Being Precise.

Using the same computer and the same program and the same data there was a different result. How can that be? Was I responsible?
It was the IBM Shell computer which I had just updated the IBM operating system as bugs in the data-base processing had been fixed up. Shell had a big computer with 64K while Caltex and BP had only 32k. That meant that Shell had the responsibility for doing the refinery planning using IBM’s Linear Programming Package which required at least 44k. The oil companies shared the one oil refinery. The package would find the optimum output for the refinery operation given a number of technical constraints.
The constraints could be represented by a polygon in many dimensions in which the answer would reside at an extremity to maximize the profitability of the output. The program would climb up the edges of the imaginary multi-dimensional polygon choosing the best route until it could go no further giving the best result while just staying inside the limiting polygon. A lot of number crunching is involved best described as matrix calculations. When doing divisions in a computer the results are usually imprecise as the results get truncated losing a little precision on the way. The program kept storing up a list of numbers called eta-vectors. These would be used in a matrix re-inversion process to catch up the lost precision. Because the new operating system took up more memory this matrix re-inversion happened at a different stage and a different choice was made in the edge of the polygon to follow and thus end up at a different answer. Nobody in NZ was specialised enough to understand all this but the Shell headquarters in The Hague promptly telexed up the explanation. In the original printout there was an A which was disregarded. It was a message to say that there was a valid alternative solution which we uncovered in the second run of the optimization. Panic over! I have kept the telex as a souvenir. I think this something to remember with computer modeling, precision can be lost.

Information Property.

The internet giants have found ways to get wealthy from internet users. They extract information about us from our use of the internet and monetise it by exploiting what they call big data to select what information and advertising is fed back to us. It is used to manipulate our opinions. My thought for the day is that we are entitled to take back ownership of our own information.

In most societies we have a right to have property and have those rights to be protected. Our information should be respected as our exclusive private property. It is property that has a special quality in that it can be shared without loss. But our property sharing it should up to us. It is reasonable for the state which should be operating in our collective interest to have a right to have a share of our information. It needs some of that for instance to register births, deaths, and marriages and to provide a passport to infer our protection in foreign states. In the interests of security, the state endeavours to protect our information as it should.

When we go to a medical doctor, she may gather information about our self that we did not know. That information about us should be our property still. That doctor should not be able to provide that information property to other bodies without our consent. The same must apply to any of our information collected by those we have any transaction with and share information with. It is perfectly reasonable for a business with whom we have a transaction with, to receive some of our information such as where to deliver to in the case of a purchase. But in having our personal property that business should have an obligation to protect our information. It should not be able to sell our information or provide it without our consent. We should have the right to be paid for the provision of our information property to any entity that just happens to want it.

I have made a habit of demanding a payment for providing my opinions to survey approaches. I haven’t ever got any agreement to be paid. Survey requests come to end very quick. Back in June 1988 I went to an auction of the assets of a bankrupted firm that I had some dealings with. When their mailing list was put up for bids, I disputed the right of my information to be sold. It was my property and I had not given any agreement for the sale of my property. The final bid of $2000 may have been affected by my interruption. At least that information was not used to market to me.

Our property right to own all our information should be recognised in law and inadvertent collectors of our information should not be able to exploit our information. Sharing of our information property should be up to us. If our information has value then it must be our right to have recompense.

DeSkilling.

DE-SKILLING TECHNOLOGY.

That strange plant, what is it, pull out your cell phone and use the app that will tell you what it is. Our ancestors had an extensive knowledge of plants and what they could be used for. The dependance on an app shows that we are more ignorant than our ancestors. The same de-skilling is shown when we have to use an app pointed at the sky to tell us what stars our ancestors knew well. Now athletes use technology to track themselves and not depend on any skill.
This de-skilling through the dependence on technology has been a long trend. When clocks were invented and clock towers used to display time led to a dependence on clocks for time when once people could actually judge the passing of time and were free from the regimentation imposed by clock time.
Once upon a time explorers did not take TV crews with them but artists who could document their trip with very accurate drawing. That is a skill that has passed into history with the development of photography.
The typewriter and word-processing computers have eliminated the skill of writing, both the graphic side and composition.
Arithmetic skills have been eliminated by the dependance on cash registers and hand held calculators. This is just the start of skill elimination considering the use of computer aided design and engineering tools.
Financial skills have been replaced by financial computer apps and robo advisers.
Real cooking skills have been replaced by internet recipes and cooking demonstrations.
The real skills of musicians and public speaking have been devalued with the dependance of microphones and loud speakers.
Spacial awareness has been reduced by maps continuously presented by various technologies.
Many teachers on outdoor trips find that many children do not know how to wash and dry dishes at the camp because they are used to machines that do the washing. Computer drills have taken the place of skilled teaching.
Perhaps the worst of all is the de-skilling of socials skills by the dependance of young people on the internet social media. The effect of children’s use of I-Pads is:1. A lack of creativity, 2. A lack of curiosity and passion, 3. A lack of patience, 4. Lack of exercise, 5. Decreased test scores, 6. Lack of human connection.