Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wealth as value

An earlier post mentioned the old saw about how 'smart' needs to be rich to prove itself. Well, 'is that so?' is a retort alluding to various topics related to truth that we'll have to address, eventually.

A recent weekend article in the Wall Street Journal describe the work of the rich man's Moore (as in Michael and, namely Jamie Johnson). Johnson uses 'aristocrat' to describe a growing class of the 'silver-spooned' which one could argue is the result of a meritocracy (assuming no malfeasance or barely legal gaming) rewarding aptitude and attitude yet one keeps going back to those who claim 'divine right' and more.

Johnson's work looks not only at inter-generational wealth but at the growing gap between the upper 1% (actually, it's a much smaller number) and the rest; these issues are very much part of discussions about sustainability.

One can argue that aptitude has value due to its potential to fruit; some attitudes have value (many don't); yet, somehow we need to grapple with the notion of things-in-themselves where even intrinsics might come into play.


10/13/2011 -- It is our economy.

01/18/2009 - We even need to look at why we need finance.

08/01/2008 -- Actually, we have the perfect domain for discussing this issue which covers a gamut in its roles and is of phenomenal importance, namely money and what it can represent, as well as how it ought to do its representation. Especially is this so in that the modern financial realm has been engineered to the max with outcomes that are obviously apparent in their undesirability.

06/12/2008 -- It's interesting to turn this around.

Modified: 10/13/2011

Monday, February 18, 2008

Loops and truth

Recent posts have had an economic flavor as this topic is important to engineering using a larger definition of economics that gets beyond money and scarce resources.

In a sense, any decision process (and, folks, computational processes are nothing but decisions) has aspects related to economics.

Minsky's model really deals with how far we can carry relationship before having to check-in with reality. For instance, feedback loops work (such as, automated flight) since they tie into sensors.

What are the data that can drive a project or an economy? Well, that is the subject of the 7'oop7 blog, in part. It is of interest here, to boot.

So, getting back to Minsky, he proposed what might be termed a hierarchy of values and their measurables. That is, we have things that are more concrete (like a plane that can actually fly given fuel, pilot, and other things) and more abstract (like some plan - even if computionally supported- or design - until proven). Then, we have (essentially) extrapolations from that.

Our abstractions can get far removed from reality (whatever that is, we'll get into). In fact, some mathematicians (those with the pure hearts) take great glee in being thusly removed. Whereas, those who have to actually build things (like airplanes) cannot remove themselves too far from what is real.

So, dealing with the real, we have to like hedging, though that concept has been usurped by particular types of funded thinking. It's the first-order abstraction that will work and be in control, given that certain rules are met.

Next up is speculation. Think of this as the realm where the hype versus hypothesis dynamics play out. Again, this can be controlled, though risk is a definite element here.

Too, it is here where management starts to wreck havoc (the old pun that in a manager's meeting, water runs uphill is apropos) due to their having insufficient data or having improper grasp of what goes behind the data (an argument that data is function-based and not merely related to capture/retrieval operations).

One might say that we need the hedge realm in order for the systems engineer to work. Then, we need the speculative for the business and economic goals to play out. Note, though, that the speculative is only as good as its underlying hedging ontology.

Finally, we have the Ponzi realm, according to Minsky, for which all bets are off. It's the realm of those with either too much time on their hands or no clue about the impacts that their decisions have on others (like second-hand smoke, we ought not allow secondary and tertiary and more economics effect to be played out in the hands of those without ethics) or the like.

From a project viewpoint, the house-of-cards upon which rests some computational ontologies are not unlike the Ponzi. We'll get back to that in the context of how the quasi-empirical necessitates certain types of project activity, such as testing early and often.

Yes, Minsky had some powerful insight here that engineers need to think about.


11/04/2010 -- Big Ben is still putting us at risk and trashing the savers.

09/12/2009 -- Sandbox was used without definition. Let's discuss that concept.

12/17/2008 -- We'll use made-off in lieu of ponzi, henceforth.

09/14/2008 --

As seen in the 7'oops7 grouping related to Minsky's model, examples abound of finance going awry, very much due to moral hazards being allowed to continue in the name of capitalism, leading to the need for bailouts as we've seen much of, of late. Several arguments get in the way. For instance, these are complicated issues; yet, some complications are self-created in order to continue the play ground (gaming). And, we don't know a whole lot; why? Well, we're dealing with the dismal science. Yet, even the premiere sciences have (or will, at some point, have) to deal with the issues of quasi-empiricism and what they might mean. So, let's get the sandbox defined, and in place, for those who need the thrill. The more mature minds ought to be considering how to establish a more solid basis for the future (the metaphor: not only is the current financial scheme on sand, it's continually washed by waves; we need to build the land of continents that can stand the test of time. ).

08/03/2008 --

This post showed how Minsky's model for the inevitable outcome of gaming in finance could be an analog for engineering management issues. To take the analysis further, money has to be looked at in depth in an attempt to show why we've lined up on the side of the gamers and to attempt to look at alternative methods that are not so painful to the hapless.

Modified: 08/24/2011