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 ")

Apple Ring: Finally, Engineers Want To Make My Finger Watch
'Crayn glanced at his finger watch...' - HB Fyfe, 1951.

My Basic Income (Mein Grundeinkommen)
'Earned by just being born.'- Philip Jose Farmer, 1967.

Kollektomat Tithing Machine
'He pressed buttons cast in the likenesses of animals and demons...' - Roger Zelazny, 1965.

Internet Needs 'Hate Spell Checker' - Eric Schmidt
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...' - Philip K. Dick, 1964.

 

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

Denisovans, Neandertals... And Us?
'But in far realms, among strange hominids, you couldn't shun each other, either.'

Patented! Google's Autonomous Delivery Trucks
I hope Google's trucks can find my house!

3 Parent Embryos Approved By Bioethicists
' A tkan merely courts a mlenb and is attracted to a good guur...'

DIY Armed UAV (Toy)
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Tired Of Speeders On Your Block? DIY Speed Tracker!
'There is no danger of a vehicle's speed exceeding that allowed in the section in which it happens to be...'

Centriphone Whirling Selfie Camera
''Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me,' he told it...'

Eagles Vs. Drones
'Moon bird's view was... partly blocked by the pyramid, so that he did not see the bird-things dark against the brilliant sky...'

SCiO Scanner Wants You To Be Spock
Almost as easy as a tricorder?

Self-Adapting Composite Heals Itself
'...Could seal the punctures that grain-of-sand-sized meteors might make.'

Rigid Clothing, Or Wearable Furniture?
'Earth's scientists solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'

Swarming Intelligent Aquatic Surface Robots Ahoy!
'A remote-controlled emulsion, as it were, with uniform center...'

SuitX Cheap Medical Exoskeleton
'... standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'

Harvesting Energy From Internal Resonance
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'

Sticker Harvests Energy From Your Skin
Another way to harvest power from the body.

Twitter Sarcasm Detected By Computer
Seriously?

Myo-Controlled Prosthetic Arm
'Sensitive actuators touch the tendons in your right wrist.'

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.