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    nmw 14:21:07 on 2017/01/10 Permalink
    Tags: depend, , , , , , inter-reliance, interdependence, , reliability, , reliance, rely, , self-reliance,   

    The Rationality of Interdependence vs. Independence (+ Self-Reliance + Inter-Reliance) 

    Many people are upset. They are upset with something the Donald did. Apparently, they feel somewhat dependent on stuff Donald does.

    Donald does stupid stuff – and so do you. We all do stupid stuff. Whether or not Donald realizes he does stupid stuff is not about you or me – it is simply about Donald.

    You don’t depend on Donald. You may feel as though you depend on Donald, but you are still free to do your own thing. You can always do the right thing even if Donald does something wrong.

    You may say I’m a dreamer, but I couldn’t care less what someone screams into a megaphone.

    This isn’t about me. Or someone. Life is about all of us.

    Whether we are or aren’t living a life of dependency depends on what you think. If you think you can live without breathing air, feel free to go right ahead and live that way. I don’t think that way, so perhaps I will choose not to rely on you.

    What I rely on is my decision.

    I don’t rely on „fake news“ or even retard media in general.

    What you choose to rely on is up to you. I hope you will be able to choose wisely, and I am also willing to help you – but it really does depend on what you want and on what you choose to do.

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    nmw 15:27:59 on 2016/07/12 Permalink
    Tags: academia, academic, , , , , , , , bandwagon, bandwagon effect, , , , , , , , , , compute, , corrupt, corrupted, corruption, , , , , , , group think, groupthink, , , , , , , , , , , , , majority, , , , , populism, populist, , , rason, , , , reliability, , , , , , systemic, , , trusted, , , universities, , valid, validity, vote, votes, voting, ,   

    The Spectre of Populism 

    There is a spectre haunting the Web: That spectre is populism.

    Let me backtrack a moment. This piece is a part of an ongoing series of posts about „rational media“ – a concept that is still not completely hard and fast. I have a hunch that the notion of „trust“ is going to play a central role… and trust itself is also an extremely complex issue. In many developed societies, trust is at least in part based on socially sanctioned institutions (cf. e.g. „The Social Construction of Reality“) – for example: public education, institutions for higher education, academia, etc. Such institutions permeate all of society – be it a traffic sign at the side of a road, or a crucifix as a central focal element on the alter in a church, or even the shoes people buy and walk around with on a daily basis.

    The Web has significantly affected the role many such institutions play in our daily lives. For example: one single web site (i.e. the information resources available at a web location) may be more trusted today than an encyclopedia produced by thousands of writers ever were – whether centuries ago, decades ago, or even still just a few years past.

    Similarly, another web site may very well be trusted by a majority of the population to answer any and all questions whatsoever – whether of encyclopedic nature or not. Perhaps such a web site might use algorithms – basically formulas – to arrive at a score for the „information value“ of a particular web page (the HTML encoded at one sub-location of a particular web site). A large part of this formula might involve a kind of „voting“ performed anonymously – each vote might be no more than a scratch mark presumed to indicate a sign of approval (an „approval rating“) given from disparate, unknown sources. Perhaps a company might develop more advanced methods in order to help guage whether the vote is reliable or whether it is suspect (for example: one such method is commonly referred to as a „nofollow tag“ – a marker indicating that the vote should not be trusted).

    What many such algorithms have in common is that on a very basic level, they usually rely quite heavily on some sort of voting mechanism. This means they are fundamentally oriented towards populism – the most popular opinion is usually viewed as the most valid point of view. This approach is very much at odds with logic, the scientific method and other methods that have traditionally (for several centuries, at least) be used in academic institutions and similar „research“ settings. At their core, such populist algorithms are not „computational“ – since they rely not on any kind of technological solution to questions, but rather scan and tally up the views of a large number of human (and/or perhaps robotic) „users“. While such populist approaches are heralded as technologically advanced, they are actually – on a fundamental level – very simplistic. While I might employ such methods to decide which color of sugar-coated chocolate to eat, I doubt very much that I, personally, would rely on such methods to make more important – for example: „medical“ – decisions (such as whether or not to undergo surgery). I, personally, would not rely on such populist methods much more than I would rely on chance. As an example of the kind of errors that might arise from employing such populist methods, consider the rather simple and straightforward case that some of the people voting could in fact be color-blind.

    Yet that is just the beginning. Many more problems lurk under the surface, beyond the grasp of merely superficial thinkers. Take, for example, the so-called „bandwagon effect“ – namely, that many people are prone to fall into a sort of „follow the leader“ kind of „groupthink“. Similarly, it is quite plausible that such bandwagon effects could even influence not only people’s answers, but even also the kinds of questions they feel comfortable asking (see also my previous post). On a more advanced level, complex systems may be also be influenced by the elements they comprise. For example: While originally citation indexes were designed with the assumption that such citation data ought to be reliable, over the years it was demonstrated that such citations are indeed very prone to be corrupted by a wide variety of corruption errors and that citation analysis is indeed not at all a reliable method. While citation data may have been somewhat reliable originally, it became clear that eventually citation fraud corrupted the system.

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    nmw 14:57:18 on 2015/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , fixed, flux, , , , , , , privilege, privileges, reliability, , , , , variable   

    How to Fix the World via the Legal System 

    I have long since been a big fan of Edmund Burke — the “father of modern conservatism”…. He was probably far ahead of his time, but for today, I feel he is no longer far ahead of our time. What is more: I think I myself have figured out a way to improve on his ideas about conservatism.

    These ideas I have, I started having them during my college years .. but I have just now added one significant extra twist which make them far simpler to implement.

    The basic idea is this: People should be able to live out their lives under a single system of laws and not have to worry about whether laws might change at some point in time. The main reason why this is problematical is that lawyers (or legislators, or whatever) keep changing the laws … and therefore law (remember how Tom Paine wrote that “in America, law is king”?) is a constantly moving target. The problems, therefore might get extremely complicated if people are born at different times… as in the meantime (between their dates of birth) some of the laws may very well have changed.

    The “extra twist” I came up with today is this: There should be different levels of fixedness — I think perhaps four of them. The law we have today — basically: fully “variable” law (and by that I mean the laws could change at any time) — could be called “free” law (because we don’t have to “pay” anything for it — at least not apparently so). This is what everyone has today (whether they like it or not).

    To this I would add 3 levels of more “fixed” laws: 1. uniquely fixed law; 2. strictly fixed law; and 3. affordable fixed law. Affordable fixed law (a sort of privilege) could be bought at a rather affordable rate, and it would fix the law a person is subjected to to the law of a specific calendar year. Strictly fixed law would fix it to a particular date. Uniquely fixed law would go above and beyond that and fix it to a unique point in time. This reasoning adds some significant ideas. First, moving from free law to affordable fixed law to strictly fixed law to uniquely fixed law, one would advance from lesser privileges to higher privileges — in other words: the higher privileges would trump the lower levels of fixedness. Also, this would introduce something like market forces into the system — the price of affordable fixed vs. strictly fixed vs. uniquely fixed law could be set at the beginning, but might be allowed to rise and fall with the sentiments of how people wish to invest in having such a level of reliability.

    That is the basic idea, redux. I will leave it at that for now — at least I have finally written it down and posted it for all the world to see. :)

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    feedwordpress 12:21:13 on 2013/08/30 Permalink
    Tags: , reliability, , , , , ,   

    In Language We Trust 

    There is one point about that the Wisdom of the Language that seems confusing: It is apparently not clear to some which language is being referred to. I have left this open and ambiguous by choice, because it is not really a straightforward matter. Let me explain.

    I am not talking about English or German, Arabic or Chinese. The main issue I see is written vs. spoken language. I find it amazing that few people make this distinction, but it is a very important one. The difficulty, though, is how to truly nail it down. For example: When I speak into a telephone, the audio signal is transformed into an electrical signal. In many (if not most) cases, that electrical signal is then transformed into either a light signal or a radio signal. The light or radio signal is the one that usually travels most of the distance (as these travel the fastest), then the signals are trasformed back (first into an electrical signal and then into another audio signal). In other words: there are several cases of writing and rewriting of data involved — so this is actually a written (and often translated) message, even though it appears to us to be simply spoken.

    When I say “In Language We Trust”, I mean written language… even though writing is difficult to define. Is my genetic information a case of written language or not? Is the Magna Charta that gets printed in textbooks and encyclopedias across the globe the exact same text as the one written almost 800 years ago in England? Are the pictures etched into the Code of Hammurabi also writing? Why (or why not)?

    Of course I am playing Devil’s Advocate here. When I get a call on the telephone about some stupendous offer for me to save money, get rich quick or buy insurance to cover the risk that my cat might die in a car accident, I may ask them to send something in writing (though more likely I will simply hang up). I do not trust insurance salesman, and I do not trust statements uttered in spoken language as much as I trust information in writing.

    Written language seems to have a permanence that makes it more reliable. This is true in spades for a particular type of written content online: Domain names. We are all invested in domain names, much in the same way as we all have a stake in the English Language (or if some other language is your native language, then that language). When we say “house”, “tomorrow” or “water” in our native language to another person who speaks the same language as their native language, there is generally a trust that we are roughly speaking using the same names to mean the same things. Likewise, if I ask you to visit house.com, tomorrow.net or water.org, then there is little doubt that we are referring to the same thing (note, however, that the most of the information presented at tomorrow.net may very well be ads brought to you by Google, and that Google will probably deliver content that it feels will probably maximize profit for Google, Inc. — nonethless: this is what the administrator of tomorrow.net has decided, and the fact that the registrant of tomorrow.net is a company named “Oversee” and located in Los Angeles, California is public information, as is the company’s telephone number, street addess, etc.; there is no doubt that this company is ultimately responsible for any information presented at the URL “tomorrow.net” … and there is proof of this fact in writing). We often rely on the public nature of registries: the bank notes we use are numbered in this manner, the land upon which houses and other buildings are built are recorded in land registries, and so on. Registries are to ownership of private property much the same as dictionaries are to language — as a society we “buy into” both of these systems, in order to facilitate order and ease of use (in the case of property, to simplify commerce; and in the case of language, to simplify communication).

    This is probably far more detailed and complicated that what you were bargaining for when you decided to read this post. The plain and simple version might simply read: “In Language We Trust” refers to written language, not hot air! :D

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