Imagine I want to write a fictional book, whose purpose is to show what will happen to the world, if something changes.
For example: How will we live, if...
- crowdsourced funding (microfinance in M. Yunus style) is widely adopted?
- cheap robots replace low-paid workers (cleaning jobs, waiters etc.) ?
- final consumers of news (instead of news corporations) pay journalists to deliver information on topics, which interest them (X thousand people each pay 20 bucks to send a neutral journalist to Crimea to show and tell those paying people what is actually happening there) ?
Most of such innovations affect different aspects of life.
To write an interesting book, I have to take the current world, change one variable in it and see what happens to different aspects of life.
Note that I'm primarily interested in modelling near-future worlds, i. e. our current world with only one innovation added (I do not want to invent a completely new world).
What tools (except FCM, see below) can I use to make such "what-if" analyses?
Fuzzy cognitive maps
Fuzzy cognitive maps work in this way:
- You define a set of variables, e. g. probability of war in region A, influence of country B in region, influence of country C in region A, degree of rivalry between countries B and C, economic growth in region A.
- Then you define how the variables affect each other. For example, degree of rivalry between countries B and C may increase probability of war in region A, while economic growth in region A decreases it. Basically, you put a plus (A increases B) or minus (A decreases B) sign on every connection between variables. A connection means that one variable affects the other.
- Then you quantify the effects of one variable (formalize your opinion on that effect). For example, degree of rivalry between countries B and C increases probability of war in region A by one unit and economic growth in region A decreases it by 10 units.
- Once you've setup such graph, you can use some mathematical apparatus to set values of the variables and look at what happens to other variables. In that way you can model different scenarios.
Update 1: Another useful tool may be some of the system dynamics software.