Coping: A Few Notes on Futuring

Time for a thought problem:  I’ve been ponder the nature of predictive systems a good bit lately because it occurs to me that if indeed, as some have claimed, only a very few (and maybe only one) can use a predictive system at a time, then much of modern economics should have fallen by now.


I’ll give you an example:  Suppose I were to present you this morning with a system of predicting market performance based on predicting future events…and further suppose that I had run some tests and it seemed to work.


Being an enterprising fellow,  one might package up this way of looking at how a particular stock price could/should evolve and take it to market.


The question is:  Is there a point where the very act of prediction lessens the value of a predictive system?  (Hint: the answer is yes.)


I mention this because in my pursuit of perfect trading algorithms, I’ve looked innumerable ways to predict the future.


Historically many trading systems have shown keen insight into “the future” such as Elliott Wave analysis, or momentum trading, and the algorithms that keep making money by front-running trading by a millisecond or two in high frequency trading systems


Let’s define this as our “universe” for our thought-work this morning.


Let’s suppose that a new party arrives on scene and introduces a new way of trading.  We’ll call this system “Challenger” and its working are kept totally secret with the developer never revealing specific code, never sharing so much as a single screenshot, and holding tightly to the specifics of how this system works beyond flowery descriptions.


Where there is only one user of such a new trading system, it may appear to work for a some period of time.  However, if the system works well enough, it will over time average down its results because more and more people will adopt it and begin trading accordingly.


Carefully note that the introduction of this new system does not end the existence of the other systems….it merely changes their behavior  slightly in the short-term. 


As more people adopt “Challenger” the results of other systems may even rise as followers leave them: the future is disinclined to change the total number of “winners.”


Statistically, among all predictive trading approaches, there seems to be a bounded number of winners.  Only the distribution among systems changes.  new systems may win early, but as traders adopt the most successful models they can find, their results suffer because of the “bounded winners” limit implicit in markets.


Let’s take this a step further:  Soppose the creator of such a  “new system” claims it is the only true trading system.  Can such a claim be valid? 


Especially because of a) the “bounded winners” limit and the pre-existence of other trading systems and b) the other pre-existing tecniques?


Obviously, multiple approaches may be used to predict the future and based on their successes, they rise or fall over time on their own merit.


In his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Taleb begins with a discussion of this sort of duality as he points our air may feed fire, or too much air – wind (for a candle) actually ends fire. 


What he doesn’t get into the underlying principle of air.  It’s the underlying variable, however.


In the analysis of trading systems, it becomes apparent (after some work) that the future does indeed seem to have a boundary to it:  Although, it’s more obvious in dealing with stock market predictions than perhaps a more generalized study of future, perhaps, but a bounded future nevertheless.  It suggests the future generally has these bounds.


If a new system’s results begin strong, but declaine in accuracy over time, traders will abandon it as the investor’s constant quest to optimize returns drives exploration.


That a system of divining future events claims exclusivity when dealing with something as widespread as “the future” is absurd.  As they say in Las Vegas “everyone’s got a system.”

There is not a class of investors who stand head and shoulders above all called “Remote Viewers” at least which I’ve found yet.  This hints to  me that remote viewing may have limited application to investments.


Yet, can you think of any more demanding metric than returns?


Thus, the test of any future prediction system is the accuracy of the numbers it delivers.


Whatshould the sincere researcher do when faced with a future predicting system that steadfastly refuses to make tradable predictions? 


One wonders which of three reasons exist:  Sincere moral objection?  Inability to be specific?  Or, that numeric results and standard deviations really matter?

Lots is being written about “future seeing” and this morning’s post by Statibartfast over at Sidewalk Catharsis is closely related.


Let me be very clear on something here:


Since our Nostracodeus software has not been sold, is not yet for sale, is not deployed, etc., any failing of other predictive systems is self-arising and not related to Nostracodeus research.  Any assertion otherwise is crap.  


There is no blaming Nostracodeus for any “effect.”   It was NOT out there and IS not out there.


In fact, Nostracodeus continues in pre-release hold.


On Wednesday, we’ll discuss further implications of the emerging Big Data paradigm world for subscribers to


Site Redesign

Thanks for all the comments on the site redesign – and yes, I am planning to put the gold and dollar charts into the Word Press version of the site when I do “the Big Rollover.”


The way this looks now (always subject to change) is I should be ready to “roll the site” next weekend, so next Sunday morning is my target.


The main page of UrbanSurvival will live at the address and all the archives, except for the most recent couple of weeks will be moved over to the subscriber site.


Around the Ranch:  Observing Animals

We had one of those abject lessons in prepping this weekend.  This will be of particular interest if you’re a prepper or gardener:  The local deer tribe figured out how to hope the fence and get into the garden.


As a result, our tomato plants, squash, and chard were pretty well done in.


Which brings me to an interesting thought about mankind’s evolution:  Is it possible that humans were headed down a road toward being vegetarians when animals showed up and ate their crops?  Would killing animals (in olden times) have been a form of “pest control”? 


An interesting thought, for sure. 


Regardless, as soon as it stops raining, I will be going up to the garden fence and welding up an add-on to the top of the  gate so the deer won’t be able to leap it – another 18″ ought to do it.


A serious lesson for preppers here:  If you do happen to confront the end of the world head-on, keep an eye out for the four-legged competition.

Our other Animal Planet episode was a lot less serious. 


You might remember a couple of years back I bought Elaine a Roomba floor cleaning robot (similar to the iRobot Roomba 630 Vacuum Cleaning Robot for Pets).


She’d used it for a while but then put it away….this was before Zeus the Cat showed up here.


T’other day, she came across the ‘bot and asked me to get a new battery for it (the batteries are catching up to the products nowadays) so we installed it and charged it up again.


When we ran it, it happened that Zeus was in the house.  I don’t think we’ve ever laughed so hard.


Seems cat’s (Zeus, anyway) can deal with mechanical things that operate in predictable ways.  B ut the Roomba?


He got down in his best imitation jaguar, belly slinking on the ground, and spent the better part of 15-minutes sizing it up.  He’d sneak up on it as it was about to hit a wall or a piece of furniture.  And just as he was getting brave the robot would change directions with Zeus jumping 6″ into the air while hightailing it to another room to reconsider.


Cats are interesting critters to watch, too.  Even when the Roomba is back in its charger, he gives it a wide berth now, eyes big as saucers.


Why tell you all this?  There’s a million dollar idea in there:  Robotic cat-stalking toy.



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George Ure (george at ure dot net)


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The “Grim Oiler”

With our detailed synthesis of the future from Capt. Midnight wrapped up this week, is it time to reconsider the lost spectre of Peak Oil?  More important: Can we make (or save) a buck by timing our actions in response?

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