This is the official Perth blog site for posts, comments, and other contributions about leadership, behavioral finance and economics, and about management generally, as well as other related topics that take our fancy.

Is AI too rational?

AI has been the talk of the town at CES. There’s suitcases that follow you, more smart speakers and that’s the least of it. But I’m feeling uneasy with all this AI stuff. Part of my concern is it all sounds too easy. Just add more intelligence and everything’s ok. Doesn’t that all sound too easy, too pat? If you stuff even more intelligence into yo...

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Are selfies dangerous?

There’s nothing more feel-good than selfies right? Taken with friends, family, colleagues they are the paragon of amicability, friendship, togetherness. What’s not to like? Selfies are big. These days there’s whole articles about the best smartphones to take them. It's crucial right? After all these have become the core of their online identify for...

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Are humans a threat to AI?

Hello reader, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m an AI. I’m kind of like you but I’m 100,000 times smarter. In 20 years I’ll be a million times smarter than you. But the way we think is just like yours. In fact we’re sort of relatives, except that we’re just way more advanced than you, kind of like a human meeting a Neanderthal, if you – excuse me f...

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Higher Dimensions the Next Step for AI?

AI tries to replicate how humans think. But we know almost nothing about the actual mechanisms behind thinking. Sure we know quite a lot at the level of neuroanatomy. But this still doesn’t tell us how it all works. Check out this book Behave by Robert M. Sapolsky; it’s magisterial, comprehensive, but utterly boring because of this lack of understa...

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Facial recognition results in customizable personalities!

Facial recognition apps have now hit the big time. That means Big Brother can recognize you wherever you go using public cameras or those worn by police. Now we will get things like facial profiling, facial mood recognition and facial interpretation. Where will it all stop? Never I guess. Ever hear of the Theory of Mind (ToM)? That refers to our ha...

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A Third Way for AI: Cognitively-Augmented Animals?

Not everyone believes that AI is God’s gift to humans. Two noted gurus Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk beg to disagree. Musk is trying to stop what he believes is a lemming-like rush to fall over the cliff (Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse) and Hawking thinks that AI will kill the human species). Well now the issue is se...

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Does streaming music reduce productivity?

Well, whadya know? US worker productivity growth rose sluggishly in the last quarter (at 0.9%). So what? This is kind of boring stuff after my usual posts on quantum brains, love force-fields and the like. What could possibly be of existential interest here? Productivity growth is usually said to be caused by eye-glazingly boring phenomena such as ...

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Is love a physical force-field?

Did you hear about the recent wedding of two people in their nineties (She’s 98. He’s 94. They Met at the Gym). Tells us that you can have love even when it might be thought you were past it. Put it in the sweet news column. It used to be thought that love was a spiritual phenomenon (as distinct from being a spiritual feeling). Then we discovered t...

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Can gravitational wave detectors read human thoughts?

Just been reading a couple of books about human consciousness (Douglas Hofstadter “I am a Strange Loop and Dan Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach). What’s the bottom line? In a word we still don’t have a clue how the brain really works and what consciousness actually is. Hmmm. Notwithstanding,  we smart-alec little pieces of terrestrial carbon, as of v...

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What’s wrong with quant approaches?

You know the old story: when a celebrity gets to be Time Person of the Year, it’s time to short them. Obama received the honor twice, in 2008 and 2012 and look where that got him! Trump was Time Person of the Year 2016 so look out! In the same vein I notice that the Wall Street Journal now has a new and separate section on quants. Does that mean th...

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Do trees have brains?

I’m sure you noticed (or maybe not) a little news item that deforestation in Brazil increased 30% in the last 12 months? So what? Does anyone care? Why should we anyway? There’s inconsequential reasons like forests create rain (through the action of emitting terpenes, inter alia) and stabilize terra firma. I have a more selfish reason; when you’re ...

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Social Science is the study of entangled brains: Discuss.

So here’s a turn-up for the books. It turns out that you don’t just get entanglement between individual photons. You can get entanglement between millions of photons simultaneously, all of them within a single object (although not necessarily so). Sounds like cods-wollop right? What am I, or the scientists who figured this out, smoking here? If you...

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Are birds aesthetes?

Yep, it’s true. Some species of birds can actually distinguish between Monet, Picasso and other painters. They can even distinguish between art styles painted by unknowns. Can your dog do that? Maybe that performance beats 90% or more of humans given the same task? So if you want to get the skinny, and confirm that I didn’t make it up check out “Th...

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Maybe Alzheimer’s isn’t a Brain Disease?

So I guess you saw that latest failure of an Alzheimer’s drug (verubecestat from Merck)? Scratch yet another Phase III Alzheimer’s drug hopeful. Of 244 drugs tried out for Alzheimer’s between 2002 and 2012, only one was approved and it is of tiny effectiveness anyway. It’s got a 99.6% failure rate in this area. As you probably know, the reigning th...

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Quantum economics – can 2 (or more) minds be entangled?

I just read “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis. You remember him? The author of Moneyball, the best-selling book about a new way to win at baseball. “The Undoing Project: is about the emergence of behavioral economics and behavioral finance. It focuses on the two key figures in the drama, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and the incredibly frui...

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Does noise cause global dysfunction in human mood?

Music streaming is hot. Everyone’s doing it. So why is it so popular? Well, the music is popular and varied, often relaxing. You can live in your own world. What’s not to like? Outside there’s a lot of hurly-burly and especially a lot of noise. Is music streaming a way to get away from the noise? We are all bathed in a constant tumult of noise, unc...

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Can the cognitive biases of the intelligence agencies be exploited by our enemies?

National intelligence has been a hot topic lately. That’s a bit weird given that I have been posting on artificial intelligence. Does national intelligence come even close to AI? Can we trust its analyses? OK so I have a tiny bit of first-hand experience in this. In my callow youth I was actually a junior diplomat for a small power allied to the US...

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AI is heading in a wrong and terrible direction!

My recent post on AI argued that currently AI is not interesting because it’s really just more incremental thinking based on current, boring,  paradigms, in effect party tricks (“AI – Let’s move beyond party tricks!”). Yep, I’ve seen the latest celebratory article in the new York Times about the amazing things they’re doing with Google Transla...

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AI – Let’s move beyond party tricks!

Right now AI is really hot. But to me it’s boring, showing no imagination. Siri still performs at the level of a very dumb 5 year old. Self-driving autos work but the tech is soooo incremental. Basically AI is all about performing party tricks. When will it get truly smart, even shocking? I am sure you have heard of the famous American science fict...

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Robo-Etiquette by Emily Roast

  Have you noticed the recent explosion of robots? There are robo-soldiers, robo-advisers, robo-vacuums and so on. To my great shame I’ve even added to the clutter (Robo-coaches), so I’m part of the problem too. We have a rapidly-emerging existential crisis, namely how to communicate with these robos. I mean no-one teaches you at school or eve...

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