Sunday, December 21, 2003
Profiles of the Future: Weather Control
"Perhaps the only excuse for NOT walking, when short distances are involved, is the weather, and even this excuse will eventually vanish. In the cities, of course, the weather will be fully controlled before another century has passed; and outside them, even if we cannot control it, we will certainly be able to predict it and make plans accordingly."
An excellent example of the increasing complexity of complex systems. My expertise is not math (if it is anything at all), but I wonder if Chaos Theory had yet taken root when this book was written. I'm sure that at the time it looked like there should be a straightforward process required to tame the weather. Now we have an idea of just how complex (and difficult to predict) a system like the weather is. Now there is still more than 50 years to go in his prediction, and I will try not to make the same mistakes the he correctly cautions about by saying that it won't happen that we could control the weather within the remaining time, but I do feel doubtful at this time. It is definitely a problem where the answer will arise from something that we are just not able to see at this point. A discovery must be made that wholly changes how we view this kind of problem.
The point that seems more egregious, however, is the assumption that we might WANT to control the weather, or that we could agree on HOW we want the weather to be, and, most importantly, what the IMPACTS of this kind of control on the Earth's ecological system might be. This, I believe, is a common mistake of future forecasters: The neglect of the impact of a larger system on the thing they are predicting in its eventual outcome. Political, economical, ecological, and sociological impacts are just a few of the processes that tend to play strong regulatory roles in how technology develops.