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The rise of the futurists: The perils of predicting with futurethink

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Policymakers, facing increasingly uncertain contemporary and future security and technology environments, are engaging in futurethink—using fictional scenarios to make predictions about the results of introducing artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies into these environments. Futurists engage in this process by providing scenarios to ameliorate uncertainty, drawing on a suite of tools that include simulations, worst-case planning, war-gaming, and even science fiction narratives.

A common futurethink tactic is to switch from risk-based probabilistic thinking, which is vulnerable to various decision-making pathologies, to possibilistic thinking—creatively generating scenarios outside of expected outcomes with a focus on impacts rather than probabilities. This move avoids some pathologies but is still subject to many biases and must be implemented judiciously.

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