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Peter Xu

Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

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How does one predict the date when an entire nation would fall?

Ray Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist. He has been known for his highly accurate predictions such as when computers would be able to beat the best human chess players (Deep Blue IBM). His current primary prediction is the time of the coming singularity, the point where man and machine merge. But what has puzzled me was how he was able to predict something like the fall of the Soviet Union? If one is to predict the time when this would happen to a certain accuracy, there must be some mathematical analysis involved. What factors would one consider in determining when the Soviet Union would fall, and how would one put that into a mathematical model that would estimate the date of this event?

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  • Mar 6 2012: Difficult to say. You could look at the debt to earnings ratio or even decline in GDP. But then how would you factor in the possibility that the government, and its controlling bodies, could simply print more money or raise the debt ceiling as happened in 2011.

    For a nation on the verge of economic collapse there is always someone willing to offer a bail out or buy up some of the debt. Remeber the difference between a country and a company is that a country does not have the option to declare themselved bankrupt.

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