Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The End of the World is Just the Beginning

I take all predictions with a grain of salt, especially so when the predictor is so confident in his assertions. Predicting the future correctly is extremely difficult, and to do so without the requisite humility is a giant red flag. So I had a hard time getting through The End of the World is just Beginning.

I did get through it though because there were a lot of good history in it, like the history of city formation and the history of currency. But even these forays into history contained squint-inducing confident and simplistic explanations of cause and effect.

The author is predicting the downfall of global trade because of demographics and climate change, I think. (I confess it was difficult for me to decipher exactly why he predicts such doom in the 2020s: he doesn't spend a lot of time explaining why he thinks things will change; most of the book is about foretelling what will change.

Predictions at the macro level are rife with traps. Even if what you say comes to pass (which is hard enough to get right), behaviours adapt. For example, the author predicts massive economic hardship due to increases in shipping costs as a result of increased piracy due to reduced American military influence protecting maritime trade. Just getting all those causes right in isolation is hard enough (Will America reduce its influence over maritime trade? Will other countries successfully fill the void? Will private security forces be able to combat piracy?), but then to think you can predict the impact of the adaptations to this (Will technology changes e.g. 3D printing reduce the need for shipping? Will manufacturing shift closer to demand?) even if you are right is downright arrogant!

Skip this one, you'll be better of for it!

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