Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knowns and unknowns

Those things mentioned first are a growing set both for us, as individuals, and for the species as a whole. All around us are the results of our prowess at handling knowns.

However, those same examples that abound of our creativeness and abilities come from smart handling of unknowns. Some may call this decision making under uncertainty. All sorts of progress was enabled by advances in mathematics, science, engineering, and, of the latter times, computation. One key discipline related to this is risk management.

Too, earned value still is problematic for any large program.

And, it's not unkind at this point to note that the recent economic mess is due to failings of smarties involved with risk management. Supposedly, several of their financial instruments (some of which Buffett called weapons of mass destruction - that was in 2003, yet, he did dabble - still is dabbling, some wonder why) were not as risk free as touted; the consequences thereof were abounding as they grew across the set of the hapless; and, those who perpetrated the fraudulent thinking are still free and getting bonuses.

As an aside, this blogger is not against derivatives. How can the concept, that arose out of calculus and as usurped by the financiers for their shenanigans be bad? Consider, though, a hierarchy based upon Minsky - hedge, speculate, then ponzi (or should I say Madoff?) as apropos to these instruments and the underlying regulation that is now being bantered about.

Anyway, where were we? Despite the growing set of knowns, any who have a thoughtful nature may know that the unknowns didn't diminish as the knowns grew. Of course, thinking along those lines may require some acceptance of the hierarchies that emerged out of Cantor's work, yet, we can also say that the remark attributed to Newton could be used, to boot. It had to do with finding pebbles on a beach (small set of pebbles found so far, as opposed to an endless beach, so to speak). But, the pig after the honey of moolah would most likely trample such insights into the sty's mud.

So, this issue is very important to the subject of this blog and, therefore, will recur. Of note will be a focus on how a phase, of a test program, that is just starting will unfold.


08/04/2012  -- Over five years, we had a lot of side trips. We'll try to focus more. BTW, Rumsfeld has recently had his say.

05/27/2009 -- That we have topsy-turvy needs to be addressed more fully in both an epistemologic and an operational sense.

Modified: 08/04/2012

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