Theres never been a better time to be alive

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I came across on Ben Casnocha an old post about life. That’s not a very good way to begin a sentence, however let me elaborate. He speaks of this being the best time to be alive. For instance in the UK and Ireland crime is down as well as in the USA, and general things seem to be improving. The great Computer Scientist John Mc Carthy used to write usenet posts all about human progress, and although we should be careful about some things we can do technologically, we should encourage human progress. As a young intellectual and gentleman, I think that I sometimes have the tendency to think that the past was better. A pre facebook nirvana when everyone sat around and read the Illiad. In reality this is the best possible time to be alive, and pining for better times is a distraction from current times. Go and live, and I guess I should get around to finish reading Dostoyevsky!

The internet and computing, with their wonderful tools (see Wolfram Alpha for an example) is making smart people smarter, as Gian Carlo Rota stated one of our goals should be to be computer illiterate squared.

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On Branding

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At www. measuringmeasures.blogspot.com   the point was made

that one needs to develop skill first and then branding. He in his analysis of http://www.paulgrapham.com/hamming.html (hammings wonderful talk) proposed that something that is shocking in science and research circles is the notion of selling.

Just to be short, ‘life is sales’. My boss in Shanghai said that to me, and I didn’t in my idealism realize that what he was saying wasn’t an attack on skill development or anything like that. But it was a wise comment, we sell ourselves to a potential client, we can sell the idea of physics and science, we can sell the notion that we have ethical obligations in regards climate change. I’m now going to spend some time developing my ability to sell my skills. Afterall what is the point of developing technical skills if one doesn’t brand oneself well. Theres nothing wrong with a bit of personal branding, however an important caveat is that one needs to have something to brand first!

I thank Rayyan for the tip involving this notion of personal branding.

Open Source Democracy

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Recently I’ve been thinking about how Open Source ideas, such as how some excellent software works. Could be applied in a political science sense. For instance could we solve the Budget Deficit by using the ideas and collective expertise of the people. Such things could be policy documents dealing with the possibility of pre 1850 Scottish Banking ideas being implemented in the banking system. The people could actually be consulted on some important issues. I’m going to try to elaborate on these ideas in a future post. However I’ve already been warned by Michael Nielsens blog, that this could be a very difficult thing to implement in practice. Is it therefore inevitable that political problems can’t be solved by open source innovation? Why are political problems so intractable. For instance there must be an objective best solution to the AIDS pandemic, i.e. the disease not existing. However what are the optimal solutions. Is it worth considering major problems in such a way?

Could we form a consensus on how political problems are solved? Is it worth considering for instance, child poverty and prostitution as two problems to attack in this scheme.