Friday, October 5, 2012

Avoiding oops

Not often, lately, have I posted twice (see Potemkin ...) in one day, but this is just too rich to ignore. While watching a talk given at IJCAI-2011 (Barcelona) in the context of computing (which, we know, is one manifestation of our ability to master the world), the following slide (in the talk, Homo heuristics) is the focus of the discussion.

The question relates to methods, and the power of heuristics. We'll have to discuss this further, but, for now, let's just look at what the slide tells us. In the world populated by those who seem to be advancing the state of the art (for all of us, yet we keep getting ourselves deeper into a hole, it seems), work such as this (Mean-variance model) receive the highest award (hint, yearly, big deal in Sweden).

Yet, when one of the main characters involved with the work invests his own money, he uses the heuristic shown in the slide. The guy's identity is cut out, as he is not the focus. What we ought to be concerned about is a worldview that races after abstract nonsense, that applies supposed knowledge gained from such thinking, and that doesn't restrict losses, or pains, to just those doing the playing.

No, we all are pulled into the quagmire.

The main question is how did this come about. As I've said many times, interloped mathematics and misunderstood computational modeling are the biggest factors related to the messes of today. Of course, that people with excessive greed have their fingers in the pie is a factor, to boot. We don't really want to go into that litany.


In brief, are we all not after a sustainable world that allows the fullest expression of the human element's potential (however you might want to express this)?

Yet, have we not let technology, and its sciences, run amok somewhat giving up control (albeit, a lot of this may have been subconsciously done)?


11/09/2012 -- Engineering memes. Nice.

10/05/2012 -- Note the discussion about 28:33 which show that 500 years of data would be necessary for the prize-winning approach to beat the simple heuristic. As the speaker says, 500 years too early for the bank to use.

Modified: 11/09/2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Potemkin and more

On this day (and, perhaps, at other times, to boot), we'll always pause to think of Steve's contributions.

Discussions about 'reality distortion' are interesting. Many have charisma, of various types. Salesmen, in general, wouldn't be successful without something of this type of nature. Managers can motivate this way; is it better than using the stick?

We'll have to look at this further since Mr. Jobs was such a good example, given those with whom he worked, their particular domain of interest, and what has unfolded over the decades. You know, issues of computability are still open-ended, in many senses.


But, that's all for another day. Let's just reflect on potemkin type of things. The term was mentioned here as being used within a context related to wishes. That is, there was an enormous thrust, evidently, sustained by belief in modern systems (ah yes, we know how the finance people a mere four years ago, or so, were claiming to have conquered risk? Do you then recall what happened?).

People get into their heads that their rose-colored (whatever other color might be used) glasses do not have an effect on their perception, thereby influencing their cognition. Heck, they don't even know they have glasses on. But, hey, even the brilliants (yes, yes) have the same problem. We'll touch upon that theme quite a bit.

So, however these mis-perceptions are characterized, or emerge, and more, we can usually see the thing ex post facto. But, not always, since the effect is very strong. Certain worldviews seem to continue despite seeming lack of evidence (left purposely vague, think of it as a Rorschach test for yourself), and these have been around for oodles and eons of time. Yet, they do have some usefulness (if we can only get these things to settle into some type of peaceful - peace-able - mode).


Now, having said all that, reality distortion and potemkin'ism are two peas in a pod (not the only ones, mind you). Unfortunately, we're seeing this up-close during the muck-raking season (yet, are we learning anything therefrom?).

We could change context a little and talk about the issues related to determining value. We would also look at expectations' influence on outcome and measuring such. Going back to Steve, he noted that there were hard problems being worked by all sorts of people. How the interchange methods, and understanding of such, have emerged over the decades was not foreseen.


One main problem, folks? Too much effort at trying to pin down the future. Yes, there are a multitude of things to discuss here. In effect, though, look at nature. If you're following Darwin, are you going to propose that evolution is doing a design of experiments expansion? Well, there may be loose analogs, but, in actuality, we see myriads of proposed changes being filtered through some type of mechanism (we can use the notion of the most fit surviving - as, it can be modeled fairly well). And, please, be aware that those things being filtered are ex post facto realizations, not mere thoughtful entities.

Yes, territory-map problems can be one way to think of this. It is not TRUE, in any case, that foreknowledge (say, via computational modeling, visualization) is the same as the phenomenal existence (redundancy noted). Now, mental (loose sense) states can overlap that which is real. But, they are not the same (unless, ..., in certain events, we may have congruence of more than space-time, yet, science has steered from even considering such, except indirectly).


01/17/2013 -- Grounding due to fire.

11/09/2012 -- Engineering memes. Nice.

Modified: 11/09/2013

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Entitlement (Message to Google)

Entitlement? Yes, many senses are around and about, especially during the election season. Here's one: drivers have some notion of entitlement when they're wrapped in the comfort and safety of their wheel'd machine.

In essence, road rage comes from someone outside of the vehicle breaking into the illusion of entitlement. I used to think that it was mere laziness; how much effort does it take to see a pedestrian or to move the foot a few inches to the left and apply the brakes? Infinitely much, according to some observations. Yet, if there is the entitlement sense, it may very well be some unbounded energy providing huge inertia.


Aside (see Zen, below): this post could have been titled "Message to Google" (but wasn't). You see, I'm going to celebrate the computer-driven car and offer Google some advice (yes, this from an old hacker with insights that may be way beyond what they might have considered -- let's put it this way, I've not seen evidence of wisdom on their parts -- how long did it take to lose the "don't cause harm" (however it was said, written) rule due to the fact that bucks started to become abundantly present?).


So, let's start with Zen of Computing as the framework and branch from there. A few little pointers can be the inception point.
  • -- Please, Google, train your thing to respect the rights of pedestrians. We'll go into this at large (today, two close calls due to my encountering entitled idiots - yes, we know, idiots can drive). Google claiming their 300K+ hours of accident free driving means not much without some tests (next bullet) that we can use for graduated assessment (as in progressive). 
  • -- Know, too, that having autonomous objects communication is a nice idea (birds within a flock are a wonderful example), but the mode of communication must not be constrained to known (as in, defined by our monkeying with the spectrum) levels (protocols, if you would, based upon e-m at large). Too, we need your thing able to handle visible objects whose behavior may very well be in realms outside of your limits (and not talking, by necessity, black swans).  
  • -- Turing-test analog. Yes! There are several things that we could propose. Right now, we could think of a race, perhaps, NASCAR like or similar. It would be controlled, as in, rules defined and followed (no bumper cars - though some like to allow this). For mayhem, perhaps we could use the demolition derby type of thing. In short, there are issues to consider (hint: see the note on the blogs menu about computability).

'entitlement' may be mis-used, as there is nothing in the laws that would suggest such. We know that driving is a privilege  not a right. One needs to know the laws, pass a test, and keep on the right side of the law. So, why does this sense (seemingly close to feeling entitled - at least, that appears to be the case from observing the behavior) emerge? Is it a type of mania?

Do we not see the same thing with phones? In the early days of the mobile thing, people were not so apt (or so rude) to just talk in public as if they were ranting in a public park while standing on a soapbox talking some nonsense (any large city has this daily). In fact, most adults, at the time, turned to the voice in order to relate (respond); then, they found some vacuous face, eyes staring into the distance, of a person involved with something (someone) in another space-time locale, far removed from the present.   

Ah, back to Zen, does the present pertain to the moment or the location? You see, we all can multitask, in many cases bridging far-flung spaces in a manner unique to humans. In fact, we have done this for a very long time; those, who were more adept, made the most use of the faculty. For many, the whole thing was too ephemeral. Yet, the existence of connected servers spread across the globe which are interlinked offers an analog for that which was there before.


Aside: many times, we have seen better devices approach some type of threshold (close enough) so as to become the new reality. The energy behind the older phenomenon dissipates. Is that progress? Well, that is for us to discuss. From one view, the progress in commonly grasped mathematics is one overlaying (not overarching) blanket damping out all sorts of talents (which are very much needed -- hence, again, innumeracy is not idiocy -- no, no, no -- we'll make that clear --- the flip side, though, is true - numeracy can approach idiocy (mis-use, exploitation, and much more); we'll have to go into that as an aspect of near zero).


10/02/2012 --

Modified: 10/02/2012