Born Digital

The Narrative Fallacy

“You were able to see luck and separate cause and effect because of your Eastern Orthodox Mediterranean heritage.” And he was so convincing that, for a minute, I agreed with his interpretation.

We like stories, we like to summarize, and we like to simplify, i.e., to reduce the dimension of matters. The first of the problems of human nature that we examine… is what I call the narrative fallacy. The fallacy is associated with our vulnerability to overinterpretation and our predilection for compact stories over raw truths. It severely distorts our mental representation of the world; it is particularly acute when it comes to the rare event.

The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship, upon them. Explanations bind facts together. They make them all more easily remembered; they help them make more sense.
Where this propensity can go wrong is when it increases our impression of understanding.

The problem of narrative, although extensively studied in one of its versions by psychologists, is not so “psychological” something about the way disciplines are designed masks the point that it is more generally a problem of information. While narrative comes from an ingrained biological need to reduce dimensionallity, robots would prone to the same process of reduction.

Information wants to be reduced.

— Nassim N. Taleb, The Black Swan


Interesting to see that simplification lead to misunderstanding. Though makes a lot of sense, is so common and usual that, for some time during my teenager years, I thought that some of the inefficiencies found in my country were there due to the lack of sophistication of the Portuguese speakers thinking. For instance, Portuguese speaking countries are not the most developed, innovative places. May not be the worst of all, they still lack a lot of true good will, fair judgement and excellence during execution, specially in the public sector. We’re lazy, and we’re recognized for that (I feel shamed about it, just register). But it probably has little to do with the idiom per se, and more with the structure and organization of human brain, apart from society and government organization. You can change laws quickly, but it takes a lot more to change culture and collective behavior.

After all, we tend to create comfort zones, we tend to overvalue simplifications instead of true, deep and complex understanding. Again, thought it was an under developed societies’ trait. Not the case.

What really draw my attention was the fact that information wants to be reduced. In a general observation, makes sense. It makes even more sense considering all the abstraction we care everyday without questioning: car engines and urban pollution, water usage and scarcity, waste disposal and public health, government spending and citizens real needs. If we were able to track all this information at the lower level of granularity, life would be so complicated, so complex, that we would end up the way… we are. This considering the current mindset.

To understand what engine pollutes less, to chose it despite of its higher price, sound logical but not practical. To take care of water usage and consumption while not in a severe water rationing, is to much effort for everyday tasks. To carefully dispose waste and dump it correctly, ensuring its destiny far from our home, sounds too much of a task.
After all, why are governments there for?

But I don’t mean to be politically correct nor fair, I’m interested in the fact that we carry forward small mistakes bind in (wrong) facts and preconceived interpretations, and we do it for the sake of simplification, of easy understanding, of massification. Sounds like a huge breach to be explored by neutral, objective and powerful, Artificial Intelligence, as we sound very obsolete for such a long time.

On the Plumage of birds

Before discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seems completely confirmed by empirical evidence.

The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few orninthologists, but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It ilustrates a severe limitation to our edge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of swans.

All you need is one single black bird.

…What we call a black swan is an event with the following three attributes.

First, is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outliers status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact , making it explainable and predictable.

— The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It’s been quite some time since my last blog, and here I am again. This time I found in a book of economics to one more time show a property of technology. The unpredictability of the future is in part caused by the fast pace of changes, and by the fact that it gets faster every year.

Our mind (the physical part), as well as our mentality (the intellectual side), needs time to adapt to change, and from a certain point, we tend to believe that the old is better., –in other words, we get old — ignoring the evolutionary nature of change.
We’re are always adapting, and it’s been like that for the last centuries. In fact, our capacity to adapt is vital to our survival as species in such a hostile environment.

And from our evolutionary capacity, technology grows and evolves.

But I’d rather say that the point here is predictability. The capacity to foreseen with accuracy near term events. The capacity to use it to promote even further evolution, breaking paradigms at the same time creating conditions for improvement.

Flying cars, cyborg humans, artificial intelligence, ubiquitous connection, instant response are still part of our dream of a future, though much more reachable then ever. What surprises our predictive capacity are limitation of data processing, or the uncertainty factor. At some point, we have to abstract. We have to assume premises to make valid conclusions. And reality is a dynamic environment, moving to every side at every time. An uncontrollable number of variables is in place.

Soon artificial intelligence processing capacity of a single device will overcome the human brain in taking effective, good decisions, considering complex problems. In fact, machines will be better decision makers, risk takers than a regular person, like you and I.

In another time span, the same device will have processing power equivalent to all human brains combined, taking the decision making process to another level, as well as our belief and understanding of our own nature.
Are you ready for that?


The God Hypothesis

The God Hypothesis suggests that the reality we inhabit also contains a supernatural agent who designed the universe and maintains it and even intervenes in it with miracles, which are temporary violations of his own otherwise grandly immutable laws.

Richard Swinburne, in his book Is there a God:

What the theists claims about God is that e does not have a power to create, conserve or annihilate anything, big or small. And he can also make objects move or do anything else ,,, He can make the planets move in the way Kepler discovered  that they move, or make gunpowder explode when we set a match to it. or he can make planets move in quite different ways that chemical substances explode or not explode under different conditions from those which now govern their behaviour. God is not limited by the laws of nature, he makes them and he can change or suspend them — if he chooses.

Did Jesus  have a human father, or was his mother a virgin at the time of his birth? Whether or not there is enough surviving evidence to decide it, this is still a stricly scientific question with a definite answer in principle: yes or no.

Did Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? Did he himself come alive back again, three days after being crucified? There is an answer to every question, whether or not we can discover it in practice, and it is  a strictly scientific answer.

— Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

god delusion

Theories of the Brane

String Theory is the dominant approach right now, and it has some success already, but the question is whether it will develop to the stage where we can actually solve problems that can be tested observationally.If we can’t bridge the gap between this ten dimensional theory and anything that we can observe, it will grind to halt.

In most versions of string theory, the extra dimensions above the normal three are all wrapped up very tightly, so that each point in our ordinary space is like a tightly wrapped origami in six dimensions. We see just three dimensions, the rest are invisible to us because they are wrapped up very tightly.

If you look at a needle, it looks like a one dimensional object from a long distance, but really it’s three dimensional.

Likewise, the extra dimensions could be seen if you looked at things very closely. Space on a very tiny scale is grainy and complicated–its smoothness is an illusion of the large scale.

That’s the conventional view in this string theories.

An idea which has become popular in the last two or three years is that not all extra dimensions are wrapped up–that there might be at least one extra dimension that exists on a large scale. Raman Sundrun and I (Lisa Randal) have developed this idea in our work on branes.

According to this theory, there could be other universes, perhaps separated from us by just a microscopic distance; however that distance is measured in some fourth spacial dimension, of which we are not aware.  Because we are imprisoned in our three dimension, we can’t directly detect these other universes.

Lisa Randal on Theories of the Brane

The Universe,



Borge’s Map

“we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well”

Ubiquitous Sensing. The number of Internet-connected devices hit 8.7 billion in 2012. IP-enabled sensors are projected to exceed 50 billion by 2020. The number of sensors of all types is variously projected at between 1 trillion and 10 trillion between 2017 and 2025. The lower estimate translates to 140 sensors for every man, woman, and child on the planet.

Ubiquitous Connectivity. Mobile broadband subscriptions reached 2.3 billion in 2014—five times the number in 2008. The smartphone is the fastest-adopted technology ever; the biggest absolute growth is in India and China. At the end of 2014 there were nearly 7 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions globally—nearly one per person on Earth.

Convergent Data. The world’s production of data grew 2,000-fold between 2000 and 2012. Its stock of data is expected to double every two years; 99 percent of it is digitized and half has an IP address. This means that half of the world’s data can now be put together, at near-zero cost, to reveal patterns previously invisible. Half of the world’s data is already, technically, a single, universally accessible document.

borges map


earth 1


Why is called Earth if it’s almost entirely covered by water?

Because it is mainly a huge rock that travels along the space, with lots of water in its surface.

There’s water in the ground, water in the air, coming from clouds that brings rain, water everywhere, but in its core, under the lava and magma and dust that shape our mother’s personality, Earth is a rock, and Water is the biggest living thing surviving in this huge, vast and hostile universe we live in.

Everything else that lives on earth depends on Water, in a way or another, to exist. Water is THE holy grail when thinking about life in the known world. No philosophy, no limits, no fun, no power without Water everyday of life. You need Water. You are made of water.

Water rules at the face of Mother Earth, and so we, Humans, think we’re in control of our lives. Our ecosystem is in danger, our existence is in danger. Life is spread everywhere over Mother Earth, from underground to skies, from the bottom of the ocean to the vast cities of reefs that keep the balance of life possible. We now have to sacrifice ourselves in order to give back what we’ve taken in excess from our planet. Humans are known to be super predators.

What if God, the Sun, solves to burn with more intense, and by mistake literally fries all the water in this rocky planet?
Taking away all life that exists only in this remote corner of the galaxy. Our water would get dry at the pan this world would become, making living miserable, unbearable and then impossible. There’s no water at Venus and Mars, and so there’s no conditions to life exist with current level of technology.

What if water gets scarce?
Becoming something to be traded at black markets at poor countries, making life extremely hard and restricted.

Maybe Mother Earth doesn’t care for Humans. They are here today, they have to make their way in order to survive. It was always like that.
Evolution is a must for everything here. There’s a whole ecosystem trying to survive on its back.

Water is probably the deep root of a soul that survives trying to make life viable for many different species along billions of years.

Water loves life. We owe her all our respect.

We were right in calling the planet Earth.
Water needs Earth to exist as much as everything else.
Earth doesn’t need anyone.
It is used to survive in the middle (figuratively) of a hostile universe in front of a gigantic, power star.
Some name it God, some name it Sun.

Earth grew up alone, a long, long time ago, and it’ll die some day, as well as Sun and Water.

Guess who’ll die first?

Ethical axioms

Ethical axioms are found and tested

not very differently from the axioms of science.

Truth is what stands the test of experience.”

–Albert Einstein

Social Media Revolution

We’re living amidst a revolution.

This video is a commercial (too commercial) about a book (name in the end of the video), and social media is in fact part of the entire revolution sprectrum, but the data is really interesting and the music… amazing.

By the way, I’ve read the book.

Woody Allen

“Some people want to achieve immortality through their work or descendants.
I intend to achieve immortality by not dying”

–Woody Allen

Content is the King

Semantics, the study of meaning. Is part of the linguistics focussed on sense and meaning of language or symbols of language.  It is the study of interpretation of signs or symbols as used by agents or groups within particular circumstances and contexts. Semantics asks, how sense and meaning of complex concepts can be derived from simple concepts based on the rules of syntax. The semantics of a message depends on its context and pragmatics.

Syntax, as in grammatics denotes the study of the principles and processes by which sentences are constructed in particular languages.
In formal Languages, syntax is just a set of rules, by which well formed expressions can be created from a fundamental set of symbols, or alphabet. In computer science, syntax defines the normative structure of data.

Context denotes the surrounding in an expression. Its relationship with surrounding expressions and further related elements.
Contexts denotes all elements of any sort of communication that define the interpretation of the communicated content, general, personal or social content.

Pragmatics reflects the intention by which the language is used to communicate a message. In linguistics pragmatics denotes the study of applying language in different situations. It also denotes the intended purpose of the speaker. Pragmatics studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning.

Experience considers all information that you have learned and put in context with the world you are living in.