"The Numerati" is an exploration of the ways math and data are influencing the world, and what that might mean for business and for our privacy.
I thought one of the most interesting takeaways is that number-crunchers are working toward a world in which each real human can be modeled electronically, representing a multitude of characteristics. This model will be used to predict how the person will behave in various contexts -- economic, social, political, medical."
At last I thought there might be a Stephen King book I could enjoy. I avoid the supernatural fiction he's known for, but I thought a time-travel story would give me an opportunity to sample his writing in a content genre I could stomach. Unfortunately, this book was so filled with profanity I couldn't make it through the whole thing. Too bad -- it started out as an interesting story. Can't recommend it for anyone who likes a good story but doesn't want to have to listen to the obscene language some people think is normal.
Great premise about an artificial intelligence that arises on the Internet. Unfortunately, the author tries way to hard to push personal agendas. The novel is very talky with a lot of tiresome soapboxing from an evolutionistic perspective.
An engaging and useful look at randomness. A good education on the history of the study of probability.
One important takeaway is that as humans we can deceive ourselves -- we often think we are experiencing a pattern when in fact we are experiencing a random event that had to happen to somebody or was bound to happen to us sometime or other.
As I sometimes say, When all the lights are green it's easy to think God is on your side.
A pretty scary book by one of the most scarily erudite people I've every run across. A true eye-opener about the hazards of prediction in a world where so much is unpredictable.
One key takeaway is the distinction between what Taleb calls "Mediocristan" and "Extremistan."
The idea here is that some things in the world fall into the predictable, bell-curve-type occurrences that can be observed in the physical world -- Mediocristan.
But when it comes to human behavior and society, Taleb maintains, we are living in Extremistan -- the unpredictable realm where black-swan random occurrences are the rule. Taleb reserves his greatest contempt for economists who pretend they can predict what's going to happen in the world.
In his epilogue, Taleb discusses what he thinks we can individually do to cope with the increasingly unpredictable world we live in. One takeaway for me (I think) is that we can't predict the exact black swan that will occur, but we can take actions to minimize the harm these kinds of Extremistan events will do to us.
To Taleb that advice speaks to investments. His advice is to place most of your savings in treasury bonds and then small bets in high-risk venture-capital-type investments
For me, it speaks to the value of preparing now for possible disasters of all kinds. For example, it makes a lot of sense to have a "jump-kit" packed and ready to grab and go in case of natural disaster and evacuation. T-bills have their value, but in an emergency so does t-paper.
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