Here is a narrative about the Internet that is getting more and more common: It certainly seems that the Internet is now the realm of a small number of enterprises that dominate this space. This is no longer a diverse, vibrant environment where new entrants compete on equal terms with incumbents, where the pace of innovation and change is relentless, and users benefit from having … Continue reading Measures and causes of centralization of the Internet
The concept of deep uncertainty is intriguing and important – as defined it is: Deep uncertainty exists when parties to a decision do not know, or cannot agree on, the system model that relates action to consequences, the probability distributions to place over the inputs to these models, which consequences to consider and their relative importance. Deep uncertainty often involves decisions that are made over … Continue reading Deep uncertainty(Mental models XV)
A recent study in PNAS suggests that we can at least start thinking about that through inversion – the study of what intolerance is. By looking at the areas of the brain that activate during polarized responses etc a group of researchers are now arguing that intolerance is strongly correlated with a need for certainty. If polarization is the response to uncertainty in our society, … Continue reading Intolerance and polarization as survival strategies
I am now ditching the invite only mode for the newsletter. I feel confident that I have a form for it that I like, and so I would appreciate more readers and think I will learn more from a broader readership. I have now written 20 issues of the letter and I think the form is slowly evolving to where I want it to be, … Continue reading The Newsletter “Unpredictable Patterns”
It turns out that there is no such things as trees or crabs. Yet, a lot of things end up in crab-shapes or tree-shapes. What is happening here? This is a question that is related to the work on physics and evolution put forward by people like Geoffrey West, especially in his book Scale; evolution ultimately unfolds under certain basic conditions and these conditions then … Continue reading Phylogenetic echoes of physics?
A culture is guided by its concept of happiness, and how that is located in the overall grammar of human existence – and our society is one that is focused on living a happy life. A result of that is that we often ask ourselves if we are happy – whether consciously or not. We compare our level of happiness with others, and then translate … Continue reading The grammar of happiness: a turn towards everyday life?
This nice book waited in my mail as I came home from the mountains: I had the privilege to write a chapter in it about how utopias have evolved, and devolved, over the last couple of decades. To my unbridled joy my contribution also contains a reprint of Lubberland! Continue reading Written: a chapter on utopias and their devolution
Almost everyone has heard about the notion of “six degrees of separation” – that there are six jumps between any two persons in, say, the US. The experiment or game actually originates in a short story by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, The Chain, where the object of the game was to connect two random individuals. It was then popularized by experiments where social scientist Stanley … Continue reading What is the optimal degree of separation in a society?
Economist Thomas Schelling made an important observation in his Nobel prize talk in 2005 when he said: “The most spectacular event of the past half century is one that did not occur.We have enjoyed sixty years without nuclear weapons exploded in anger.” Thomas Schelling Nobel Prize Talk. This observation is no less true today, but we can add a worrying conjecture to the observation – … Continue reading Deterrence and memory – is it dangerous to forget nuclear weapons?
One key problem for the church in medieval times was to explain why raising the dead, defying the elements and conjuring things was not magic. The challenge here was that Jesus did all of those things, and if they were interpreted as magic, then Jesus would be a wizard or sorcerer, not the son of God. So – being human, and hence really brilliant about … Continue reading Magic and miracles (Mental Models XIV)