Author Topic: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity  (Read 8638 times)

Brother Mythos

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A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« on: July 05, 2019, 06:02:59 pm »
How much longer till we all die off? 760 years, give or take.

As per the article:

'The most mind-boggling controversy in the contemporary philosophy of science is the “doomsday argument,” a claim that a mathematical formula can predict how long the human race will survive. It gives us even odds that our species will meet its end within the next 760 years.

The doomsday argument doesn’t tell what’s going to kill us — it just gives the date (very, very approximately).

When I first came across this idea, I thought it was absurd. A prediction must be founded on data, not math! That is by no means an uncommon reaction. One critic, physicist Eric J. Lerner, branded doomsday “pseudo-science, a mere manipulation of numbers.”'

Here's the link: https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/6/28/18760585/doomsday-argument-calculation-prediction-j-richard-gott

Gott, the creator of the prediction technique, calls it  “the Copernican method.” 

That's a damn good name to build a marketing campaign around, and I would normally dismiss something like this out of hand, except for the lulz possibilities. But, Gott did get his prediction technique published in the prestigious journal Nature.

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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2019, 06:24:13 pm »
That's a rather optimistic estimate
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2019, 06:39:01 pm »
How much longer till we all die off? 760 years, give or take.

As per the article:

'The most mind-boggling controversy in the contemporary philosophy of science is the “doomsday argument,” a claim that a mathematical formula can predict how long the human race will survive. It gives us even odds that our species will meet its end within the next 760 years.

The doomsday argument doesn’t tell what’s going to kill us — it just gives the date (very, very approximately).

When I first came across this idea, I thought it was absurd. A prediction must be founded on data, not math! That is by no means an uncommon reaction. One critic, physicist Eric J. Lerner, branded doomsday “pseudo-science, a mere manipulation of numbers.”'

Here's the link: https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/6/28/18760585/doomsday-argument-calculation-prediction-j-richard-gott

Gott, the creator of the prediction technique, calls it  “the Copernican method.” 

That's a damn good name to build a marketing campaign around, and I would normally dismiss something like this out of hand, except for the lulz possibilities. But, Gott did get his prediction technique published in the prestigious journal Nature.

I'm familiar with this argument, and it fails because the same reasoning can be used to prove other numbers for the end of the world. For example, civilization has existed for 10000 years so under the copernical principle we might expect it to last for another 10000 years. Anatomically modern humans have been around for around 300000 years, so we might expect another 300000, or we might expect to lasy the average lifespan of an apex predator species, or a keystone species
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2019, 08:19:20 pm »
couldn't you use this technique to predict the end of numbers, themselves? 

"i've counted 10,000 numbers, so there's probably, like, 10,000 more"
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Brother Mythos

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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2019, 09:52:20 pm »
That's a rather optimistic estimate

That thought also occurred to me, upon reading it for the first time.

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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2019, 11:30:32 pm »
couldn't you use this technique to predict the end of numbers, themselves? 

"i've counted 10,000 numbers, so there's probably, like, 10,000 more"

As per the article:

“The Copernican principle is normally uncontroversial when applied to an observer’s location in space. Gott’s idea was, why not apply it to a location in time?”

So, if the Copernican principle can be applied to a location space, and extended to a location in time, why not extend it once again to a location on a number line? After all, a number line is kind of a dimensional, spacey thing, isn't it?

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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2019, 12:14:09 am »
The author of this idea used it to "accurately" predict the date of the fall of the Berlin wall.  The basic idea is that if you know the age of something, there is a 50% chance that it will end after between one third and three times its current age.  I checked the math; it is numerically correct.

However, when the prediction is right, the margins can be huge.  If you estimated the lifetime of the Berlin Wall in, say, 1982, the model predicts it will fall sometime between 1989 and 2045.  That's not useful.

The model also conflates the idea of being right 50% of the time, and having a 50% chance of being right at any given time.  And, when its predictions are wrong, they're hilariously wrong.

Mathematically, this model works just as well for predicting the remaining height of a mountain, based on how far up it you have climbed.  For a thousand foot mountain, the prediction will be correct 50% of the time (between 250 and 750 feet).  However, at 999 ft, with one foot left to go, it will predict you have between 333 and 2997 feet left.  Even assuming you're ascending the mountain in complete fog, and can't just look at the peak, or do trigonometry or something, the only assumption you can make after climbing the mountain X feet is that the mountain must be at least X feet high.  The model isn't giving you anything of value.

More examples:
A 6-day old baby has a 50% chance of having a total lifespan between 8 and 24 days.
A car with 300,000 miles on it has a 50% chance of lasting another 100,000 to 900,000 miles.

Being right 50% of the time over the range of possible samples obviously does not mean that your model has a 50% chance of being right for any given sample.

« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 12:28:14 am by chaotic neutral observer »
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2019, 12:20:04 am »
couldn't you use this technique to predict the end of numbers, themselves? 

"i've counted 10,000 numbers, so there's probably, like, 10,000 more"
Or similarly, "I've already been walking in a circle for three hours, so I have better-than-even odds of reaching the end within nine hours."
« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 12:21:54 am by chaotic neutral observer »
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2019, 02:25:34 pm »

What kind of douchebag calls his method "Copernican"?  :lulz:

If anyone knows please let me know, I know I could check myself but its so dumb that I dont want to put effort into it.
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2019, 03:53:31 pm »

What kind of douchebag calls his method "Copernican"?  :lulz:

If anyone knows please let me know, I know I could check myself but its so dumb that I dont want to put effort into it.
He's a professor at Princeton.  He's on the record as claiming 95% confidence that humans will last more than 5100 but less than 7.8 million years.

The author of the linked article, on the other hand, is trying to sell a book.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 03:57:51 pm by chaotic neutral observer »
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2019, 05:09:25 am »

What kind of douchebag calls his method "Copernican"?  :lulz:

If anyone knows please let me know, I know I could check myself but its so dumb that I dont want to put effort into it.
He's a professor at Princeton.  He's on the record as claiming 95% confidence that humans will last more than 5100 but less than 7.8 million years.

The author of the linked article, on the other hand, is trying to sell a book.

Im sorry, I phrased it horribly, I was really tired - what I meant is why would he call it "Copernicus/Copernican method", so what I found was:

Quote
"Gott calls his procedure the Copernican method, a reference to Copernicus' observation that there is nothing special about the place of the earth in the universe. Not being special plays a key role in Gott's method."

I dont see any good reason to name it that, beyond marketing and association with an important figure... which says a lot.
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2019, 10:42:00 pm »
Speaking as a mathematician, Statistics is Voodoo Mathematics.
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2019, 08:03:29 am »
Arise chicken, arise.

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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2019, 12:57:38 pm »
Speaking as a mathematician, Statistics is Voodoo Mathematics.
:kingmeh:

If you were an actual mathematician, I would think you might have the ability and inclination to post something relevant to this thread.

I'm betting you're a numerologist, at best.
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Re: A math equation that predicts the end of humanity
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2019, 02:02:06 pm »
Speaking as a mathematician, Statistics is Voodoo Mathematics.

Balls.   It's computation of probabilities. 

It's not stat's fault if you choose to read things into the data that aren't there.
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