The problem with predictions

first_imgPeople have always yearned to see into the future, to peek around the corner and make sense of what’s going on, according to author and mathematician David Orrell.But predicting the future is difficult. And what’s more, the search for the “perfect model” of prediction often reveals as much about people’s sense of aesthetics as it does about the future, Orrell said last Thursday during “Perfect Model: The Past, Present, and Future of Prediction,” a talk sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.The ability to predict trends has grown over the centuries, he said, but not as much as people might think, especially in a few important areas.Climate change prediction, for example, is no better now than it was 30 years ago, he said; nobody predicted the 2008 financial crisis; “and even though the human genome is now mapped, we still can’t predict the spread of pandemics like avian flu or swine flu.”What’s the common tie among these problems?  “They’re connected to our worldview of how we think about prediction,” he said, and that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks.The Greeks believed that the cosmos was ruled by “mathematical harmony,” and followed the classical ideals of unity, stability, symmetry, elegance, and order, Orrell said. These ideals were reflected in architecture like the Pantheon in Rome, with its elegant geometry.Today, predictive models are largely governed by these same classical ideals or aesthetics.So how has the classical model worked to foretell the kinds of things that people are interested in predicting now, like economics, weather, or climate change? Not so well, Orrell said.Weather forecasting hasn’t improved as much as anticipated over the centuries, despite huge advances in computing, observational power from satellites, and demand from agriculture, he said. “Predictions may be good for a couple of days, but things like precipitation or extreme events remain particularly difficult to predict.”And as it turns out, it’s even harder to predict the economy than the weather.The neoclassical theory of economics was developed in the 19th century, inspired by Isaac Newton’s “rational mechanics.” The theory assumed that individuals act independently and rationally to maximize their own happiness.But does the economy act effectively, like a machine? Does it behave rationally? Does it conform to a “perfect model”? No, Orrell said, it doesn’t. Large deviations frequently occur, as seen in the economic collapse of 2008.Instead of finding a new way to think about modeling — either for weather or market forecasting — the old models simply get adjusted.The butterfly effect, for example, became the default explanation of why a weather forecast went wrong. That theory says that something as inconsequential as a butterfly flapping its wings can affect the weather on the other side of the world. In economics, the efficient-market hypothesis was used to explain away unpredictability. The theory holds that though markets cannot be predicted, risk can still be calculated using normal distribution, or “the bell curve,” another geometrically elegant solution influenced by classical thought.Perhaps the original models are simply wrong, said Orrel. Then the question becomes, “If we can’t predict the economic crisis, then how can we predict something like an environmental crisis?“We have to acknowledge that some things aren’t predictable,” he said. “We need to acknowledge the uncertainty of living systems.”New models are emerging from the life sciences that view the world as a living organism rather than a machine. “These models are coupled with a new aesthetic, which finds beauty in the complexity of life rather than the elegance of symmetry,” Orrell said.People need to stop trying to project their values onto the universe, he added.Currently, we model world systems based on stability, symmetry, order, and logic, he said. “We model people as if they were perfectly rational. We model the economy as if it obeyed [the Greek notion] of ‘harmony of the spheres.’” But the world is far wilder than that, he said.“Can we predict the exact timing of the next business, health, or climate crisis or opportunity?” Orrell asked. “No. But can we use available tools to better prepare ourselves, and make our businesses and institutions more flexible and robust? Yes. I think we can.”The lecture, held at the Geological Lecture Hall, was the seventh in a yearlong series about divination (from the Latin divinare, “to foresee, to be inspired by a god”) and the many ways humans attempt to understand the present and divine the future. It was sponsored the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University.For the next event, join award-winning photographer Stephen Dupont at the exhibition opening reception and book signing May 2 at the Peabody Museum from 5 to 7 p.m.last_img read more

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3 questions every credit union must ask during 2020 planning season

first_imgIn anticipation of strategic planning season, credit union leaders are contemplating how this year’s planning efforts can adequately address the unprecedented and wide-ranging needs of today’s members. With so much uncertainty around the long-tail economic, cultural and behavioral effects of COVID-19, it will be tricky to understand where a particular credit union can have the greatest impact.Yet, the promise of data analytics makes planning and “seeing ahead for members” and the credit union feel much more achievable. And to do that, leveraging the predictive power of data is key.The events that have occurred so far in 2020 have triggered something of an inflection point for credit unions. The movement’s foundational principles are more poignant and arguably needed more now than at any other time in our history. Ensuring the industry is well-positioned to help those who need us the most will require expansive thinkers who are ready to bring about real change – both for the movement and the people it serves. As such, we need to ask ourselves three critical questions:What does transformation mean for us? America is in the midst of sweeping societal evolution. How can credit unions of all sizes smartly see around the corner and get in position to help members prepare for what’s next? Digital and data transformation is not the exclusive domain of big banks and big tech – nor even just the largest credit unions. Small credit unions have just as much opportunity to become the nimble, digitally-forward and data-centric organizations today’s consumers need to achieve financial success . . . even as the world as they know it is changed forever.Is it better to build or buy? Fintech ceased being a “disruption” years ago; it’s now the rule. Consumers expect hyper-personalized, predictive banking experiences, and that requires supreme data competency and access to sophisticated technology. Credit unions must confront an age-old question for a new era: Do we build or do we buy? Digital transformation calls on credit unions to be agile and capable of executing fast. Fintech partnerships with like-minded innovators can add a layer of agility over a solid member-centric foundation.How do we innovate with intention? The pace of innovation can detract from the root need for change. How can credit unions develop and fine-tune a strategy to stay focused on who and for what they are innovating? The people-helping-people spirit continues to ring true in the hearts and minds of the industry’s leaders and the members it serves. As credit unions design their individual transformation roadmaps, it will be important to hold true to the movement’s foundational principles.I’ll discuss more on this topic at the Discovery 2020 Conference in a panel titled “People Helping People in the Digital Era,” and I hope you’ll consider joining us –  the virtual event has been hosted free and online for 11 years, so it promises to be a highly engaging conference full of practical ideas you can implement during this year’s strategic planning sessions. 32SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Shazia Manus At AdvantEdge Analtyics, Shazia Manus applies a futurist view to the field of analytics, helping credit unions discover new possibilities for exceptional member experiences. Prior to joining CUNA Mutual Group … Web: advantedgeanalytics.com Detailslast_img read more

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The three main priorities on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to-do list

first_img Arteta’s philosophy is almost inseparable from Guardiola, yet it took two summers and £200m on centre-backs to make his defence title-ready. Stylistically he looks to dominate, press high and push up: the further the opposition are away from your goal, the harder it is to score. But it is instances when Arsenal have played a high line, and when players must take individual ownership of defending space and winning their one-on-one duels, that they have looked most ragged. Ewan RobertsWednesday 18 Dec 2019 7:00 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link4.1kShares The novice Spanish manager faces a daunting task at the Emirates (Picture: Getty)With Freddie Ljungberg having failed to steady the increasingly turbulent Arsenal ship, the Gunners’ hierarchy have turned to another familiar face to try and resurrect their season. Former skipper Mikel Arteta – who was overlooked for the role when Arsene Wenger departed – is set to return to his old stomping ground after serving a three-and-a-half year apprenticeship at Manchester City. Now he must step out from Pep Guardiola’s enormous shadow.The task awaiting Arteta is no less gargantuan, with the Gunners having won just once in their last 14 matches in all competitions – and even that was only secured thanks to nine frantic minutes against West Ham that belied the lethargic and lacklustre play that had preceded it. On and off the pitch, Arteta has a plethora of issues to address but, in the middle of the packed Christmas fixture list, very little time to deal with them.AdvertisementAdvertisementWith just a few days until the Gunners take on Everton – another of Arteta’s old teams, just to add to the narrative – the Spaniard is facing a real baptism of fire at his new club…His coaching team What Arteta must do, immediately, is settle on an XI. Right now the players feel muddled and confused, a group of individuals rather than a team. Down the road at Tottenham, Mourinho named the side’s first unchanged team since March 2017 when they visited Molineux and secured a massive victory. Familiarity, structure, clarity, it is all hugely important. And it’s all been missing at the Emirates.The fans need it too, a sign that somebody knows what they’re doing; somebody has a plan. A former club captain, a player who understands the DNA created under Wenger as well what is required to win back-to-back Premier League titles. Get the fans up off their seats, thrill them with ferocious defending as well as incisive attacking, and get the Emirates rocking again. Over to you, Mikel.Will Mikel Arteta be a success at Arsenal?No0%Yes0%Share your resultsShare your resultsTweet your resultsMORE: Mikel Arteta gets front row seat to the Arsenal horror show awaiting himAdvertisementMORE: Pep Guardiola opens the door to Mikel Arteta taking Arsenal job after Manchester City victoryMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City Arsenal’s current setup is light on coaches and short on experience (Picture: Getty)‘If you look at the person who was here before, he had a lot of staff and maybe I don’t have so many. So if you keep on going like that for months and months, it’s not so easy,’ explained the Swede. ‘I have Per but at the same time he is academy manager but he is helping me with coaching.’Arteta will not be taking any of City’s staff with him – not with the champions having been so angered by the way Arsenal moved for their assistant – while so many of the experienced heads left behind by Wenger, such as Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann, have been culled. Getting his backroom team just right, finding the ideal blend of expertise and stylistic fit, will be one of his key first decisions. Most managers experience an element of trial and error when cultivating the necessary trust and harmony from an inner circle, but Arteta will have to hope he and his staff click from the off.The defence Arsenal fans have voiced their displeasure with both the team and the board (Picture: Getty)Even after almost a year-and-a-half in the job, Unai Emery had little concept on what his best XI actually looked like and interim boss Ljungberg has fared little better in his five games in charge. Striking the right balance in the team eluded both men, even after the latter had restored the exiled Mesut Ozil and reinstated Lucas Torreira to his natural position as a holding midfielder.Arsenal’s youngsters, meanwhile, have shown the most promise – rare bright sparks in otherwise dreary matches – and Gabriel Martinelli’s performances against West Ham and Manchester City validated Ljungberg’s decision to start him. Equally, it feels hard to justify leaving £48m man Alexandre Lacazette on the bench in both games, even if the Swede feels the side are more solid with only one of their star strikers on the pitch. Arsenal have been giving up more goals and shots than in Wenger’s final season (Picture: AP)In most mid-season rescue jobs, the manager parachuted in has a very specific profile, and very specific formula, for arresting the slide: think Roy Hodgson or Sam Allardyce spending hours on the training pitch repeatedly drilling the defence, working on tightening the space between the back-line and midfield. But Arsenal’s position is rather more curious than what we’ve seen before.AdvertisementAdvertisementDespite the state of chaos that envelops the club, and a run of form that has had some fans even fearing relegation, they are actually only seven points adrift of the top four. This season is no write-off; they have an abundance of firepower up top, but just lack a solid, dependable platform. Two clean sheets in 17 Premier League matches is the joint-worst in the division, though even that miserable record owes overwhelmingly to the reflexes of one of the league’s best goalkeepers. Strange, then, that Arsenal’s hierarchy have plumped for a project manager noted for his attacking coaching.Most shots conceded per Premier League match 2019/201. Aston Villa18.402. Norwich16.603. Arsenal16.404. Bournemouth15.40 Share Commentcenter_img Ljungberg on Aubameyang and Lacazette ‘We looked vulnerable defensively. But of course, they are both great players, that’s why I wanted them both on the pitch, but we became very vulnerable defensively. So we took the route against West Ham where we changed it and played one of them and then had more defensive organisation.’ There’s a stark contrast between City’s defence with and without £57m Aymeric Laporte (Getty)Any scenario that has David Luiz high up the pitch or exposes Sokratis to a foot race is something that should be avoided and this Arsenal back-line – as well as the passive midfielders meant to shield them – feels entirely unsuited to playing the way City do and the way Arteta wants to.City themselves have often had a vulnerable, makeshift backline and protect it by making tactical fouls early in transition and high up the pitch. Ljungberg noted it after Sunday’s game, admitting Arsenal needed to be more ‘cynical’ and street-wise like their opponents. For Arteta, striking the right balance between his own attacking principles and the limitations of Arsenal’s defence will be paramount, as well as introducing some more ugly elements to the beautiful football he advocates.AdvertisementUnite the team… and the fans The three main priorities on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to-do list Advertisement Advertisement Arteta was praised for the one-to-one work he did to help Raheem Sterling (Picture: GettyIt is very rare for a new manager to be given a job as difficult and tumultuous as the one that awaits Arteta at Arsenal. Usually a new project begins in the summer, with months to adapt to the new job, build a coaching staff and install a philosophy during the off-season. In the other half of north London, Jose Mourinho spent his time out of the game adapting and learning, poaching two coaches from Lille to join an already well established backroom team.ADVERTISEMENTBut time – the one thing Arteta will need most – is precisely what he is lacking. The most pressing concern he will have, and which will be preoccupying him right now, is the coaching staff he assembles. Freddie Ljungberg has been forced to work with a skeleton staff since Unai Emery’s departure, leaning on Per Mertesacker and even talking through ideas with technical director Edu.last_img read more

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