The Concept of Uncertainty

‘The Concept of Uncertainty’ written by Henry Gibson

 

What does the future hold for our world and the people that reside in it? Are we headed for a final equilibrium or are we here to just simply exist? Will we remain in a state of stability or will history manage to repeat itself? What are the meaning of these questions? Well, at least one of these questions can be answered: they are all based on the concept of uncertainty. As humans, uncertainty is programmed from within, whether we are conscious of it or not. Of course we experience uncertainty in everyday life such as “Will my train be on time?” or “I wonder what my mother will cook for dinner today?” but this discussion focuses on the wider perspective. Bonatti states ‘while uncertainty is perceived and witnessed by people in everyday life, it also possesses a “realness” which supersedes the individual consciousness, for it originates from theoretical contexts and socio-economic relationships which actually play a major role in contemporary science and society.’ People’s uncertainty varies depending on their perception of life, factors like religious belief and geographical location will affect their stance on the matter.

 

Being a mega trend means that uncertainty contains a very lengthy and also unsteady life cycle. During times such as a recession or state of war, the level of uncertainty may be heightened, but only temporarily. The “trendsetters” of uncertainty could be considered as the government, media and the internet. These trendsetters inform us and spread the message about uncertainty which creates fear etc. amongst people, this could also be considered as the ‘turning point’ during this trend’s life cycle. The originators of this mega trend would in fact be us as human beings (or our ancestors), since uncertainty derives from our emotions and feelings. It is difficult to determine the life cycle of this trend as it is extremely unpredictable.

 

As the human race advances at a rapid rate, new things constantly become possible for us. Science has proved all kinds of breakthrough, development and discovery. But is this necessarily a good thing? Although science is magnificent, it also creates uncertainty. People who follow a religion may feel threatened by the movement of science. This controversial trend has been increasing as a result of the concept of uncertainty. People are more eager than ever to find the answers they are seeking for.

 

It could be argued that globalisation removed a huge proportion of uncertainty from people’s live worldwide. Thanks to sources such as the internet we can find out almost anything in a matter of seconds. In the past people were unsure and afraid of what was beyond their reach but nowadays people have a better grasp of our position in the world. Today’s technology is what people could only of dreamed of years ago, now it is a reality. However as particular uncertainties die out, new ones start to emerge. For example, in the past, ‘robots’ were completely unknown, but nowadays there is already wide debate about artificial intelligence being responsible for the extinction of humans.

So, in terms of the perception of life, will the existence of uncertainty always endure or will everything become clear for us one day?

 

Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. Penguin, 29 Sep 2011 .
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3 thoughts on “The Concept of Uncertainty

  1. Maela Verschuren – 21-09-2016

    Hi Henry,

    Interesting article! You really made me think about uncertainty when I finished reading your blogpost.

    So, to answer your question: ‘Will the existence of uncertainty always endure or will everything become clear for us one day?’ I think that the existence of uncertainty will always continue. Every trend can change and there’s always something (new) happening in the world. Like you said, people have always these questions in mind and we want to have them answered. As an example, when you’re feeling ill you can search for the symptoms online and you will find definitely a disease you’ve never heard of. And that can make you scared or leaving you in uncertainty.

    Uncertainty always keeps people busy, especially with the making of future scenario’s. It plays a big part by predicting the future. Certainties and uncertainties are not always take place in the future but also in the present and past. The uncertainties in the present can give us as occasion to think in different futures. Uncertainties from the past can be easily reduced because we already know the answer to that. (Van Rijn & Van der Burgt, n.d.)

    So, I don’t think everything will be clear for us in the future. There will always be questions and new uncertainties by the change of trends. But I do think that science and knowledge will ensure that we can get faster answers and clearness to our questions and uncertainties in the future. What do you think that will happen with our uncertainties in the future?

    Van Rijn, M., & Van der Burgt, R. (n.d.). Gebeurtenissen in een onzekere wereld [E-book]. Retrieved from http://www.ivto.org/publicaties/hoofdstuk-1-gebeurtenissen-in-een-onzekere-wereld-handboek-scenarioplanning

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  2. Humans are created with the possibility and strength to keep adapting to their surroundings (Brighthub, 2011). Therefore there will always be a desire and curiosity to keep developing things and society further. And as long as that goes on, I think uncertainity will excist.

    If we use the megatrend of technology as an example, there will always be a force to create new products and services. Even if scientists have their guesses, there is no way we can know for certain how humans will live their lives in future. What technology will be used? Will humanity have found a way to leave this planet? How long will a life be? How will we transport ourselves from one place to another? What will happen with the internet? Will it still be outside of our body or maybe on our inside? These are only a few questions that brings us uncertainity. In the same way that a person from the early 20th century never would believe that almost every person today carries such a great thing as internet in their pocket, we will be amazed with what will be discovered and used in our future to come. And so the uncertainity continues. Because we will always wonder; how far can it/ we go? We will never know exactly what our possibilities might be in future and which challenges they might bring.

    Furthermore, something that is certain for one person could be the opposite for someone else.
    Within religion for example. A person who has a strong belief could be certain about what happens after we die. But at the same time the uncertainaty about a continuing life after we die, is in general strong amongst us. Maybe that is the answer, that uncertainity will dissolve first when we die..?

    Reference list:

    Brighthub (2011). Staying Alive, Adapting to Extremes. Retrieved 2016-09-22, from
    http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/123717.aspx

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  3. I liked the questions you brought up in your article! Personally I’m sure of the fact that uncertainty will always endure within the existence of human life. Not only because I think we’ll never fully be able to predict our future, but also because some of the uncertainties we have about our world’s past, simply cannot be answered anymore. For example, uncertainties we have about human life in the past, can’t be researched anymore because the traces we would need have been wiped out by nature’s force. So I think we’ll always be left with uncertainties about our past without a chance of finding out all the details, simply because these details don’t exist anymore.

    I agree on the comment you made about today’s technology bringing new uncertainties. We worry increasingly about things that would have never concerned our parents at our age.
    (J, Stuart.) For instance the privacy that we have left with so much technology around us. We’re uncertain about who is tracing what, and what that means for us.
    But you also said that it could be argued that globalisation and digitalisation removed a huge proportion of uncertainty. But I’m not completely sure about that statement, because now that we have so much more (online) information available, we’ll have to put much more effort in finding out which information is actually correct. Now that everyone is able to put their own perception of the truth online, we’re left with so much more uncertainty about which perception is the actual truth.

    To answer your question about if it’s necessarily a good thing that we keep on having breakthroughs, developing and discovering new things, I think it is. I think we are meant to be curious about everything around us. It keeps us wondering about our world and makes us the innovative species that we are. Image how dull our lives would be if we would already know everything!

    Stuart, J. ( 2016) Welcome to the new age of uncertainty. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/26/new-age-of-uncertainty-brexit-trump-future-world-flux

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