Magazine: László Mérő: ‘There are more valuables in the junkyard of the rich man than in the house of the poor man’

By: Gyarmati Orsolya Date: 2022. 02. 09. 06:40

Trade magazin’s Business Podcast, Future Talks with Szilvia Krizsó continues

In the latest episode of the Future Talks podcast Szilvia Krizsó’s guest was mathematician and psychologist László Mérő. This article features parts of the conversation, but you can find the whole interview at

– This podcast seeks to research the future. Once you wrote that ‘What characterises a very smart person isn’t that they can forecast the future well, but that they can see clearly that the future is impossible to predict, still they can adapt to it in advance.’ You must be very smart, as you seem capable of adapting to any situation…

– I am just living my life. I don’t know in advance what is going to happen. The sentence you quoted from me only refers to situations when the world is starting to become extreme, but then things go back to normal.

– The world is going in a direction where people are told they will only be successful if they set a goal and specify which steps need to be taken to achieve it. Everyone must make plans.

– A plan is something very different for Americans than for Germans. Plans aren’t meant to be implemented, but to make us consider how things can be done in a certain way. Every business plan is a bluff, but it must be a professional bluff.

– With business decisions a company’s goal is to reach masses if they want to be profitable…

– If 1 percent of people are interested enough to purchase a product, than the company already has 70 million buyers!

– Is there anything that you liked to do passionately?

– There was one field in mathematics, there was another in artificial intelligence (AI), also in psychology and in games as well. I am really interested in certain aspects of games, while I can’t be bothered about others.

– What do you look for in a game?

– I like almost every kind of game: I like shooting just as much as playing chess or Scrabble. Other people focus on different things in the world and let other things go than I do.

– Is it easy for you to let things go?

– No, it isn’t. I don’t think one can let those things go easily that are important for them. You must always pay a price in these cases.

– You say that luck is an element of success. Many people tend to think that luck can’t be a success factor.

– There is one thing I can’t teach: how to be in the right place at the right time. This is pure luck. What I can teach is what one should or shouldn’t do in situations like this.

– You defended your dissertation in 1979 and the topic was artificial intelligence. The world has changed a great deal since then and so many things are connected to the future of AI these days.

– This is true, in spite of the fact that there are very few things that we didn’t know back then but we know now. There was one thing we didn’t know, though: how a given algorithm would work on a computer that is one million times faster.

László Mérő: „The future is unpredictable”

– Based on what you have said I feel a bit reassured that my present knowledge and skills will be enough to get by in 10-20 years’ time and I will be able to adapt.

– The more kinds of things we learn, the better off we are! Each type of knowledge has its traditions. Let’s not forget that there are more valuables in the junkyard of the rich man than in the house of the poor man.

– Once you wrote: ‘What should those people do who don’t have big dreams? The first answer that comes to mind is that they should find one and make it come true. However, this answer is the safest way to make a lot of people unhappy, people who weren’t born to be unhappy.’ Do dreams move the world forward?

– I have never had a big dream or when I have had one, I always met people who were more talented than me. Most of us aren’t the best in any area, so we must find a combination in which we are good at.

– Is this the secret behind your happiness?

– I do envy those who have a big dream, but I didn’t have to cope with the fact that I won’t win the Nobel Prize, because it was never my goal. //

The above article has also been published in Issue 2021/12-01 of Trade magazin.

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