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February 09, 2009



Well, we techies are generally willing to help; but we suffer from the worry that we might be chastised for public participation. Either by the managers in the corporations we work for; or by the representatives of the governments that govern us; or by rich people with competing views of the world who might exploit the 'legal system' to force us to pay them all our cash, or to spend all our time defending ourselves.

All of those forces drive a 'coin-operated' mentality; pay me and I will deliver engineering advice.

That isn't necessarily good 'for the world'. Should there be a safety valve ?

I've deliberately posted this anonymously because I don't want any 'comeback'; the points need making, but I think they are fairly general and they are not intended to be disparaging of any particular corporation, government, or rich person.


I recall working at Research when the community stood up and disagreed with management. We were simply told to look at Murray Hill to see where IBM Research was headed. A reduced focus on research and investment for the future.

Well we have arrived at your destination minus thousands of qualified individuals that one keeps hearing the need for in Scientist and Engineers. While you push for more H1 visas while laying off your own.

There is no need to look outside the windows of the North corridor to find you answer, it resides inside.

Stuart Anderson

The technical community have pointed out the inadequacy of the foundations of "financial math". For example, the very accessible account in: B. Mandelbrot and R.L. Hudson, The (Mis)Behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward, Basic Books, New York (2004) (xxiv + 328 pp., ISBN 0-465-04355-0).

There are also many good examples of how earlier "highly improbable failures" (e.g. the failure in 1998 of Long-Term Capital Management - run by Nobel Economics Laureates) evoked an inadequate response from the Financial establishment. See, for example, Donald MacKenzie's very accessible article on the LTCM failure:

Both these authors are unusual - Mandelbrot is a "maverick" and MacKenzie works across disciplines - mathematics, sociology, history, economics. They, and many more, already work in the space you suggest we need to develop.

The technical community have been warning of the potential for catastrophic financial failure for at least a couple of decades - but the financial community weren't listening.

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