Sunday, December 28, 2014

o3 wave art

This entry is reposted from 5/31/14 due to formatting issues.

When I was at Uchicago - obtaining an MSFM - my friend asked me about the nature of the o3 art image (i.e. the sinusoidal bluewave).  Here is my informal answer.

Applied Math & o3

Nothing has done more to render modern economic theory a sterile and irrelevant exercise in autoeroticism than its practitioners’ obsession with mathematical, general-equilibrium models.
          Robert Higgs

Math has transformed modern life.  It is the most pure science.  But sometimes pure science somehow fails us.  Here is a crude example: the Green Revolution.  It follows a common theme in modern (post-1500) world where humanity applies powerful science-based measures (hybridized seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides) to address a real problem (food scarcity), produces incredible results, and simultaneously creates new problems (pollution).  That is how I see science today.  It is beautiful and yet we repeatedly fail to address it’s tendency to blowback.

The why a third option? page* on the o3 website addresses this idea a bit more.  I put it best there: “Our decision methodologies have somehow not developed in step with our scientific and political innovations."  I would add that our moral and intuitive capacities have not grown with our scientific and political innovations. 

That’s all changing today.  We hope.  We are slowly re-embracing elder knowledge, group knowledge, Indigenous knowledge, consensus-building etc.  That is what the blue wave is about.  It’s about both acknowledging the beauty of our scientific achievements while also preparing ourselves to become more responsible about those achievements - it's an ebb and flow.

Science and the Information Age

It’s an age that has enormous promise, and it’s an age that is also very, very scary, because we literally don’t understand it.  This is like the invention of fire, or the beginning of time. It’s vastly more powerful than fire.  It’s vastly more powerful than nuclear energy.  It’s embedded in every single piece of equipment that we touch - and we literally don’t understand it.
          Robert David Steele Vivas, 2012

I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots.


I’m not sure if Vivas is exactly correct.  I’m still trying to determine my understanding of him but he seems like an unusual thinker.  On the amazing_works page of on the o3 website, you find a great link to him in 2012.**  (There is another one from 2011 and it’s part of why I blog: look at what he says about outing people even from the past.  Speaking truth is a force in the world.)

The Information Age presents amazing opportunities but it will require looking inward in ways that science has not required in the last 500 years - at least not of most scientists.  The best scientists have understood all of these ideas but they also likely felt the need to produce results and help people as best they could.  Now we need to do both - produce results and exercise wisdom.

(Perhaps I will revisit this subject; the use of science is a serious issue that deserve more attention.  I wanted to say a few more things about how 1) differential calculus is the underpinning of marginal analysis in economics and 2) the state of complex systems as an academic field and it’s ability to yield meaningful solutions to life’s practical questions.)


* The why a third option? essay was moved to the blog.

** Update (7-30-15):  The amazing_works page was taken down.   You can find Vivas's amazing Q and A sessions on Youtube.