The power of mathematics is well known to all, specially those who are involved in the business of using it on a daily bases. To sift out and illuminate phenomena that may seem unconnected, to be able to describe patterns in a quantifiable manner, there is no better language than mathematics. The idea of applying mathematics to history has been around for some time and though not so well advertised, it is fascinating to ask what patterns would we be able to find out by describing the rise and fall of civilization by mathematics, predicted by mathematics… what future is inevitable and can it be avoided?
More interestingly, is the rise and fall of society a defined time frame? what factors can we use to model this. It almost seems like Hari Seldon and his psychohistory*. What significance do anomalies (i.e. individuals, or outlying groups) play in this equation. Though the speaker in TED is concerned with analyzing statistics, the proposition of introducing mathematics into the study of history should be taken seriously!
Imagine if we can model, in a simple scenario the rise and fall of civilizations, we may be able to pin point the key factor(s), which may be contrary to our current understanding or missed due to lack of information.
*This one only the Sci-Fi geeks will get :)