Capitalism Without Conscience

Common Dreams via Robot Wisdom. Another one spot on the mark. Interesting that the hand-wringing fall-out from 9/11/FBI, Enron / Andersens / WorldCom should spark this re-emergence of the blindingly obvious facts. If you insist on rational models (like accounting) you should not be surprised that the rationalisation of the irrational creates misinformation and misguided business decisions – this is the Galbraith / Argyris / DeLorean thread at work – I must sound like a cracked record.

Of course ! – “blindingly obvious” is a clue in itself – so blinding that ignorance of it looks like a deliberate conspiracy in hindsight ? – hadn’t spotted this angle before. Many a true word spoken in aphorisms. How can you not see the blindingly obvious ? is a non-sequitor. Standard metaphorical jargon is often closer to the truth than the reality for which it is a metaphor – another recurring theme.

Interesting corollary I’ve been meaning to follow-up – the article includes quotes concerning Adam Smith’s writing of “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” before “The Wealth of Nations.”, that the order they were written is significant. Pirsig’s levels of values / Maslow’s hierarchy of needs all relevant here. I have a strong thread on “knowledge” being an emergent property of humans interacting and, in looking for the reverse relationship of what drives human nature / common sense / no-brainer actions to be the way they are, I have been drawn towards Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” analogy. Could there be more to this than analogy I wonder ?

Business Systems Don’t Work

Salon via Robot Wisdom. Another one to add to the thread, like the one on complexity of business solutions spotted earlier by Leon. Great work if you can get it. Business is so complex that systems are unlikely to model them very well, but being so complex, it’s unlikely anyone will notice that they don’t actually work. (Interesting that Jorn considers the claim “appalling” whereas it’s actually my starting point that this state of affairs exists.)

Back on-line Monday 22nd July (Not)

Latest update from Tiscali. Their web server and ftp server migrations were
out of synch, and my account details are yet to be uploaded to the new ftp
server. That means the visible web pages are now over a month behind the
posted blog pages. Sounded like a firm promise this time – fingers crossed.
Updated 25th – ftp server still not accepting updates.

What your doctor doesn’t know could kill you

Boston Globe article on PKC (via Jorn)
And Jorn’s page of Lawrence Weed’s Problem-Knowledge Couplers biographical links.
Another interesting link from Jorn. A variation of the medical expert diagnostic system which, rather than following pre-structured diagnostic sequences of questions, suspends analysis until after asking many questions then seeks to find patterns and relationships. Interesting evidence of effectiveness, but even more interesting evidence of human nature response (from real doctors accused of making wrong diagnoses.)

From the AI perspective, seriously suggesting evidence that the system is more “intelligent” (more capable of analysing and diagnosing a problem) than an experienced doctor. Also an angle on simply capturing more “raw” facts without any rationalisation or analytical conditioning provides for much better use of the information later – hence to focus on “record-keeping”. “Taking 20 minutes to get the facts straight from the start, he says, saves time and money down the road.” (see my angle on the “fraudster” thread below.) “Straight Facts” – no interpretation, or context free interpretation only – the main issue.

It gets better (it’s a long three page article) – also a line on dangers of “averaging” and statisical probabilities in a complex situation. A line on suspending judgement in analysis. Focus on “couplers” – things which might relate symptoms, not the symptoms themselves. Emperor’s suit of clothes or Galbraith / DeLorean / Argyris conspiracy of silence too “In the field of medicine, for many, many years, we have all been pretending we do not know that everybody has been pretending.”. Even scientific method – a doctors response “…. science is our tool – how can a computer do that?” Its not the technology, it’s the method / the model – simple rational logic (scientific method) is just not the best way to know about a human condition. Know it.

The guy is running a company selling his PKC sofware tool, but the rhetorical evidence here is very convincing stuff. A gold mine article. (Thanks again Jorn).