Paul Krugman's Asimov Inspiration
During a PBS interview with this year's Nobel Prize winner in economics, Dr. Paul Krugman, I found out something I didn't know about Krugman. His career choice was inspired by the science fiction he read as a boy.
(Paul Krugman, erstwhile psychohistorian)
"When and why did you decide to become an economist in the first place?"
"That's a little embarrassing. I don't know how many of your viewers read science fiction, but there's a very old series by Isaac Asimov - the Foundation novels - in which the social scientists who understand the true dynamics save civilization. That's what I wanted to be; it doesn't exist, but economics is as close as you can get, so as a teenager I really got into it."
Krugman is talking about the psychohistorians like Hari Seldon, who practiced the science of psychohistory; in the Foundation series, Seldon predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire and then works with a team to reduce the period during which civilization falls into barbarism to a single millenium.
Here is how Isaac Asimov defines psychohistory in the novel:
PSYCHOHISTORY–...Gaal Dornick, using nonmathematical concepts, has defined
psychohistory to be that branch of mathematics which deals with the
reactions of human conglomerates to fixed social and economic stimuli....
... Implicit in all these definitions is the assumption that the human
conglomerate being dealt with is sufficiently large for valid statistical
treatment. The necessary size of such a conglomerate may be determined by
Seldon's First Theorem which ... A further necessary assumption is that the
human conglomerate be itself unaware of psychohistoric analysis in order
that its reactions be truly random ...
The basis of all valid psychohistory lies in the development of the Seldon Plan.
Functions which exhibit properties congruent to those of such social and
economic forces as ...
The quote is from the Newshour with Jim Lehrer for Monday, October 13, 2008.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/14/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )
Related News Stories -
3RDiTEK Lifeblogging Headband Camera
'It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box.' - Charles Stross, 2007.
Robot Lawyers And Robot Judges Now Everywhere
'The law clerk arrived, a smallish robot with a battered stainless steel hide and dull coppery features.' - Frederik Pohl, 1954.
Roam-e Flying Selfie Drone Cam
'Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me...' -Karen Traviss, 2004.
DoNotPay Lawyer Program Contests Parking Tickets
'I want my lawyer program.' - David Brin, 1990.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Snap Specs - Snapchat Spectacles - Are Video Glasses
'The old woman laid her wire-knitting aside and fixed them with the bug-eyed, opaque gape...'
Reading A Scroll Burned To Charcoal
'The scope was adjusted to generate... an image of the lower section of the book.'
Robot Arrested In Moscow
They should have thrown a net over him.
Oh Great, Fence-Climbing Robots
How long till they add the acid-tipped stingers?
Software Agents Fight Unseen On The Web
'...Worms and counter-worms loose on the data-net.'
Sandisk 1 Terabyte SD Memory Card Surfaces
'They should be Welton Fine-Grains, or they would be too bulky to ship...'
Carbyne, The Ultimate Form Of Carbon
'A continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal...'
Bradbury's Method Used In Search For Bombing Suspect
'He imagined thousands on thousands of faces peering into yards, into alleys...'
New Laser Space Debris Clearing More Subtle Than Clarke's
Rather than nudge them up, nudge them down.
Robots Learn To Swarm Safely
'They were bronzy gleams of smooth motion...'
Samsung's Smart Ring
'Crayn glanced at his finger watch...'
Proposal To Use Lasers To Analyze Asteroids
'Wendis stared thoughtfully at the brilliant lines on the spectroscope screen.'
Autonomous Sumo Robot Wrestling Video
'The expressionless face before me was therefore that of the golem-wrestler...'
Fashion Needs To Step Up Technology Education
'Keeping up with advances in fashion is almost as easy as reading - if you're reading science fiction.'
Youbionic 3D Printed Hand A Dark Knight Masterpiece
'A self-contained robot of precision quality usually joined to his right wrist'
Robots Now Know How To Cause Pain
'THE HATE I FEEL FOR HUMANS AT THIS MICRO-INSTANT...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories