Butterfly effect and tech

Can a butterfly flapping wings in Australia cause a tornado in Florida?
Yes. Or no. We can’t say it with certainty, but it could happen.

You probably have heard this question already, it’s known as the “Butterfly Effect” and, in chaos theory, it represents the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change can result in large differences in a later state.
The term was coined by Edward Lorenz who discovered the effect while running studies on his weather model: he ran the same experiment twice, in one of the two attempts the data was rounded(at the 6th digit after the comma) while in the other one it was not. In a system of 12 equations you would expect that such a small change has no influence on the final result: that was not the case. A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.

For sure this is something we can prove in any mathematical systems, but does it affect out everyday life as well?

In 1907 Thomas W. Lawson wrote “Friday the thirteenth”,  the U.S. economy loses about 900USD million on that day, that’s because people are scared to go on vacation, to work, do shopping or any other activity, a large amount of people just stay home scared of doing anything. The stock market shows average gains of just 0.2% or less on that day.
It was supposed to be nothing else but a novel, right? Turned out to be something way bigger than that.

The butterfly effects is widespread among IT and tech as well. We have had a lot of wrong predictions, which could have been true, but then a butterfly came and suddenly they became all irrelevant.
In  1943 Thomas Watson, president of IBM, said “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Do I have to add anything here? I don’t think so.

Other than Watson, we had many other wrong predictions, so… does it really make sense to forecast for the tech future and/or even make plans?

I have my own idea on this, it is obviously content delivery and web performance related.
Just to spill some beans: I don’t 100% believe in this new Edge Computing technology, it is probably going to happen, but it won’t be as big as the cloud revolution. And no, no-body needs a more distributed architecture.
I will talk more in detail about this in the upcoming LDNWebPerf in London on the 7th of March 2018.


A few interesting sources:


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