jueves, marzo 28, 2013

The Mule and the Black Swan: Retrospective only outliers of extreme impact

The subheading of the article 3 Reasons Why Your Predictions Of The Future Will Go Wrong, written by: Jamais Cascio on Fast Company, tells that “Three animal metaphors--the dragon, the black swan, and the mule--describe three different ways the future can sneak up on you, and the different reasons why you couldn’t predict what would happen.” Maybe there are only two reasons why predictions will go wrong.

By probably missing the “not prospective” predictability attribute of what a Black Swan actually is, I guess Mr. Cascio might be telling Mr. Taleb that Isaac Asimov’s Mule anticipated an important insight of the Black Swan theory. According to Wikipedia, specifically, Taleb asserts[7] in the New York Times:

"What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme 'impact'. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable."

"I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme 'impact', and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explains almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives."

Then maybe there are only two distinct metaphors: Dragons being the other one. Are Dragons actually dangerous and uncertain? What if instead of being uncertain they are outliers. Assuming that dangerous is the same as extreme ‘impact,’ the only difference remaining is that Dragons would be prospective.

Maybe there are only two attributes. If outliers are not redundantly restricted by being only retrospective, as “nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility,” like Mr. Taleb says, a doublet not a triplet is needed. Dragons are the prospective only outliers with extreme ‘impact,’ while the Mule and the Black Swan are retrospective only outliers with extreme ‘impact.’