Random or uncertain?

March 28, 2016

By  via andrewgelman.com   Article

What’s the difference between randomness and uncertainty?

“Julia Galef mentioned ‘meta-uncertainty,’ and how to characterize the difference between a 50% credence about a coin flip coming up heads, vs. a 50% credence about something like advanced AI being invented this century.

I wrote: Yes, I’ve written about this probability thing. The way to distinguish these two scenarios is to embed each of them in a larger setting. The question is, how would each probability change as additional information becomes available. The coin flip is ‘random’ to the extent that intermediate information is not available that would change the probability. Indeed, the flip becomes less ‘random’ to the extent that it is flipped. In other settings such as the outcome of an uncertain sports competition, intermediate information could be available (for example, maybe some key participants are sick or injured) hence it makes sense to speak of ‘uncertainty’ as well as randomness.

It’s an interesting example because people have sometimes considered this to be merely a question of ‘philosophy’ or interpretation, but the distinction between different sources of uncertainty can in fact be encoded in the mathematics of conditional probability.”

Enough jobs for everyone?

March 28, 2016

By Robert Romano via netrightdaily.com   Article

Is the era of economic growth ending?

“The average annual growth from 2006 to 2015 was 1.41 percent, the worst decade since the Great Depression. U.S. 10-year treasuries stand at just 1.75 percent. The consumer price index only increased 0.7 percent in 2015.

The working age population in the U.S. has certainly been slowing, and will be growing at an even slower pace for the next few decades.

The labor force participation rate for 16- to 64-year-olds has not been faring much better, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It peaked in 1997 at 77.37 percent and has dropped to 72.61 percent in 2015, accounting for 9.7 million people who otherwise might have been in the labor force since then but are not.

Note that excludes those of retirement age, correcting for drops in labor participation associated with Baby Boomers retiring. Yes, that has reduced the participation rate some, but so has the working age population exodus from the work force too.

What emerges is a spiral of slower growth, less asset price appreciation, lower interest rates and fewer jobs. … Is the era of growth ending? Never mind the degrowth movement. …

What is most alarming, however, may be the declines the U.S. is seeing in labor participation. Slower growth might be seen as a benign indicator if it still proportionately produced the same number of jobs.

But it is not, with the 16- to 64-year-old labor participation rate dropping to levels not seen since 1981 when women were still entering the work force. Slower growth has been toxic.

All this, after the U.S. has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in college educations with students with tens of thousands of dollars of debt predicated on the idea that there would be enough jobs for everyone. Well, there aren’t, every year it keeps getting worse and we need to start asking ourselves why.”

Personal mission statement

March 28, 2016

By Stephanie Vozza via fastcompany.com   Article

Personal Mission Statements Of 5 Famous CEOs (And Why You Should Write One Too)

“When Stephen R. Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People in 1989, he put a spin on the idea, suggesting that individuals create their own mission statement as part of his second habit: begin with the end in mind. …

‘If you want to be successful, you need to think of yourself as a personal brand,’ says William Arruda, author of Ditch, Dare, Do: 3D Personal Branding for Executives. ‘A personal mission statement is a critical piece of your brand because it helps you stay focused.’

Writing one, however, takes introspection. Arruda suggests asking yourself, what am I passionate about? What are my values? What makes me great? …

‘When you’re ready to write, Arruda offers a template that links together three elements: The value you create + who you’re creating it for + the expected outcome. For example: I use my passion and expertise in technology to inspire researchers to create drugs to cure rare diseases. …

Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company: ‘To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.’ …

Joel Manby, CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment: ‘I define personal success as being consistent to my own personal mission statement: to love God and love others.’ …

Oprah Winfrey, founder of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network: ‘To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.’ …

Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group: ‘To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.’ …

Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth.com: ‘To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.'”



Products don’t create value

March 28, 2016

By Pascal Finette via theheretic.org   Article

The Product Misconception

“We focus most of our time and effort on our product. We develop, test, iterate, pivot and polish, polish, polish. And yet – we easily forget the ground rule of building what matters:

Products don’t create value. Customers do.

A product is nothing without (paying) customers. Only once a customer decides to part ways with her hard-owned dough, will we create actual, realized value. …

Relentlessly focus on your customer. Find out what is important to her, how you can best serve her needs. And then fixate on delivering value on her. That’s the way you build what matters. Both for her and you.”


Where do you keep your ketchup?

March 21, 2016

By  via squawkpoint.com   Article

“It is a little known fact that people in the U.K. tend to keep their ketchup in the cupboard.  People in the States tend to keep it in the fridge. I know what you are thinking – ‘not me’ (it is a generalisation) and more importantly ‘so what?’ …

The ‘so what’ comes down to the way we tackle problems. If you are in the U.S. and you run out of ketchup you will reach for the next available alternative – say mustard or mayonnaise.  In the U.K. the alternative might well be vinegar or pickles.

We use our frame of reference when we solve problems.

So if you place an American and a Brit into the same ketchup crisis you will increase your chances of finding an acceptable solution.

Diversity is a powerful way to solve problems:

… If you are getting nowhere solving your problem then find somebody with a more diverse perspective.

There is a downside

Whilst diversity may well result in a better solution it is likely to take longer.  It is also more painful getting there. When we are working with people who see the world the same way as we do, it is easier, we come too far speedier solutions (though maybe not as creative).

If you have ever tried to explain to an American why we put vinegar on our chips (fries) you will know exactly what I mean.”

$1 trillion … and again … and again

March 21, 2016

By Pete Kasperowicz via washingtonexaminer.com   Article

National debt hits $19 trillion

“The national debt hit $19 trillion for the first time ever on Friday [January 29, 2016], and came in at $19.012 trillion.

It took a little more than 13 months for the debt to climb by $1 trillion. The national debt hit $18 trillion on Dec. 15, 2014.

That’s a slightly stepped-up pace compared to the last few $1 trillion mileposts. It took about 14 months for the debt to climb from $17 trillion to $18 trillion, and about the same amount of time to go from $16 trillion to $17 trillion.

The federal government has been free to borrow as much as needed for the last several years. Years ago, Congress passed legislation to increase the debt ceiling to a certain level of debt, and borrowing had to stop once that limit was hit.

But increasingly, Congress has instead allowed more borrowing by suspending the debt ceiling for long periods of time. That allows the government to borrow any amount it needs until the suspension period ends.

Back in November, the debt ceiling was suspended again, after having been frozen at $18.1 trillion for several months. As soon as it was suspended, months of pent-up borrowing demand by the government led to a $339 billion jump in the national debt in a single day.

Under current law, the debt ceiling is suspended until March, 2017, meaning the government can borrow without limit until then. Obama is expected to leave office with a total national debt of nearly $20 trillion by the time he leaves office.”

Stealing white

March 21, 2016

By Del Quentin Wilber via bloomberg.com   Article

“There’s white, and then there’s the immaculate ultrawhite behind the French doors of a new GE Café Series refrigerator. There’s white, and then there’s the luminous-from-every-angle white hood of a 50th anniversary Ford Mustang GT. There’s white, and then there’s the how-white-my-shirts-can-be white that’s used to brighten myriad products, from the pages of new Bibles to the hulls of superyachts to the snowy filling inside Oreo cookies. …

In the 1940s chemists at DuPont refined the process until they hit on what’s widely considered a superior form of ‘titanium white,’ which has been used in cosmetics and plastics and to whiten the chalked lines on tennis courts. DuPont has built its titanium dioxide into a $2.6 billion business ….

Starting in the 1990s, if not earlier, China’s government and Chinese state-run businesses began seeking ways to adopt DuPont’s methods. …

… John Carlin, the assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice’s national security division. ‘This is theft. And this—stealing the color white—is a very good example of the problem. … It’s about stealing something you can make a buck off of. It’s part of a strategy to profit off what American ingenuity creates.’

Most trade-secret theft goes unreported. Companies worry that disclosing such incidents will hurt their stock prices, harm relationships with customers, or prompt federal agents to put them under a microscope. … it’s often difficult to win a conviction for conspiracy to commit espionage. … China won’t even release the records or serve the subpoenas that might contribute to a prosecution. To win in court, companies must prove they properly safeguarded their trade secrets, something many fail to do.

DuPont/Chemours does shield its titanium dioxide process. Guards patrol its plants, which are surrounded by tall fences. Visitors have to be escorted and are forbidden from taking photographs. Documents and blueprints must be signed out, bags inspected. Employees sign confidentiality agreements and are relentlessly drilled on protecting proprietary information. Work is compartmentalized so that few employees have access to everything in a plant. The company vets all its contractors.”