If we had a crystal ball, no one in the world would have been shocked at our predicament and likely we would have avoided COVID-19.
But that’s about to change, albeit not the kind of where future lottery numbers are predicted or which sport teams will score what exact points or who will get injured playing, and when.
No, but some university scientists and researchers say they are close to doing just that.
On a more realistic scale, man and AI are making bold moves to anticipate behavior, trends and events before they happen.
Just like in the movies and in novels.
The “arts” of predicting
Science fiction writers have been spot on when predicting the kind of technological innovation that makes its presence decades later, and sci-fi film makers seem to get it right over and over again.
In H G Wells’ The World Set Free the author not only predicted the invention of the atomic bomb – he named it and explained how it would work.
Aldous Huxley predicted the invention and mass use of antidepressants in Brave New World.
Sixteen years ago a now famous episode of The Simpsons predicted that Donald Trump would become president of the United States.
Orwell’s 1984 contains countless predictions – from computer based speech transcription to facial recognition software.
More relevant to today’s pandemic, a theatre show developed in Athens 3 years ago seems to have predicted the appearance of a global epidemic powerful enough to shut down whole towns around the world. It’s aptly called The White Plague.
It’s sick, if you’ll excuse the pun, how close to reality we could be using a little thing called creativity.
But could predicting the future become a reality?
We predict that…
Researchers from the University of Southern California’s (USC) Viterbi Information Sciences Institute (ISI) are working hard on being able to predict the future, according to Interesting Engineering, and this by combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human predicting.
It’s called the Synergistic Anticipation of Geopolitical Events (SAGE) and it’s a way to predict the future without needing any experts and it relies on human participants interacting with machine learning tools in order to make more accurate forecasts of future events.
Ok, we will take with a grain of salt, but we can do something more realistic which is prepare for a more foreseeable future when it comes to pandemics.
Pandemics are not new, says the conversation.com.
We have historical records on the effects of pandemics dating from as early as 3000 BC. Between 1348 and 1350, the Black Death killed a quarter of the population in Europe.
The 1918 Spanish flu caused around 50 million deaths worldwide.
Today, clearer predictions on which social behaviors would affect the spread of a certain disease, would allow policy-makers o develop improved pandemic response plans.
“Our research group designed mathematical modelling and simulation tools for the visualization and analysis of complex social systems where the overall behaviour should study the individuals as well as their interactions,” said the Conversation.com.
According to a forecast model in Iceland, experts at the University of Iceland are predicting a more optimistic future in regards to COVID-19, saying that by the first week of April, only between 1,500 and 2,300 Icelanders are expected to be diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to a previous forecast of between 2,000 and 6,000 infected.