Archive for the ‘Complexity’ Category

We Only See What We Can See

Consider two recent pieces in the New York Times: “How Animals See Themselves” by Ed Young, and “In a Parallel Universe, Another You” by Michio Kaku, both published on June 20th. Young reports that animals sense light, sounds, smells, etc. much differently than humans do.  It helps them to identify food, mates, and other means […]

Emerging Crises

I recently read Serhii Plokhy’s Atoms & Ashes (Norton, 2022), a chronicle of six nuclear disasters over several decades in America, England, Japan, and Russia, three in the military and three in electric utilities.  In all six cases, the consequences of the disaster were much worse than expected and governments did their best to cover […]

Winning Ways

What do these three practices have in common? Selling exorbitantly-priced drugs that provide no relative health benefits, but one cannot buy particular patented drugs and devices from other suppliers Producing very expensive weapon systems that may no longer be needed, but one cannot buy these weapon systems and spare parts from other suppliers One cannot […]

Hopeless Causes

I have been wondering about change initiatives that are hopeless in the sense that change is virtually impossible.  What do I mean by “impossible”?  Theoretical impossibility is quite rare.  Planes that fly faster than the speed of light and the elimination of death and all taxes are good examples.  Most would agree on the impossibility […]

Societal Allocation of Resources

With the proposed FY 2023 federal budget, government expenditures will grow to roughly 23% of the $26 trillion US Gross Domestic Product. Even with the proposed substantial annual tax increases on high-earners’ incomes, the offsetting tax revenues are insufficient to avoid a perpetual trillion dollar deficit each year, amounting to 5% of US GDP. This […]

Four Books I Highly Recommend

The time that I can devote to reading has soared over the past two years.  I spend much less time getting to and from meetings – typically zero.  Here are my four favorite books of the past two months.  I highly recommend them. Top of the list is Andy Norman’s Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, […]

Society’s Perfect Storm

Three weather fronts collided off the New England coast in 1991 – and the subsequent movie in 2000.  The Gloucester fishing boat Andrea Gail tried to endure but could not survive the onslaught.  Everyone was lost. We have as a society encountered a collision of “fronts” that have left us reeling.  The US mortgage crisis […]

Common Ground

Thirteen months ago, the Trump wing of the Republican party attempted a coup of the US government.  They failed despite injuring hundreds and killing several.  Many hundreds of these people have been indicted for their acts of insurrection.  Prison terms have started to result with hundreds more in the offing.  The Republican party has characterized […]

The World’s Toughest Problems

A recent issue of Technology Review (October 2021) features an article, “The problem to end all problems,” by Siobhan Roberts.   This article addresses the treasured problem of “P versus NP,” the holy grail of theoretical computer science and mathematics.  Can particular problems by solved in polynomial time (nx) or non-polynomial time (en), where n is […]