought-control technology Source: Millennium Project, S&T Study 2001, and TG

41 Millennium Project, Identify the key ethical issues of the next 50 years Identify the key solution principles. 300 participants Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia, Middle East, Africa Academics, consultants, NGOs, government, corporate

42 Round 1 Identify unique issues, promising to change human behavior, for better or worse. (Time periods: 2010, 2025, 2050) 1300 suggestions, edited to 870 Statements about ethical decision principles Round 2 For ethical issues: judge importance and difficulty to resolve For the ethical decision principles: judge how widely the principles might be accepted

43 Ethical Norms Freedom Justice Compassion Drivers Instinct Media Religion Family Technology Decision Principles People are responsible for actions Survival is the highest priority. Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm. Golden rule Ethical Issues Come From Conflict Privacy vs. Security of the group Technology Economics Natural Phenomena Terrorism

44 Drivers Culture: The family is the fundamental nucleus Religion Tradition The social environment Violence in the media. Demographics Peers (or anti peers) Technology and science

45 Ethical Norms Global ethical norms are as important as international laws. -Primacy of the family -Democracy, freedom. -Protection of the planet -Justice -Compassion -Security -Value of imagination -Value of the human being -Love of people, animals, nature

46 Decision Principles Access to education is a fundamental right. The rights of women and children are uninfringeable Be fair Consider the environment and biodiversity Human survival is the highest priority. Make decisions which do no harm. Science, technology should serve society, rather than just pursue knowledge.

47 Ethical Issues Come From Conflict TechnologyEconomics Natural Phenomena Terrorism Is it ethical for society to create artificially intelligent elites? Should there be limits to pursuit of happiness? Should elimination of aging be available to all? Is it right to create intelligent beings that can compete with humans?

48 Ethical Issues Come From Conflict TechnologyEconomics Natural Phenomena Terrorism Should there be a right to suicide, euthanasia? Will it be right to modify newborns future violent behavior (search for SIMAD?) Is it ethical to extend lifespan at any cost?

49 The right to see or to be not seen The right to influence The right to constrain based on anticipation The right to intervene based on behavior

50 Some principles apply across time (in top 10 across time): Access to education is a fundamental human right. People must be responsible for their actions or inactions. Human survival as a species is the highest priority. Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Science and technology should serve society, rather than pursue knowledge for its own sake.

51 Promote human survival Take responsibility Would it be acceptable if you were recipient Promote education Use science and technology to serve society Care for future generations Do no harm Have universal applicability Show compassion, justice, fairness. Safeguard the rights of women and children Mitigate suffering

52 Would you want everyone to do as you have done? (Rule based) Does it benefit more people than it hurts (Ends based) Would you want it done to you? (Care based) Do no harm (Hippocratic oath) Would you mind seeing it in the NYT?

53 Transinstitutions Many challenges cannot be addressed by existing organizations acting alone. A New Decision Training Curriculum Irrational decisions, lessons of history, futures research, cognitive science, statistics, decision support methods, collective intelligence, ethics, goal seeking, risk, leadership, transparency, accountability, participatory decisionmaking. Keep humans in the loop Much decision making can be automated, but autonomous systems carry danger.

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