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Dealing With Uncertainty Workshop on Perspective-based Envisioning Tools IRI, May 21-23, 2001 Hadi Dowlatabadi Center for Integrated Study of the Human.

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Presentation on theme: "Dealing With Uncertainty Workshop on Perspective-based Envisioning Tools IRI, May 21-23, 2001 Hadi Dowlatabadi Center for Integrated Study of the Human."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dealing With Uncertainty Workshop on Perspective-based Envisioning Tools IRI, May 21-23, 2001 Hadi Dowlatabadi Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, & University Fellow, Resource for the Future National Science Foundation, USDOE, EPRI, NOAA, USEPA, ExxonMobil, API and CMU CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon

2 2 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon

3 3 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Outline Definitions Function and uncertainty Cognitive ignorance A Strategy for moving forward.

4 4 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Definitions Many attempts at taxonomy … What is uncertain: » Parametric » Structural » Values and preferences Other relevant factors: » Heterogeneity, » Variability,

5 5 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Definitions Our QUEST for a FIRMA grip on VISIONS can be met by using a TETRADEDRAL networked CAMERA “The FUTURE as a fuzzy object is represented in a composite which in the context of sustainability concerns will be a set of scenarios characterized simultaneously in the systems feasibility and social significance terms.”

6 6 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Agency Limited detection Imperfect knowledge Values that change with contexts/time. Blunt mechanisms for realizing goals...implement a chosen strategy,...humans perceive changes in their environment,... attribute their origin & project their future trends,...evaluate various options, Feedback Human

7 7 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Function and Uncertainty Many uncertainties are functionally unimportant or are relatively easy to address. I can wear a GoreTex coat and free myself from unreliable rainfall predictions. Resolution of uncertainties is desirable if uniform objectives are at stake. Resolution of uncertainties is undesirable if distributional uncertainty fosters cooperation.

8 8 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Cognitive Ignorance The questions we are concerned with often require consideration of future end-states unknown to us through experience, but are feared to arise either due to policy inaction or as a consequence of ill conceived policy » Uncertain dynamics, » Uncertain paths, » Uncertain final states, » Uncertain contexts and tastes. What does this mean for participatory methods and stakeholder consultations? What does it mean for making comparative judgments and choices (even when stakeholders are excluded)?

9 9 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Changes are mostly local: Pittsburgh temperatures TSP & SO2SO2OPEC/CAA 2°C

10 10 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon In stochastic environments attribution is difficult Climate is a stochastic process: » the climate of any location involves variability in realized weather; » extreme weather events occur rarely; » the most visible/memorable impacts are due to these extremes; » rarity of extreme events makes detection of trends in extremes difficult; 4If a stiff breeze in autumn leads to a shower of dead leaves, we recognize that the breeze did not kill the leaves. 6Why then do we so readily attribute the large economic and social dislocations of to high oil prices?

11 11 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon With multiple simultaneous processes at different scales, detection is difficult Will we detect sea level rise directly and move our homes in response? We expect detection of sea level:≈ 5 mm/year when tides are:≈ 500 mm/day when storm surges are: ≈ 5000 mm/hour  Detection of slow secular changes is difficult.  Institutions can help provide the information needed to address this issue.  More often though, we fight a rearguard action in response to extreme events.

12 12 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Summary Humans as heterogeneous adaptive agents of change are facing a dynamic environment where multiple stochastic forces of change are acting simultaneously on a system where different interacting components are capable of responding to change at very different times-scales. There are real problems in understanding what is going on. Along with the above challenges of scientific uncertainty, we have a system of collective decision-making where response to extreme events often dominate other concerns.

13 13 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon A Way Forward In truth, and contrary to many representations, the issues we are most worried about are not two period models with resolution of all uncertainty in some future period. They are multi-period games with changing knowledge and preferences. Exploratory simulations: Engaging People Engaging Computers ICAM-n QUEST DICTUM VISIONS

14 14 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Questions? The role of science fiction? Rational actors? Participatory methods? Bias and surprise? System stability? How to design applied research for high impact?

15 15 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Fuzzy Production for Them and Us

16 16 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Tolerance of Inconsistency for the Sake of Co-existence Inconsistency can be a “stable” solution through dynamic allocation of power to co-existing parties. The key to such a system is a swing population. An aspect of this system is the relationship between residence time in a given state and other time constants of importance to society. The swing population can simply be age/cohort driven. There will be uncompensated distributional impacts for phenomena whose lifetime is shorter than the time constant of residence in each state.

17 17 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Only One Other Group is as Pre- occupied with “Global” Uncertainties

18 18 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon Only One Other Group is as Pre- occupied with “Global” Uncertainties

19 19 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon The Challenge of Using Uncertainties EPA research manager: “you emphasize uncertainties because you want to delay action!” At the US Congress Democratic Rep.: “Look at that! There is a chance of a disaster. We must act now.” Republication Rep.: “Look the other way! for so much of the time there is no problem.” Net CostDo NothingNet Benefit Probability density

20 20 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon The Challenge of Impact Attribution Climate is a stochastic process: » the climate of any location involves variability in realized weather; » extreme weather events occur rarely; » the most visible/memorable impacts are due to these extremes; » rarity of extreme events makes detection of trends difficult; » often various impacts are inappropriately attributed to weather extremes.  e.g., A stiff breeze in autumn leads to a shower of dead leaves. But we all recognize that the breeze did not kill the leaves?

21 21 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon The Challenge of Cost Attribution Economics is a stochastic process: » the economy of any location involves variability in realized growth; » extreme economic events occur rarely; » the most visible/memorable impacts are due to these extremes; » rarity of extreme events makes detection of trends difficult; » often various impacts are anappropriately attributed to economic extremes.  e.g., A rise in oil prices leads to a flood of steel-worker layoffs. Many attribute the massive OECD economic disruptions in 1974 to the actions of OPEC.

22 22 CIS oƒ HDGC Carnegie Mellon We Need To Be More Humble! In deciding climate policy we readily admit scientific uncertainties. But we ought to admit to an equal measure of uncertainty in the limits of our knowledge about the design and efficacy of policy. Net CostDo NothingNet Benefit Probability density


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