Posted on: 03/09/2013

Exploring the future with models

Planning for our future can be a heated topic, as the many people affected may have competing or conflicting objectives. The tension, frustration and bewilderment that can accompany such an exercise can be alleviated if discussions are based around models. We are a"hands on"species and being able to directly interact with models often elicits options and opinions that are missed if only talking "in theory" or "in principle". When you hear the word model what is the first image you get? While scientists have an understanding of what is meant by a model,in reality models of many forms are already embedded in day-to-day living. Al humans navigate through life using models � consciously or unconsciously. These may be intuitive mental models,or they may be more formal models,such as those embedded in government decision making. All models are simplified versions of reality that we use as learning tools when reality is too difficult to handle. Useful models reproduce the key aspects of the world we are interested in so we can ignore complicating factors without being led catastrophically astray.