Thinking, Fast and Slow - Not a book review

Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Laureate and one of the founders of behavioural economics) in Thinking, Fast and Slow, identifies a number of biases in our thinking that can lead to poor decision making.

The question is: What done do with his work?

I don't know: 2 ways

"I don't know"

This tiny statement has 2 dichotomous meanings and effects. In its:
  • empowering mode - its an invitation to find out, to learn, to grow - opening future possibilities
  • paralytic mode - it is an invitation to not proceed, to block - closing or limiting possibilities
Which of these are meant by the person saying it and perceived by the person hearing it have massive implications for how the conversation will go. Read More...

Expect the Uexpected

There are certain classes in science and mathematics that computer science and software engineering people don't think they will need in a real job. These include:
  • finite arithmetic,
  • the limits of measurement; and,
  • quantum physics.
Unfortunately if you work with real numbers, measure anything or interact with time your simple straight forward problem turns into a twisty mess of complex cases as you do your best with what information you have.

We frequently drop complexity out by making useful models of the world. This simplification allows us to make a solution. But the next step is add back in the relevant bits where the real world upsets our model.

Be on the look out for places where those difficult cases might turn up and not let them arrive unexpected.

Google Updates Authenticator and loses all your data

Google Authenticator just updated on the Apple App Store today … and the update proceeded to loose all my stored authentication tokens.

There are many 'definitions' of what 2FA means

too expletive awful

is one that springs to mind today.

And the big irony. Google tells me its Cyber Sercurity month. No doubt this update is promoting better security.

If you are looking at destroying people's trust in 2FA, Google has just shown how to do it.


The Math of Pandemics is Hard

All the arguments about the right thing to do in a pandemic made me take a step back and wonder why is this so hard for a community to agree on what is to be done. Intelligent people come to wildly different conclusions about the right thing to do. In many cases different sides of an argument cannot even agree on the facts they are arguing over.

This is not going to be an article on a moral philosophy and the ascendance of rights over responsibilities. Instead I ponder a more basic problem:

Is the maths of a pandemic just hard

The dominant mathematics of contagion is that of exponentials. While this is the mathematics that underlies much of finance and physics, it is not the mathematics of the every day.

Exponential processes are both:

  • Poorly handled by our intuition
  • Inherently difficult to calculate

Perhaps this can explain some of the difficulties we have in seeing our way through as a community