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)

Jim Lehrer
"When and why did you decide to become an economist in the first place?"

Paul Krugman
"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 ...

ENCYCLOPEDIA GALACTICA

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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )

Related News Stories - (" Culture ")

Scotland Set To Implement Basic Income
'Earned by just being born.'- Philip Jose Farmer, 1967.

Life In Detroit's 'Agrihood' - The First In The U.S.
'countless tiny brown circles in the green fields ...occasional ruins of ancient cities...' - Philip K. Dick, 1954.

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.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cormorant Flying Car
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...'

ElliQ Robot To Help Israel's Grandmas And Grandpas
'The robant and the tiny old woman entered the control room slowly...'

EU Debates Kill Switches For Robots
'I have a mechanism which our autofac on Mars builds as an... emergency safety...'

Scotland Set To Implement Basic Income
'Earned by just being born.'

Sales Robots More Persistent Than Humans
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing,,, shrilling...'

AI Identifies Suicidal Behavior With 93 Percent Accuracy
'...He padded into the living room, and seated himself by the suitcase; he opened it, clicked switches, and turned on Dr. Smile.'

Razer Project Valerie Laptop Unfurls
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently...'

Can Virtual Reality help People Cope With Pain?
Research is promising.

Dust Movement On The Moon, Saturn's Rings Solved
'...The dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.'

Largest Micro-Drone Swarm Release Successful
'... Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.'

Robot Motion Planning 10K Times Faster
'The robot crab... fired a burst of light, then froze...'

Reconfigured Graphene 10X Strong, 5 Percent Dense, As Steel
'...It was made of Alohydrolium, which is the lightest of all metals.'

Axiom - The World's First Private Space Station?
'So Webb Foster had built his space laboratory... It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter.'

DataTraveler Ultimate Generation 2 Terabyte Flashdrive
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary data spheres...'

HyperFace Aims To Foil Facial Recognition
'...A million and a half physiognomic fraction-representations of various people.'

MIT's aeroMorph Technology
'... It falls into that structure like a rubber figure returning to shape.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.