Computer Science

Andrey Nikolayevich’s Rule

There is another, even deeper reason for our inclination to narrate, and it is not psychological. It has to do with the effect of order on information storage and retrieval in any system, and it’s worth explaining because of what is considered the central problem of probability and information theory.

The first problem is that information is costly to obtain.

The second problem is that information is also  costly to store–like real state in NYC. The more orderly, less random, patterned, and narratized a series of words and symbols, the easier to store that series in one’s mind or jot it down in a book so your grandchildren can read it someday.

Finally, information is costly to manipulate and retrieve.

With so many brain cells–one hundred billion–the attic is quite large, so the difficulties probably do not arise from storage-capacity limitations, but maybe just indexing problems. Your conscious, or working memory, the one you’re using to read this line and make sense of their meaning, is considerably smaller than the attic. Consider that your memory  has difficulty holding a mere seven digit long phone number.

Consider a collection of words glued together  to constitute a 500-page book. If the words are purely random, picked up from the dictionary in an unpredictable way, you’ll not be able to summarize, transfer, or reduce the dimensions of that book without loosing something significant from it. You need a 100.000 words to carry the exact message of a random 100.000 words with you on your next trip to Siberia.

Now consider the opposite: a book filled with the repetition of the following sentence: “The chairman of [insert here your company name] is a lucky fellow who happened to be in the right place at the right time and claims credit for the company’s success, without making a single allowance for luck”. The entire book can be accurately compressed, as I just did, in 34 words, out of 100.000; you could accurately reproduce with total fidelity out of such a kernel.

By finding the pattern, the logic of the series, you no longer need to memorize it all. You just store the pattern. And, as we can see here, the pattern is obviously more compact than then raw information. You looked to the book and found a rule. It is along these lines that the great probabilist Andrey Nikolayevich Kolmorogov defined the  degree of randomness; it is called “Kolmorogov complexity“.

— Nassim N. Taleb, The Black Swan

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.

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


25 Life Lessons from Albert #Einstein

1. Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.

2. Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.

3. Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.

4. If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.

5. A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.

6. Love is a better teacher than duty.

7. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

8. No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

9. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

10. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.

11. It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

12. Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.

13. Force always attracts men of low morality.

14. Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.

15. A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.

16. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

17. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

18. It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

19. Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.

20. Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

21. Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

22. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

23. Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.

24. Information is not knowledge.

25. Never lose a holy curiosity.

— Credits to


The life cycle of a technology

I Precursor

II Invention

III Development

IV Maturity

V Pretenders

VI Obsolescence

VII Antiquity

Subjective Experience

“The objective reality is the reality of the outside observer observing the process.

If we observe the development of an individual, salient events happen very quickly at first,

but later on milestones are more spread out, so we say time is slowing down.

The subjective experience, however, is the experience of the process itself,

assuming, of course, that the process is conscious.”

— Ray Kurzweil

images (2)

Einstein on paradigms

“We can’t solve problems by using thesame kind

of thinking we used when we created them.”

–Albert Einstein


I found this citation in a course related to sustainability and innovation.

This quote has a lot to do with the paragidm shift ideas mentioned here, here and here.

And this is the basic understanding to comprehend the theory of exponential returns that lead to singularity.

We are living amidst a revolution.

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.