Updated Quote

2023-07-22 Off By Tim

Original quote:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Albert Einstein, October 26th, 1929

My updated version:

Counterfactuals are more important than data. Data is limited. Counterfactuals encircle the world.

Data can only show you what was, what actually happened, a single thread through time. Counterfactuals can generate an infinite number of alternative threads.

Imagination and counterfactuals share the same promise and problem. The promise is “one item of infinite value”. The problem is “billions of items of no value”. This is why brainstorming sessions usually generate hundreds of ideas, but exactly zero next steps. “Build a time machine” is very imaginative, but completely impractical. The sentiment is very correct, but turning it into something practical is very hard.

In my understanding, my modified quotation is just an offshoot of the “Model War” aka “Causuality War”, that has been going on since the 1920s.