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 -
Lumo Projector Turns Kids Rooms Into Bradbury's Veldt
'The walls began to purr and recede... and presently an African veldt appeared...'- Ray Bradbury, 1951.
Hologram Protest World's First
'Their bodies were in their dwelling cells, but their telucid images filled the hall.'- RF Starzl, 1931.
Norlin Shoe Drone Robot UAV In-Store Delivery Thing
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling.'- Philip K Dick, 1954.
Brand Killer Helmet Blocks Real-Life Ads
'Some merely held the holos [ads] at arm's length.'- John Varley, 1977.
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.
Ecocapsule - Simak's Dream Of A Prefab House
'They are heated and air conditioned by a solar plant that tops anything... that we have today.'
New Super Slippery Surface Better Than Nature's
'The water flowed off those walls without binding tension.'
Killer Robot COTSBot Stalks Starfish
'X-120's long jointed arms swung swiftly. The tiny animal lay crushed...'
Heart-In-A-Box Saves Organ For Later
'Storage in the hospital's organ banks...'
MultiFab 10-Material 3D Printer
'On the concrete platform, in front of the dying Biltong, lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'
Chaac Ha Dew Collector ala Dune
'The surface condenses moisture out of the air. That moisture trickles down...'
Digital Immortality For Your Personality
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'
Robots Take Our Jobs By Reading Our Instructions
'The Talk Between Robots radio...'
Surgery In Space
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'
Flimmer Navy Drone Flies And Swims
Launch the Flying Sub!
Taser Drones Now Legal In North Dakota
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'
Growing Metal In The Shape You Want
What more do you need, engineers?
Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'
World's First Full-Colour, Flexible Thin-Film Reflective Display
'A wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour....'
Jazz AI Compliments Of DARPA
'I request that you feed the correlation between those dots and the levers of the panel into my memory banks.'
Tasty Space Lettuce!
Having tested, we tasted.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories