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Confluence of coincidence and unpredictable consequences


On one hand the use of probabilistic mathematics to predict future trends, patterns and relationships is well established. On the other hand, even small deviations can result in much different outcomes. The butterfly effect describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. A metaphor for this behaviour is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set in motion a series of events that eventually results in a tornado impacting Texas. Throughout history rare and unpredicted events have changed the expected course.

In our personal lives, we often engage in repeatable patterns such as going to work and returning home every day until, unexpectedly some event, perhaps an injury, or we fall in love after which a completely different pattern emerges. The outcomes of major battles sometimes have swung against the odds due to some unexpected factor or variable and hence changed the course of history.

The dinosaur extinction, believed to be triggered by an asteroid that created the Chicxulub Crater (110 miles in diameter) on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. It is also believed that consequent volcanic eruptions in India at the time of the asteroid strike played a role in the extinction. The proliferation of mammals may never have occurred if the dinosaurs were not dramatically wiped out.

We have a few theories that point to the confluence of coincidence:

- Chaos when present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. Chaos mathematics seeks to build understanding of how predictable systems eventually appear to become unstable or random.

- Entropy theory states that the tendency to randomness of a system may only increase in time.

- Murphy’s Law “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong” highlights that however unlikely a possibility might be, it can happen anywhere along a continuum.

We can be certain that even in the short timeframe of 80 years the predictable pattern and momentum of life will be impacted by events we cannot predict today.

Purpose: To consider how a confluence of coincidence might impact the world in the next 80 years.

Discussion: Our lives are comprised of patterns of behaviour that are the result of habits formed by our lazy brain and conscious responses to stimuli we encounter around us. We act in the moment never knowing for certain whether a split-second decision may put us on a different trajectory.

Could I have predicted the achievements and major events in my life? The answer is, yes to a degree. None of us have full control over all the variables in our life. We make choices amidst a sea of variables. Some of the variables we may understand. Many of the variables we at best have only a small amount of control over.

Even our interpretation of what is happening now is relative to the perspective we are looking from. Our perspective at this moment is likely to be different to our recollection in the future. The event itself did not change, but our perspective on the event almost certainly will.

When we focus on the big picture, we often miss the detail. The deep ocean viewed from an aeroplane at 10000 ft. looks similar in all directions. That same ocean from the perspective of a person floating in a life raft looks completely different.

If we could predict future schisms in the current pattern of our lives, could we create an alternative? Probably, to a degree. If you have ever calculated the permutations possible from even a relatively small number of options, you realise how complex it is to accurately predict the future. With every fraction of a second that passes, something could occur that shifts the pattern. Even a small shift can sometimes create complex changes.

A confluence of coincidence is a point where two or more events occur at the same time to cause a trajectory that until that event could not be predicted. Sometimes they significantly change the established pattern or norm.

Can this be predicted mathematically or is this what we mean by fate? Chaos and the tendency for entropy to increase with time tells us to expect change.

In the life of the planet 80 years does not seem very long, a blink of an eye. Major events in the history of Earth tell us that some enormous changes can transform life as we know it within weeks days and seconds. Darwin’s theory of natural selection is well supported, changes are triggered in some way and possibly rapidly due to circumstance, entropy, or so-called genetic drift.

I searched for historical figures who dared contemplate the future to see how accurate their predictions were. What I found out was, trying to predict the future, even over a mere 80 years, seems to be impossible.

Below are some of Nikola Tesla’s predictions from the 1930’s:

- I am convinced that within a century coffee, tea, and tobacco will be no longer in vogue. Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life.

- In the twenty-first century the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization.

- the forced sterilization of criminals and other supposed undesirables would somehow purify the human race by 2100.

I have not found future quotes that consider the confluence of coincidence. That is because we extrapolate from what we know, from known patterns and probabilistic estimates.

Whatever our current view or current model on climate change might be, it is almost certain that some unexpected event of coincidence of events will make those predictions laughable by 2101.

2101: Spark of Hope is a story that highlights how it is never over until it’s over. There will always be the potential for completely unpredicted shifts in patterns and momentum.

A quote to consider:

- “The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.” — Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time.

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