[OPE] Digital investor worlds

From: Jurriaan Bendien <jurriaanbendien@online.nl>
Date: Mon Jan 17 2011 - 13:24:52 EST

I agree, complex systems involve quantitative changes which cause
qualitative changes and repercussions which are difficult to oversee. NYT
ran an article today on information overload:

"Unprecedented amounts of raw information help the military determine what
targets to hit and what to avoid. And drone-based sensors have given rise to
a new class of wired warriors who must filter the information sea. But
sometimes they are drowning. Research shows that the kind of intense
multitasking required in such situations can make it hard to tell good
information from bad. The military faces a balancing act: how to help
soldiers exploit masses of data without succumbing to overload."

Computers don't have a morality permitting flexible judgements about moral
situations - they have at best a set of priority rules programmed into them
("if you strike X, do Y, and it that does not work, do Z"). Western
civilization seems to have lost its confidence in human potential and human
problem-solving capacities, and the idea in the NYT article is that excess
information harms the ability for good judgement. Mandel remained
optimistic, pointing to the fact that human intelligence cannot be matched
by computers except in limited areas of application. But perhaps the more
salient point is that human organization and indeed consciousness is altered
to fit in with computer logics.

I worked in records management many years, and then you realize "the biggest
problem is usually sitting behind the computer". Among other things, much
depends on whether the information inputted into a computer is actually
correct and valid. It may take only a very small error to create serious
database problems. I've also worked in survey design some years, and there
you realize not only how easy it is to fabricate nonsense data, but also
that practical human judgment by experienced people is absolutely essential,
since many of the necessary interventions defy program logic; they have to
bring together information at a specific point in time in a way for which no
program exists, and toggle between different "levels of abstraction" to use
Jerry's term.


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Received on Mon Jan 17 13:27:05 2011

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