Thu, Jul 19th 2007 8:16am
Across many disciplines, it's common for experts to make bold forecasts about what the future may hold. Ostensibly these forecasts are based on science or sound models, but in the end, nobody can confidently predict the future. Even those forecasts that turned out to be correct don't say too much, because the forecaster could've just been lucky. For some time, software companies have been pushing software to help make accurate predictions of future patterns, but it's not clear how effective this really is. A recent study takes issue with this technology, particularly as it relates to predicting human behavior. Although models can attempt to paint a picture of how people will behave on the aggregate (as a group), they can't say much about the actual individuals that comprise the group -- human behavior is simply too variable to be reduced to an average or a smooth bell curve. What's more, decision makers don't know how to use or understand the data that they receive, which further compounds the problem. Predictive technology will remain an interesting area of further study, but it's foolish to think we're getting to the point that we can see the future.
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