Perthblog

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.

Could black holes be a source of clean energy?


Did you see that astronomers have found tens of thousands of black holes at the center of the Milky Way? We used to think there was just one, albeit very heavy. There are black holes that have the mass of an entire galaxy and are growing at unimaginable rates. And they don’t just come in singles or even six-packs. They come in swarms!   So is the M...

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Can AIs suffer from mental health issues?


So the movie “2001 – A Space Odyssey” has just been re-released. I saw it when it was first released and I didn’t understand it even then. No doubt I will be none the wiser this time around. But one thing still sticks in my mind; HAL, the mission computer had a bad case of mental ill-health.   “2001” was a prescient work in so many ways. I think th...

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China has just leapfrogged the US in a big way


I just arrived back from one of my regular business trips to China. Here’s my tally: air pollution is even worse, water in rivers is filthy. Yet the built environment is even more impressive and the Chinese people have made giant steps forward over their American and European counterparts in the convenience of their lives. How so?   It’s called WeC...

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What if exercise and brain training don’t help Alzheimer’s?


  I recently read an obituary of someone the town in which I live. He had died from complications of Alzheimer’s at the age of 73. What had caught my attention and stimulated my curiosity was that he had been a runner.   I’m a runner too so I read the lengthy obituary just out of curiosity about the rest of his life, and yes, what sort of life had ...

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Could gene editing solve the online privacy and security problem?


Facebook has been roasted lately due to its user privacy issues, not to mention its hosting of those infamous fake news feeds. No good deed goes unvarnished…   But I guess they’re not the only ones to have that problem: how about the Federal Office of Personnel Management where 4 million personnel records were stolen by hackers, including probably ...

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Are viruses the biological equivalent of dark matter?


Did you get the flu? I was so lucky, I got it twice! So lots of stuff about influenza in the news. Other than that, how could you ever get excited about it?   Influenza is a virus. Everyone knows that too. Nothing exciting there either, right?   But what if there were many more of the little critters than we had imagined? What if they were literall...

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Space is actually for making ourselves more beautiful


Did you notice the news about Scott Kelly, the US astronaut? His DNA changed while he was in space, 7% of it to be exact. Actually it turns out that the report wasn’t quite correct; in fact the way his DNA was expressed changed for 7% of it. Whatever, his body changed.   How so? Well for a start he got 2 inches taller (but that was temporary). And ...

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Self-driving cars – just blame the victim


So now several people have been killed in accidents in self-driving cars. What gives?   I’ve been driving for many years but I don’t regard myself as a good driver. For one thing I've got poor eyesight. I get easily confused at night and sometime in heavy traffic conditions. Here are three of the driving situations in which I feel most uncomfortabl...

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Is free trade obsolete?


So we’ve had a little excitement about the US imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum and now we’re into a global frisson about the possibility of a global trade war. As we know, they lead to depressions, or so it is said. But here’s the question I want to ask: if a world has declining population growth rates, does free trade still promise the same ...

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What’s really inside black holes?


Stephen Hawking is dead and we will all miss him. One of the reasons for missing him is that he really was responsible for popularizing black holes. Now any Tom, Dick and Harry can toss the term around, talking knowledgeably about singularities, black hole horizons and information loss. All way above my pay grade. But I have a question. What is ins...

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Is authoritarian leadership inevitable?


We’ve just seen China approve a lifting of term limits on their leader, an epochal decision. Clearly there’s a move to authoritarian leadership globally. As well as China there’s the usual suspects like Russia, Belarus and North Korea, but now there’s some new/newish members of the club including Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Venezuela, Malaysia and Mya...

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How about “Nuclear Winter Olympics” World War 3 playoffs?


We’ve just had the latest Winter Olympics in South Korea. Of course it was overshadowed by the nuclear threats hurled at each other by the US and North Korea. Olympics are supposed to be about peace but this clearly wasn’t a very peaceable atmosphere. Now the Dear Respected Comrade is on an ostensible peace offensive, let’s see how long that lasts....

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Exercisers are the new 1%


  So many articles about how good exercise is for you that it’s become positively nauseating. Even a confirmed curmudgeon like me can’t find anything wrong with it.   Yet the CDC says that only 20% of adults actually meet their do-good exercise guidelines (both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity). That means that 80% of Americans don’t do en...

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Is blockchain a bubble – and compromised too?


  Recently I have attended three conferences on widely divergent topics. Every one of them featured blockchain and what everyone was going to do about it and with it. It seems that the contemporary standard for demonstrating your innovativeness is showing you are into blockchain.   Blockchain is, according to the banks, going to transform the finan...

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The first Tesla on Europa?


The amazing Musk has done it again with the Falcon Heavy! Is it possible he did even more than he told us?   According to news reports the original SpaceX launch plan was to get into Mars’ orbit, but the space module overshot and is now on its way to the asteroid belt, where it would presumably be lost. Such a pity.   Hmm now let me see. Overshoot?...

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Will quantum bitcoins be free?


Now bitcoin and other digital currencies have been cratering. Does that spell their end? Nope, not at all, maybe quite to the contrary. There’s a new game in town for crypto-currencies. It’s called quantum computing. We’re now well into a new arms race for the most powerful quantum computer. IBM has just upped the ante with a 50 qubit quantum compu...

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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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Dinosaur DNA on Mars?


Now the Falcon Heavy engines from SpaceX are about to be tested, the idea that humans are going to colonize at least some of the planets in our Solar System is now starting to actually look credible, even imminently so. And so of course we are all waiting with bated breath to see if we will find ET once we get there. The scientific consensus is sta...

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We urgently need a Manhattan Project for Alzheimer's!


Here’s some really bad news. Pfizer has just terminated its work in developing a drug to cure Alzheimer’s. Obviously Pfizer has thrown in the towel. Here’s some more grim news: Axovant has just announced that’s its Alzheimer’s drug just failed its trials. There have been a long series of failures in this area (“The List of Failed Alzheimer’s Drug T...

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Is innovation a disease?


Bitcoin, ICOs, blockchain, fintech, CRISPR+20, RAS, gene splicing, XNA, SpaceX, Hyperloop, the Boring Company, algorithms, AI, Siri, and so on and on and on… Incubators, accelerators, innovation hubs, skunk works, Chief Innovation Officers, innovation catalysts, learning to be an innovator, blah blah and so on and on and on… People glued to their s...

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