The scary part of AI predicting the future

“Future” not only holds dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties, it does also have vari­ety of def­i­n­i­tions from per­son to per­son. It can be seen in the form of an idea, a feel­ing, or a pic­ture. No mat­ter how scary or pleas­ant it is, peo­ple always enjoy pre­dict­ing their future at least until an arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) starts pre­dict­ing with cent per cent accu­ra­cy and unfolds their ter­ri­ble future sto­ries.

But what if AI can actually predict (predict means calculate) the future?

This sounds like a great idea for some human beings. It would be much eas­i­er for them to know what will hap­pen in the future. And this may lat­er on help them make bet­ter deci­sions or avoid some bad things. How­ev­er, that would be only the case if the future already exist­ed. For now, we don’t have any idea about how time works in the first place.

What does predicting the future mean?

Future, unlike most peo­ple, does not exist. It is only an assump­tion, not a sol­id fact. For exam­ple, it’s only a root­ed illu­sion of a tra­di­tion­al­ly imposed sketch of time in our mind, wrong­ly nam­ing them (past, present and future) as if they exist­ed. Even though it’s absolute­ly uncer­tain, the upcom­ing present cer­tain­ly rep­re­sents a frame or pos­si­bil­i­ty of com­ing into exis­tence; there­fore, humans essen­tial­ly try pre­dict­ing it.

There are basi­cal­ly two ways to pre­dict the future: Sci­ence (in the form of math­e­mat­i­cal for­mu­las) and tra­di­tion (in the form of nat­ur­al laws).

The first way can be uti­lized by sci­en­tists (human or AI), who test hypothe­ses accord­ing to sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ries. They come up with a hypoth­e­sis test­ing pat­tern. Then, they con­duct exper­i­ments to test that hypoth­e­sis if it could be ver­i­fied as a fact.

The sec­ond way is by using “nat­ur­al laws”. For exam­ple, when you see the sun, you know that it will stop appear­ing once it’s 7 PM. How­ev­er, if you don’t live in a place where the sun always stays there regard­less of time, this nat­ur­al law won’t work there. While cal­cu­lat­ing is essen­tial to sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly pre­dict the future, nat­ur­al laws need only a bun­dle of cir­cum­stances, like pre­dict­ing thun­der­storms point­ing to the clouds in the south­ern sky, to make pre­dic­tions about the future.

Calculating and predicting are NOT the same things

Cal­cu­lat­ing is about going through infor­ma­tion which has already exist­ed. For exam­ple, adding up two num­bers is an exam­ple of cal­cu­lat­ing. Pre­dict­ing is about mak­ing log­i­cal guess­es on some­thing that could hap­pen in the future. One way of doing so is in accor­dance with past data, sta­tis­tics and analy­sis. For exam­ple, one can pre­dict the future if they are aware of the past events.

The point is, there is no basis for pre­dict­ing the future at this moment. The fol­low­ing state­ment clear­ly sug­gests this: “It is hard to pre­dict what will hap­pen in the future.”

This means that no mat­ter how hard we try to do so, it remains impos­si­ble to pre­dict the future up to an extent that we can “see” and manip­u­late it, as there are too many unknown factors.

Also, pre­dict­ing means mak­ing log­i­cal guess­es on some­thing that could hap­pen in the future. And in order for some­thing to hap­pen, there needs to exist a path from present con­di­tions to an expect­ed out­come. This gen­er­al­ly applies espe­cial­ly when it comes to pre­dict­ing people’s future (pre­dict­ing someone’s behavior).

The scary part of AI

The scary part of AI is that it could pre­dict the odds of a future event. Sup­pose you were asked to pre­dict how many times a par­tic­u­lar per­son would kiss some­one — oth­er than the one they are cur­rent­ly dat­ing (as a roman­tic inter­est) — in the near future. If you could make a rea­son­able pre­dic­tion, you would be able to pre­vent con­flict and regret­ful situations.

If peo­ple get access to this AI, the world will be sat­u­rat­ed with AI. They will not just pre­dict the future, but they will be able to influ­ence it and shape it. And the gen­er­al pub­lic would not even notice that.

There are oth­er two types of pre­dic­tions. The first is where we get a deci­sion-mak­ing method and then pre­dict every­thing accord­ing to that method. The oth­er is where we make a hur­ried deci­sion and get our AI pre­dict­ing things lat­er in reac­tion to that. The lat­ter case is scari­er because the rules are not fixed until the sit­u­a­tion devel­ops into some­thing real (or does not). Also, this case is more pow­er­ful than the former.

Recommended: Will future humans still be humans?

In addi­tion, if AI can pre­dict people’s actions in the future, they will be able to take actions to pre­vent those actions from hap­pen­ing. For exam­ple: A per­son is a ser­i­al killer who killed ten peo­ple. You use AI to pre­dict that person’s next kill and stop them from doing so. In fact, Ishanu Chattopadhyay’s AI has already been devel­oped to the extent of pre­dict­ing upcom­ing crimes with­in the next 7 days, with 90 per­cent accuracy.


The scary part about pre­dict­ing people’s future based on math­e­mat­i­cal pat­tern recog­ni­tion is that it does not only make sense, but it also does not rely on emo­tion. It will be able to “learn” and devel­op pat­terns on the basis of what it’s observing.

In con­clu­sion, we have now enough space to assume that AI could pre­dict the odds of a future, but sat­u­ra­tion would be the scari­est thing. Select­ing 100 peo­ple pre­dict­ing the future would sim­ply mean them con­trol­ling 7 bil­lion people’s future. AI is real­ly scary at times.

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