Welcome to 2018. The past year was good but this one is likely to be much better. I think in 2018 I will get a good deal of stuff done. One of the major tasks is the cleaning up of this blog. There’s too much stuff here, some of which needs to be sorted, rewritten, polished up and published.
I will write more frequently. Also, I will post interesting videos, and extended quotes, audio, etc. Here’s a quote from Frank Herbert’s “Chapterhouse: Dune.” (1985):
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.
Humans do bad stuff. But not all the time. Sometimes they are good. They become superheros and rescue a brood of ducklings. I wonder how did they fall into the storm drain in the first place, considering the fact that ducklings are precocial — they are born with eyes wide open and are able to fend for themselves within hours of hatching.
Anyway, this is the first ask me anything this year. What’s on your mind? Continue reading →
“At the heart of economics is a scientific mystery: How is it that the pricing system accomplishes the world’s work without anyone being in charge? Like language, no one invented it. None of us could have invented it, and its operation depends in no way on anyone’s comprehension or understanding of it. … The pricing system–How is order produced from freedom of choice?–is a scientific mystery as deep, fundamental and inspiring as that of the expanding universe or the forces that bind matter.”
I don’t believe that extreme stupidity is natural.
We are cognitively endowed by nature to, say, learn our mother tongue without instructions but reading and writing are unnatural because it is a learned skill. So also it is natural to be about average in intelligence (and therefore about average in stupidity) but extreme, off the chart stupidity is not natural. It has to be learned. I am guessing that one has to be immersed in some pernicious ideology to achieve a level of gross stupidity the mere observation of which makes your head hurt.
With this lead in, I am giving you fair warning that the YouTube video below may damage your mental health. So here goes. Continue reading →
This is inspired by my friend Rajan Parrikar’s post “Portraits of Success.” He references Carolyn Caddes‘s book, Portraits of Success – Impressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers (1986), which is a photographic tribute to the pioneers of Silicon Valley.
Among those featured in the book is Prof Terman (1900 – 1982) of Stanford University who is identified as “the Father of Silicon Valley.” Two of his students, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, were the first to follow his advice to start up their own electronics company. Thus was Hewlett-Packard Company formed in 1938 in a garage in Palo Alto, CA.
As it happens, I worked at HP in Cupertino, CA for a few years starting in the mid-1980s and even saw Bill and Dave in the facilities. Continue reading →
In a comment Ram wrote, “What are your thoughts on governments (or quasi government bodies) deciding what subjects should be taught in schools. For physical and social sciences, yes, I could think of market deciding it. But specifically what about languages? Can a government decide? But again, if we leave it to the market, some languages may not survive. I find it abhorrent that in some Indian states one could complete schooling all the way until Grade 12 without learning the local language.”
TL;DR version: Government should never get into any aspect of education — funding and running schools, dictating content, etc. That’s the job of parents, and if necessary, the job of society. Regarding languages, people decide what survives and what doesn’t. It’s a pity when a language dies but the use of force to keep a dying language alive cannot be morally justified.
All problems that humanity faces will ultimately be solved through better intelligence. After all, it is human intelligence that produces all that we have for our survival and prosperity. Nature-provided raw materials are strictly speaking worthless without the application of intelligence. Until very recently, all we had was human intelligence and human labor to get things done. More recently, human labor was augmented with machines. Machines are ultimately the product of human intelligence and human labor. Now we are getting to the point where human intelligence would be augmented by artificial or machine intelligence, and then in short order artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence (just as machine labor has surpassed human labor.)