Reflection on Prediction

A Brief History... with Jaemin

At the RCA private view the timeline - inspired a lot of debate, a lot more than I'd hoped for in fact from visitors - both strangers and friends. To the friends it was easy to explain that I wasn't trying to predict the future, I was simply extrapolating based on the current state of and position of economics. To strangers, this was harder - 'but it IS a prediction.'

Not really, the valid point was raised that knowing about the future allows us to mitigate for it. China's untenable economy will undoubtedly crash. This is foreseen by almost all mainstream economists and political theorists, and they can set a relatively accurate date for this catastrophe, but I'm not an economic millienialist and you won't catch me standing out the RCA screaming at the sky and handing out pamphlets - 'the end is nigh' style.

These crashes are indicative of the systems we put in place. Our economics, our politics our civilisation depends on booms and crashes - they redistribute wealth, they bring awareness, they often highlight the goodies and the baddies and force those with elected responsibility to at least take on the appearance of doing something - anything to solve the world's problems. Think of the outrage and backlash against the financial services, once admired and revered by politicians and the public alike as western economic stalwarts, once the ease of their corruptibility and their blatant disregard of moral hazard were brought to light in late 2008.

Our minds, once gathered into the mob, need baddies and goodies, need linear simplification, need scapegoats and specific instances, turning points, and events of almost filmic suitability that we can then tack the events that have embroiled us around them. The point of the timeline was not to predict the financial future but to draw out a strand of historic repetition dating back to the beginning of civilisation that relies on these clashes, these villains, these events and those who take advantage of them, whatever their form may be.

This perhaps answers the second point often raised - why was I condoning rampant capitalism? First, the specifics of the research and the design envisioned a post-capitalist world: Without wanting to rant about capitalism; (a contentious subject for any liberal lefty, open-minded transnationalist) it's the best humanity has ever had. And the specifics of destroying flat currency and the growth of a civilisation devoted to the single minded attribution and attainment of almost ethereal and obscure financial instruments defies the physical, consumerist and ownership concepts of capitalism. Most futures and derivatives are only held on to for seconds or minutes and are viewed as items to be kept in flux, not hoarded. Second: design activism always seems to be AGAINST powers and establishments. What if the markets were loosed on the world? Given early teething stages would they actually bring a conflict-cancelling balance that would trump the political side-stepping wranglings of consulting democracies?

I'm hoping to spend some time down there this week, and hopefully there'll be more debate with visitors and critics. I'll try and keep track of it all.