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)
A simple model to think through (for flaws as well as merits): industrialization was a process with efficiency as the core competitive dimension, informatization is a process with learning as the core competitive dimension — in a coarse grained model this would almost correspond to the different dimensions in evolution; the first adaptation to the environment (efficiency) and the second adaptation to other adaptive systems … Continue reading Red queen evolution and industrialization / informatization
In Ernst Mayr’s essay ”What is Darwinism”, there is a section on multiplication of species, in which Mayr notes that there still is a lot that we do not understand about speciation and how it occurs. This is interesting for a number of different reasons, but one small thing stood out to me in the essay – and that was that Mayr suggests that there … Continue reading Speciation and diversity
It is probably correct to say that there has never been as much pressure to reform the US Supreme Court as right now. President Biden has proposed a commission to report in 6 months on court reform, and today a number of democrats presented a bill that would lead to expanding the number of justices to 13. This, in itself, is interesting – the Court … Continue reading The US Supreme Court, ENA and institutional reform
So, kids, when artists of old released what we called singles – individual hits – they would release a record, and that record would have the hit on one side – called the A-side, but then they would be left with the problem of what to put on the other side of the record. That seems an easy one now – just put the second … Continue reading The Lost Art of the B-side