Use yer heid:: conventional wisdom requires a sound basis


Here is a piece that I found particularly interesting. The full article can be found here.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s capacity to modify its organization, pertaining to the acquisition of new skills and learning. Several decades ago, the consensus was that the neocortical areas were immutable after a certain stage of development. However, recent studies determined that environmental changes could alter cognition by modifying neuron connections in adults. What’s more, it was determined that stress is the key factor in boosting plasticity, and learning, in the nervous system.

In other words, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The brain says to itself: “Oh, my survival is at risk, so I’d better start thinking and learning really hard right now.” It’s only when you have skin in the game that you’ll really focus and learn.

Unfortunately there are still too many people who have difficulty in coming to terms with the FACT that, the others, who have always been around and tended to make things all right, can no longer be relied upon to do so!

Who’s that then?neural plasticity

The institutions that we were brought up to trust.

Organisations that could be trusted but who have shown themselves more concerned about holding on to power and/or wealth, than responding to he changes that right-minded people are, increasingly, calling for. Any innovation is on their terms and, first and foremost, for their benefit – destructive creation.

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Interdependence:: Seth on civilization


I am a long time admirer of Seth Godin and, yet again, he doesn’t disappoint…

We don’t need more stuff. We need more civilization. More respect and more dignity. We give up a little and get a lot.

The people who create innovations, jobs, culture and art of all forms have a choice about where and how they do these things. And over and over, they choose to do it in a society that’s civilized, surrounded by people who provide them both safety and encouragement. I’m having trouble thinking of a nation (or even a city) that failed because it invested too much in taking care of its people and in creating a educated, civil society.

via Seth’s Blog: Civilization.

But, as I am sure you will have realised – if you think at all about these things and how we might begin to resolve some of the issues that blight modern society – this is hardly original thought.

Similar messages can be traced back through literature for two thousand years and, more frequently these days, are being validated by scientific analysis of the behaviour of complex systems: the most successful and resilient systems are highly INTERDEPENDENT.

More recent references can be found in, the late, Steven Covey’s famous book, “7 Habits…” but this is what Ghandi had to say on the subject…so you know he wasn’t just another person queuing up to take a pot-shot at the 99%!:

“Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality. If man were so placed or could so place himself as to be absolutely above all dependence on his fellow beings he would become so proud and arrogant as to be a veritable burden and nuisance to the world…”

Tim Harford:: Trial, error and the God complex I TED Talks


We don’t know what we don’t know and, even though we know that we don’t know, we STILL don’t want to know!!!

A standout lecture from Tim Harford that would benefit little from some dull introduction by me! I couldn’t help but note some words and phrases that sprang to mind as I enjoyed this video…it isn’t a complete Iist nor is it in a precise order just what I could remember! So feel free to contribute

THE BEGINNING: information – simplicity – system – interdependence –complexity – biology – survival – adaptability – empathy – iteration – fractal – scale – physics – risk – evolution – fallibility – innovation – politics – learning – statistics – correlation – transparency – assumption – uncertainty – psychological denial – mathematics – critical complexity – release* – simplification: THE END or another BEGINNING…   Read more of this post

Risk Management:: we have one history but multiple futures – can we “fix” it?


OK, so, in Economics and Finance we hear a great deal about “models”. Despite the obvious and much written about, failings, great store is put in their accuracy and ability to predict…even though, we already KNOW that, meaningful prediction about future events, based upon past events and outcomes, IS NOT POSSIBLE! 

We are [still] in crisis and surrounded by increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity: most of it of our own making.  The need for CHANGE, to give us hope worth clinging to, is even more pressing. But…

…we can’t begin to rebuild trust, an industry or economies without reliable tools:

Financial and Political mismanagement, misinformation, manipulation and mis-selling brought us to this point and mere rhetoric about “change” cannot mask these facts!

TRUST needs a foundation: the failure of past models, techniques and tools tell us that, without TRANSPARENCY, we need evidence from those that claim the ability and desire to (re)build a RESILIENT and SUSTAINABLE future.

One in which the integrity of the entire “structure” is ROBUST from the bottom up, or inside out [i2o].

Complexity Economics


dgw complexity science logo

Let me declare that I am no expert but  those responsible for policy, legislation and regulation have no excuses.

“Classical” economic theory is based upon concepts such as rational decisions and stable equilibrium whereas, unless I am making a complete idiot of myself, REAL economic systems do not achieve “static equilibrium” and are inherently unstable. As for rational…I’ll leave you to make up your own mind!

So, whilst there is a huge industry dedicated to financial prediction of one sort or another I can’t help wondering WHY!?

I am not comfortable with the thought of nations or Corporations wasting money in trying to predict the future but the chances of my voice (even though not entirely alone) making any difference are about as long as the chances of some highly paid economists or quants accurately predicting the economic future. So the best that I can do is attempt to educate and assist those businesses whose leaders no longer trust financial or political institutions, question the practice or recognise the sheer folly of such exercises!

It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it and I feel compelled to give it my best shot!!!

Getting my head round complexity has only reinforced my belief that investing in prevention and getting “Fit for randomness” is the most sensible strategy in the face of risk and uncertainty (whether natural or man-made). Quantitative Complexity Management, from Ontonix, enables a business to measure and manage the internal interdependencies and external inter-connectedness of its company ecosystem. We extend the “risk horizon” into areas of (epistemic) uncertainty and, in doing so: Read more of this post