Note — Jan 16, 2022

Oh, 2022!

Come for Charlie Stross’ rule of thumb for predicting the near-future, leave (perhaps) because of the hypothetical MERS/COVID19-Omicron hybrid horror and misc virus talk, come back for 2031’s predictable and unpredictables bits, the “WTFery.”

Aside from my drôle(ish) first paragraph, definitely a good read, his rule of thumb (latest iteration 1st quote below) is a useful super quick mental model of how much unpredictability we might… predict, and he also packs in quite a few things to think about in terms of viruses, mRNA, the climate, and klept politics.

One takeaway: even things that were easy to predict to happen at some point remain entirely as potent and unpredictable since we can’t pinpoint exactly when they will happen. For example, lots of people knew a global pandemic was bound to happen at some point, but very few in 2018 would have predicted one within two years.

We're now up to about 20% of 10-year-hence developments being utterly unpredictable, leaving us with 55-60% in the "here today" and 20-25% in the "not here yet, but clearly on the horizon" baskets. […]

The klept built their wealth on iron and coal, then oil: they invested in real estate, inflated asset bubble after asset bubble, drove real estate prices and job security out of reach of anyone aged under 50, and now they'd like to lock in their status by freezing social mobility. […]

We may be entering a pre-revolutionary situation, or the ramp-up to a dictatorial clampdown (the latter is clearly in an advanced stage in both China and Russia). By 2031 it's likely to be resolved in one direction or another; I can only hope, with a minimum of bloodshed.