I came across a billboard with this statement last week. It’s part of a marketing campaign for one of the short term insurers.
When I read it, my first thought was that this is probably one of the silliest statements I’ve seen in a while, but after thinking about it, I realised that someone who doesn’t look at life through a complexity lense may think that it’s rather clever.
So why do I have a problem with it? Well, first off, I’m not sure you can ever really have foresight. Certainly not when dealing with the type of complexities that insurers would typically deal with. I’m sure there are many predictions that can be made by actuaries and the like based on complex statistics that I’d rather not want to think about, but even those are vulnerable to the inherent unpredictability of complex systems.
Also, these “foresights” are usually based on “hindsight” – e.g. records of 100 year floods etc are used in risk determination and forecasting. Bottom line, there is no way to separate foresight from hindsight, and of the two, I think I would rather have a good grasp on the latter. I’ve found that truely understanding the history of a complex system as well as the current state is essential when attempting to predict possible future scenarios.