Weapons of Math destruction by Cathy O’Neil

Weapons of Math Destruction

Key take aways

  • Human values like justice and mercy is hard if not impossible to encode as rules
  • Data scientist use proxies as an approximate gauge for the existence of values. These are inherently inaccurate if not downright wrong
  • While using of race as a feature to determine if loan should be approve is obviously racist, the use zip codes though not obvious is equally racist since race tends to segregate around geographical territories
  • Models are increasingly used to across various domains to help increase the speed of decision making. This increases the negative impact of badly designed models will have on humans
  • A feedback is necessary to ensure continuous correction of badly design models – transparency of how your credit score is calculated
  • Regulations are necessary on the use of models as companies driven by quarterly reporting requirements of shareholders are primarily be focused on the bottom line

 

Diogenes the Cynic: The war against the world

Diogenes the cynic: the war against the world

The building blocks of Diogenes’ philosophy

  1. Self sufficiency: only need yourself and dispense with societal support
  2. Shamelessness: be willing to break even the most sacrosanct rules to express absolute freedom
  3. Indifference: be unconcerned with things not within your control
  4. Insensibility: to become insensible to both pain and pleasure
  5. Ignorance: To limit intellectual activities to those that are of immediate value for human life
  6. Disciplined training:
    • commit to a program of self training that strengthens his character,
    • lessens dependencies on social and physical needs,
    • maintain his desires and impulses under strict rational control
  7. Strength of character:
    • aspire to develop in himself a character and physical constitution like those associated with Hercules
    • that renders him impervious to vicissitudes and sufferings of human life
  8. Poverty:
    • understand that virtue and happiness cannot be found in the search and acquisition of physical possessions
    • divest himself of as many things as possible,
    • retaining the bare necessities to keep him alive and that assure him the freedom that Hercules esteemed as the most precious thing in the world
  9. Philanthrophy
    • Recognize his moral obligation to make himself useful in the task of dispelling illusions that rob people of their ability to be happy and live in accordance with nature
  10. Contempt for the opinions of many
    • renounce the need to be honored or appreciated by others
    • welcome repudiation and insults
    • look with contempt or suspicion at the values and customs by which people guide themselves

A weird 2020 when 2008 repeated itself metaphorically

Unfortunately my earlier prediction of wildfire spreading from the US west coast as far as inland as Montana is once again spot on.

https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm

Give the long amount of time I spent in the woods in these sections conducting my hobo experiments, I could have easily became one of the 33.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/13/western-wildfires-monday-forecast-california-oregon-washington/5786311002/

I had a hunch that this year was going to be weird when I landed on the wrong side of the Lotte building during the 2020 new years count down in Seoul only to manage at catching the last 5 seconds of the fireworks after making a dash for it.

Things really started getting weird when COVID broke out in Europe and it seem to be always just 1-2 days behind me as I traversed the cities of Eastern Europe. And that saga came to a climatic end when I scuttled my way back to Singapore just hours before borders shutdown around the world.

Also not to forget mention me cutting all my long positions in oil hours just a day before it experienced its largest crashed in 30 years.

This weirdness got compounded when I started making my way overland eastwards and entire sections of the route I took got shrouded in inferno just a few days after my departure.

I wonder when I do eventually make my way back eastwards end of this year would I past through on the way back be flooded shortly after my departure…

It does remind me of 2008 when I slowly made my way westwards overland from Asia to Europe. Shortly after my departure from Szechuan the earthquake, broke out. This was followed by the Tibetan riots shortly after my departure from the Tibetan highlands and finally the Uighur riots shortly after I crossed the border from XinJiang into Kazakstan.

General thoughts of training trading bot

  • regime change occurs on the average every 3 months and the model gets outdated.
  • early signs of outdated model includes consistent non-commit signals
  • initial changes to trading parameters will tend to yield poor initial outcomes.
  • Good outcomes will require time to play itself out
  • Buying on the MACD bullish reversal tends to be too late in a volatile market. Potential gains from the reversal would have most likely played out by then
  • Drastically reducing number of outstanding positions leads to inefficiency of capital deploy as capital is left idling around with a bullish trend plays itself out
  • Explore buying when negative MACD trend slows down.

Realizations from nights spent isolated in the wilderness

There are only so many nights you can spend alone in isolation out in the wilderness before your brain fully discards all the faulty wirings imprinted by Hollywood’s horror movies.

What’s left is this primal realization that human is a very vicious predator perched pretty high up on the food chain. Further arm him with tools and he ends up right at the top of the food chain.

It is easy to forget about this fact when you have spent much of your life living in the city amongst other men following man made rules while attempting to play “civilized”.

Between groups of men there always exist collaboration and competition for resources extracted from nature. There also exist this constant jostling of position, usually labelled “politicking”, to gain more of these resources while exerting the same amount of effort. The bulk of the “stress” of “modern life” stems from “acquiring” what you need through the collective efforts of the group.

Between men and nature, the relationship appears simpler. The rules are pretty much fixed at the on set by nature. Man’s primary task is to figure out if the season is conducive for the activity being undertaken. Nature’s feedback is usually pretty immediate.

Related readings:

  • The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris
  • The nature of technology, Brian Arthur
  • Why the west rules for now, Ian Morris
  • Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari
  • I-Ching, the books of changes
  • Tao De Ching, Lao Tze

Thoughts on advertising

Getting a deep level of empathy from another fellow human being is one of the most yearned desires of every person.

A message in recognition of a person’s  actualized self is more powerful than one centered around what you are trying to sell.

Key takeaways from the meaning of vanlife

The Van Life idea seems like an ember that will eventually grow to become like what manifested as the Hippies movement of the 60s, the Burning Man festival and before that the Scouts movement.
One recurring theme observed between Van Life and Burning Man is the notion of “Coming Home”, where man steps away from the artificial construct he spent generations building up to finally return to nature.
Humans in the aggregate do behave somewhat like a self adjusting thermostat forever oscillating between extremes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8dN4jP3OZQ

Related readings:

  • Future Shock, Alvin Toffler
  • Different, Youngme Moon
  • I Ching, the book of changes
  • Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

Future concerns

One of the primary fear of the future an average man has stems from the “abstract idea” of how physical discomfort would feel like during old age just prior to the point of death and how terrible it might be.
 
This primary fear is the main driver behind the average man’s continued effort to accumulate resources of various forms. It is done with hopes to alleviate that “discomfort” when it does eventually come.
 
The problem with that mode of thinking is the future is unknowable and man ends up wasting his precious limited life span over provisioning, not to mention it’s overall negative impact on the environment.
 
An alternate approach as practiced in various ascetic traditions is to steadily build the ability to keep equanimity at various thresholds of discomfort through daily practice. This curtails over-provisioning , frees up precious time to do more meaningful stuff and is generally good for the environment.
 
Related references:
– Diogenes
– Seneca
– Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
– Vipassana mediation
– TaoDeChing, Lao Tze
– The Tiger’s Cave, Trevor Leggett
– Zen mind, Beginner’s mind, Shinryu Suzuki
– The book of five rings, Musashi