Seeing into the Future: A Short History of Prediction (Hardcover)
The ability to predict the future is essential to modern life. Planning for population growth or changes in weather patterns or forecasting demand for products and managing inventories would be impossible without it. But how have people through the ages gone about making predictions? What were their underlying assumptions, and what methods did they use? Have increased computer power and the newest algorithms improved our success in anticipating the future, or are we still only as good (or as bad) as our ancestors bent over their auguries? From the ancients watching the flight of birds to the murky activities of Google and Facebook today, Seeing into the Future provides vital insight into the past, present, and—of course—future of prediction.
About the Author
Martin van Creveld is professor emeritus at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and the author of many books including Wargames: From Gladiators to Gigabytes and The Privileged Sex.
"What will the weather be like tomorrow, next week, next year? Will there be another war, famine, global pandemic? Will the stock market rise or fall? In Seeing into the Future, military historian and theorist Martin van Creveld provides an overview of some of the myriad methods humans have devised over the millennia to foretell what is to come, from the ancients’ use of prophecy and astrology to today’s mathematical algorithms. In addition to delving into when, where, why, and how those techniques originated, he discusses such questions as why prediction is so difficult, whether modern humans are any better at making predictions than our ancestors were, and whether knowing the future is a good thing."
— Physics Today
"Van Creveld summarizes this book by considering just how accurate these models can be, and indeed how accurate they should be. Any real ability to foresee the future is, he suggests, likely to be just as dangerous as past rulers thought they would be when they sentenced prophets and mystics to the flames or the axe! . . . This is an interesting book on a topic which we have all pondered at some time, and provides a great deal of food for thought."
— Magonia Review of Books
"Martin van Creveld’s Seeing into the Future is a widely informed and deeply thoughtful examination of a critical area of human concern. Anyone seeking insight into the futurology and forecasting, with its manifold involvements in religion, sociology, science, and practical affairs will profit from this instructive and insightful work."
— Nicholas Rescher, distinguished professor of philosophy, University of Pittsburgh