Sunday, July 28, 2013

Biases can be good

One moral could be that if we try to be without biases (and to always deal from first principles), we easily get into states of "analysis paralysis" in which we become Congress-like (do nothingness). On the other hand, we can realize that fore-knowledge (several connotations to consider) has a lot of situational usefulness to folks who perform (or succeed or any number of other things).


There have been many incidents, of late (splashed across the spaces that are perturbed by news people, mainly for the sake of keeping turmoil to the maximum), that bring to the fore the fact that people process, cognitively and under the stress of handling potentially overwhelming input (senses and more), their load (from multitudinous sources) using pre-suppositions that are based upon several things: prior experience, what they've learned (redundancy, I know), superposition by a stronger mind (if you would, the influence of dominating (overbearing) persons (many types here that we'll get into eventually), and a whole lot more.

That is (and, one can argue the issue all sorts of ways), how people go through their daily lives deals a lot with what can be called "biases" (please, drop the pejorative notions (reactions, except, also be aware of your own biases), for a bit, okay?) which are helpers as much as hinder'ers.

So, let's accept that fact and spend some time looking at how this little trick helps us daily (as in, understanding the usefulness and how best to not let it carry us away).


By the way, the most prominent bias on the planet resides in the minds of the highly educated (we'll get there, too; however, if you look at posts in this, and the related, blogs, you'll see plenty of references to this). And, also, those types are the worse in pointing fingers at the biases of others.

Aside: please note that I said educated, and not smart (yes, the ability to ace tests is not as strongly advanced as many seem to want to think). Of course, autodidactism will be a key issue to look at.

The insidious part of those educated types is that everyone else suffers the consequences of their actions. Some little poor person's sphere of influence is much smaller (thereby, more amenable the scrutiny of more minds -- those who shield themselves behind chimeras make use of this dynamic (we'll get there, too).

Aside: if you look at the economy, and what might be called criminal activity thereof, mostly, bad behavior dealing with smaller amounts are slapped harder than those considered too big to fail (entrappers). We just saw that, up close and personal (still a problem despite the bullish aspect of the chimera's playground). Same goes for biases. Some pre-supposition that is wrapped with silly, abstracted jargon is as much a bias as is a knee-jerk reaction.


Now, in the context of IJCAI (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence), there was a talk titled: Why biased minds make better inferences. In other words, being of a homo heuristicus variety is part of our nature. Also, notice that the talk uses an example related to actually doing something (as opposed to what we see in DC now, with the poloticos, who have themselves wrapped so much in their biases that they are essentially ineffectual).

Aside: as opposed to algos. But, this talk is only one of many things to discuss, so don't get hung up on arguing about this one speech. However, notice that the talk does touch upon some modern techniques (about which we have made allusions) being done by those who need to acquire some familiarity with (even respect for) the issues of quasi-empiricism.


This topic was mentioned in an earlier post, about Baruch. But, it needs to be more prominently seen as an important part of what truth engineering is all about. There is a lot of work to do here.

But, for now, the message is for you to exalt in your biases. Embrace them. Thank them for helping you to make it through the day. And, know that progress along the scale of human advancement (I know, all sorts of arguable points here) does not entail that you lose your biases; rather, tuning them is what we need to learn how to do.

Aside: we want to mention Bayes, and his work. Even with this data-driven process, we can have biases (expectation being of essence). Thomas must be rolling over in his grave to see all of the misuse of his ideas that are the basis for the work (actually, raking in the money) of  Zuck, and the like. But, we'll get to that to boot, as money and biases go hand in hand.


We'll have to pick up several threads that were left dangling (our Basis, for example).

Also, just as biases can be good, we also know that there is a down side. Unfortunately, it's that latter that gets the attention. How our biases ought to be managed (by ourselves, okay) deals very much with truth and its wonders.


12/31/2013 -- A popular post.

Modified: 12/31/2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

CMS, again

CMS? Yes, one has to state the context within which the acronym (assuming that is such) needs to be interpreted. So, we're talking computing but there are, at least, two ways to view this. Both important.

Earlier, we started down the content management track since Microsoft decided to remove OfficeLive users from their happy ways. In fact, some had built business processes (okay, wrong choice on their part) upon the OfficeLive stuff. These people had to scramble to find a replacement resource.

For us, OfficeLive offered nice templates and a good front end to building a website. Did I mention that it was free? So, OfficeLive going away forced me to have to get technical.

Aside: I've put together fairly productive sets of software systems on a good laptop using free software. And, the functionality rivaled what a company would pay for. And, "code" (as in what drives computation and decision making) was my focus for decades. As some have argued, it was the reality. However, prior to the content management study, I had consciously refrained from doing code. So, what could have been more interesting that code? Lots of things. Mathematics is definitely, is one doesn't go down the applied path beyond things that can be done on paper (don't laugh, we used to do algorithm testing by hand in the early days). Modeling of all sorts will always be of interest. Why? Map-territory issues will require us to revolve the virtual and the real (foregoing, for the moment, the differences between these two). One reality will the sensors (almost like QE, sensors now and forever). Wait! Google glass having a potential use beyond mere gadgetry? ... How about History? For instance, there has been a lot of effort put into historic genealogical work (say, NEHGS). There is the History that we read about in books. Then, there's the existential affair of people and details and more. What about Memes in this context? Dawkins, perhaps, tongue-in-cheek proposed the concept to handle the messy things that don't fit well into theory. But, you know what? All this fits and starts with computation, networking, and more? To me it looks like a recapitulation with all sorts of ontological underpinnings.

So, after the initial look (early 2012), I realized that I needed to get up to speed. But, I had neither the time or the interest (see comments on WordPress, Drupal, Joomla). I set up a little bit of pages using these three but was not happy with the results that I would get without a serious attempt at learning how they worked. So, what did I do? I went back to what I knew (static HTML - after all, I was doing markup prior to HTML; too, I had many website in place from the Mosaic days onward). The main problem with HTML was finding a WYSIWYG editor as I didn't want to pay for Front Page or any other commercial tool. Guess what? Sea Monkey's little Composer is nice (not perfect, by far). So, this Site is the basis for all comparisons (OfficeLive's little thing, that worked for years, disappeared).


Wait! What's another meaning of CMS? Configuration management. In both cases, the "s" is for system.


So, of late, I've realized that I let the ball drop. Too, requirements were looming that would force me to either code something (not that I couldn't, but, again time and energy are limited). So, I had to get back to the garden (I had already learned that youtube has more than nice music videos - it is nice to see things from decades ago, ah), so to speak. I had been watching classes for awhile. No structure, just following interest. One wonderful video of a mathematics class at Stanford sold me on the approach of video. As you know, all of the schools have quality items there: Harvard, MIT, etc.

So, I looked for a WordPress video. Fortunately, there was one that you could have a site up on one-hour. That video set the standard, one hour. There's no real content to the the site that I built as I followed the video. But, it's there. And, I can make comparisons with other approaches.

Not seeing what I wanted in WordPress, I went to Drupal. First off, I couldn't find a video that claimed setting up a site in one hour (Mind you, part of the time is getting the site's name, etc. I was already set up with that.). But, I made an attempt. My reaction was that it was for coders. Everywhere, it looked like I was going to have to do HTML.

So, I looked for Joomla videos. There was a one-hour site claim, using Joomla 3. I had 2.5 installed and installed the newer version. So, I followed the video religiously. Where the guy had images or text, I just made things up. Here is the first result (here is the video - again, there were highly detailed subjects being covered in other videos which I'll get back to -- the requirement was to get something running).

After the first pass, I decided to build a site that I need to maintain. To do this, I followed the video, again, but at a faster clip. Here is the result. As I tried to add new things, I've gone back to the video (have not read a line of documentation yet -- I used to read part of the book (when learning some new language) and then jump in -- or, in class, I would follow for awhile and then just explore).

By the way, part of the decision comes from seeing who is using what. Harvard and Sprint are using Joomla. I'm familiar with both sites. I know that I need to dig deeper in Joomla. Case in point: as modules have side-effects, one has to worry about order and such; these types of nuances are what an expert knows how to handle. For me? I've resolved several of these. Actually, I like the development environment (say, compared to the older ways of using a C++ or other language in a developer's workbench) and the underlying control/interpret scheme.

Aside: Last year, I sort of recoiled from the heavy database use in these approaches. That explains, in part, the fallback to HTML and files. Now, I'm getting a little more comfortable, but I'm also ready to argue the points (we'll get there, truth engineering) of configuration. You see, the package pushes talk content. Configuration control support is there. Perhaps, it's covered in the book. We'll see. However, as I've seen with all of this free stuff. You have updates and upgrades always coming at you. How things interplay must be taken seriously if you're in an environment with continual use. Who drive requirements for these things? Is it too much a gadgetry (feature) focus?

After playing with Joomla, I knew that I had to look at other approaches which are several. Concrete5 sort of jumped out. It's a front end for developers, one video said. Here is my little bit (didn't even use a video, as it seemed intuitive). I'll have to spend some time with this. And, also I'll need to look at others, to be complete.

In the meantime, I'll maintain the current site (static HTML -- blogging all the while), use Joomla as the future, and try to get the Concrete5 example to be like the Joomla. After things become more second nature, then a total redesign might be in order. Right now, I just cut stuff from the static view to the database. Perhaps, thinking about web design issues might be apropos.


06/20/2016 -- Concrete5 example removed. Broken link in one library (at the ISP) mentioned by

05/31/2016 -- Continuation of the theme.

08/02/2014 -- Bit the bullet and updated the site (looks, behavior) using HTML/CSS. Of course, things are still pending, such as membership functions, business, ... We'll get there.

10/19/2013 -- Too many interesting things to get involved in. Is coding for the young? That is, not that the older mind cannot do it; rather, it's fairly mundane compared to other things. To be discussed. Perhaps, winters onset will push the mind toward the computational.

09/04/2013 -- While poking around more, I'm more inclined to think that the database, as a central feature, is not the great leap forward that some might think. Unless, using such is wedded with structural approaches (to be defined - unless someone can point to an existing discussion). Took a break for awhile, but did an edit in Joomla and in Concrete5, today. The latter keeps the HTML visibly present. So, that might lead one to think that it's coding, perhaps.

07/14/2013 -- I meant to mention other uses of CMS. Wiki has several that are computer related. We can't forget the Navy's CMS-2. Too, software configuration systems were known by CMS. But, there are many non-computer usages, such as Change Management System (related to process management).

07/13/2013 -- Ah, yes. design. Here is someone touting the powers of WordPress.

Modified: 06/20/2016

Monday, July 8, 2013


Entrapment? Yes, we're being overlaid with an insidious veil of supposed intelligence (singularities lurk). Earlier, we mentioned Eric Hoffer, as an example for us (outside the mania of consumerism, for one). Doug, the mouse guy and more, is another (was not like the current ones who are raking in billions daily for getting us further into perdition). We'll be adding to this list (Perelman, Patel, ..., lots of people).


We have people putting computer-based systems into processes without understanding how the two influence one another. Too, in some cases, they don't care as it pulls in the bucks (in the short term, then we have to bail them out). That's one big issue (push out the changes, make your user base adapt -- it's good for them).

Another is a map-territory problem (Google glass is only going to exacerbate the problem). You see, people get to believe that what's in the bits (such as, FB's trivia, etc.) is more real than the being itself. We'll have to go on at length about this type of mismatch. Being will (always does) win, folks, in the end.


We'll be seeing more of this type of thing; when will the populace wake up (suggesting that people with their feet on the ground and hands in the mud know more of this than high-flying execs of these grandiosely motivated organizations).

SSA error
AARP recently wrote of a 93-year-old, WWW II Vet who lost his Medicare coverage when someone in a SSA process updated his birthdate to an incorrect value. Then, they (SSA) had the audacity to tell him that their value was correct AND that he would have to use their value for his birth date correctly.

Naturally, the guy got irritated. As he, and his family, were working with the media (old type, not social - ah, much to say there, too) on a story about the idiocy, SSA discovered their error and apologized (as if that were enough).

Makes one think that we've forgotten GIGO as the "experts" talk about error-correcting processes, robust systems, and such (ah, entrapment, indeed).


All around, people have been making billions by spawning off half-systems (loaded with silly features - started early, yes Gates?) where errors, and losses, are the users' responsibility (has anyone actually quantified the bucks - trillions? - of accumulative losses from these half-witted types?). And, this witless (actually, it's a ploy to entrap) SOP has grown to proportions that are staggering.

Now, the solution going forward ought to be to have bucks devoted to 24/7 watch-dogging databases (say, watching the Equifaxes of the world) with the proviso that an error that can be certified by a human (even by phone) can be corrected (with appropriate notes and traces) quickly (with proper documentation, things can be looked at, and audited, at will - this is more than the financial folks can claim) and much more. There would be continual monitoring (many ways, not just NSA's little paranoia) by the people. Talk about jobs (yes, and this would be trainable -- look, please -- those who argue to bring in talent are looking for several things: no conscience, even less cultural attachment, reduced focus - some call this tunnel vision - so as to maximize pushing out crap, and more - yes, even though there are things like quality certification). There would be many, many jobs (see next for where the money would come from).

That is, all these billionaires are such because proper costs were not considered (near zero) in whatever the situation in which the bucks accumulated (yes, investors are problematic, to boot). In terms of cost, the populace bears the brunt in order for some to be luxuriously entertained (say, workers being screwed - too many ways to enumerate).


Take Equifax, for one. They could very well prevent the computational hell that is being imposed upon us. We'll get into that further, to boot.


07/30/2013 -- The future: economy and technology.

07/12/2013 -- Will wonders never cease? Jon knocks early-lookers?

07/12/2013 -- Comment on FB: Just read in the WSJ of a growing presence of a shadow "Supreme Court" (details to be discussed via blog). Think of it: police, judge, jury, executioner, mortician (and all the other roles) all rolled up unto one secretive group(s). Kings and feudal lords (slave owners) come to mind; but, do we have those nowadays? 

Then, we have shadow banking (its size is probably multiples of what gets caught under accounting's purview - Ben knows this). We have banks using hackers to stress their systems (what shadow activities can arise from that? - the Internet did not have to unfold like it did).

We have shadow government (supposedly handled by open-door policies). And, shadow business is cloaked under those leg-irons called non-disclosure agreements that are required for employment (makes working for oneself attractive, even if such causes one's life to border on poverty). The market addicts (those who go gaga (apologies to the Lady G) when Ben goes goo-goo) want their dark pools, and more.

Shadows are everywhere (no conspiracy paranoia intended, or unintended). USA Today talked about the shadow credit ratings (yes, the silly number that we get to see if not it, folks - that is, those who decide your fate look at their own little bit of stuff). The Big-3, and such ilk, need more scrutiny.

Well, shadows are real, to the extent of their natural properties. We have to deal with them. But, the rise of the computer (and its offspring - web, etc.) is raising the bar (for the bad guys - lowering it for we, the people) by changing the context of shadows (poorly understood at this time) in ways only hinted at by early concepts, such as undecidability.

Happy Friday thoughts.

07/11/2013 -- In a sense, Ben is trapped into the expectations of the addicts. Yes, there are several factors involved with this. Poor guy. Yet, for the rest of us, like the savers who are being tortured, we'll have to endure this idiocy for whatever time it takes. Yet, entrapment is making things worse day by day.

07/09/2013 -- How will we get the proper mind set to counter the web that binds? Is it trainable or existential (study dedicated to GEK III)? Some ask if the lack of accountability, or the observed absence of notions of responsibility, are major factors. Yes, there are aspects to this problem that come out of our humanness, worked over and over as generations pile up on life's shore. However, the larger problem is that the presumption behind many worldviews dealing with technology is that we understand more than we actually do. That latter overlaps partly with the concepts behind quasi-empiricism. ... Money, as truth, muddies the water, to boot.

Modified: 07/30/2013