It’s easy to make a simple system complex; it’s pretty much impossible to make a complex system simple. All of us live in a world of contracts and lawyers — and the financial system much more than most. Financial regulation will become simpler the day that contracts become shorter and easier to understand, which is to say, never.
How has the financial-services sector managed to make an ever-greater proportion of total profits over time? By extracting rents from complexity… So while banks opposed Basel III, at least they got increased complexity out of it, which means that the barriers to entry in the industry were raised.
The announcement yesterday by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher to establish a needle exchange in the ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Prison is historic. Politicians need votes like the rest of us need oxygen. And they know that there are no votes in prisons. But prisoners are a major concern for public health and human rights.
Despite prison authorities all over the world doing everything in their power to stop drugs entering prisons, they still get in. And they always will. Charles Manson, the most closely-guarded prisoner in the Western world, was still able to obtain illicit drugs behind bars.
The right to have a view is indeed equally shared, but this is does not imply the same for the idea itself. If all ideas are equal, then all ideas are worthless…
[Ideas] should be subject to critical scrutiny and survive only though articulation and argumentation. The point is, ideas are not people. And people are not just their ideas…
To assume that an idea may not be questioned because it is a part of your identity, and that an attack on it is an attack on you, equivalent to a denial of human respect, is a fallacy, and I name it here the “Fallacy of Deepest Offence” (a variety of the strawman fallacy).
It is a blurring of the line between people and ideas. It is a device by which ideas are rendered immune to critical inquiry.
If you want to believe that the world is made of snow, that women are inferior to men or that homosexuality is morally wrong then go ahead. But the instant you take that belief into the public arena, your ideas will be rightfully tested.
The minute you suggest others should believe it too, you will be challenged. When you ask that the taxes of your fellow citizens support your beliefs, you will be resisted. This is exactly how an open society operates and should operate. You are not immune because you are sincere.
We need oblique approaches [to our goals] because we live in a world where our capacity for abstraction is limited, where our knowledge of our goals is achieved incrementally, and in which the world is characterised by an irresolvable uncertainty. In world’s that are characterised in these ways, prcesses of adaptation - evolutionary processes - are generally more effective than attempts to design and plan our way through…
Evolution/adaptation is smarter than we are… Through the process evolution and adaption you could actually construct things that are more complicated than any human intelligence could ever conceive of… That is how complex watches have been constructed. They are not the products of some original design. They’re actually the products of centuries of adaptation through the processes of watchmaking.
[T]he next time you go to a computer superstore, go to the voice recognition software shelf and pick up a box there that’s called the IBM ViaVoice. Now don’t buy it, but just look at it! They have a picture of the customer on the box, and it’s an administrative assistant who is sitting in front of her computer wearing a headset speaking rather than word processing.
You think about the value proposition that IBM has to be making to this woman. She types 90 words a minute. She is 99% accurate. If she needs to capitalize something, she just instinctively presses shift and cruises through. And IBM has to say, “No, don’t do that anymore. I want you to put this headset on and teach yourself to speak in a slow and distinct and consistent manner in complete sentences. If you must capitalize, you must pause, speak the command “capitalize,” pause, speak the word you want to capitalize, pause, speak the command “uncapitalize,” pause, please be patient, we are 70% accurate, this will get better we promise.”
So if you think which set of stories you end up hearing, you end up hearing the glamor stories, the seductive stories, and again I’m telling you, don’t trust them. They’re people using your love of stories to manipulate you. Pull back and say, “What are the messages, and what are the stories that no one has an incentive to tell?” and start telling yourself those, and see if any of your decisions change…
When we hear stories, should we be more suspicious? And what kind of stories should we be suspicious of? Again, I’m telling you it’s the stories that you like the most, that you find the most rewarding, the most inspiring. The stories that don’t focus on opportunity cost, or the complex, unintended consequences of human action, because that very often does not make for a good story.