Agile, a solution to yesterday’s problem

Published in Dictatorship

 just finished reading the very interesting book of Professor S. Girod from IMD, Resetting Management: Thrive with Agility in the Age of Uncertainty. I fully understand and support the idea that, in an uncertain world, companies, but also individuals should consider becoming more agile which for me means more flexible, better able to react to changes in their environment.

N. Taleb mentions this example of the life of a taxi driver as opposed to the life of a manager in a large company in the Black Swan. The taxi driver is of course a lot more flexible than the manager, because he is used to having days where he makes good money and days where he cannot cover the fuel cost. The well-off manager is probably a lot more confused, having reached his 50th and being fired suddenly having done nothing wrong, but having cashed the same salary month after month and lived accordingly. He is a lot more fragile than the taxi driver although he does not recognize it until it is too late (see the happy life of the turkey before it gets beheaded before Christmas, another N. Taleb example).

I also fully support the distinction between agility and agile methods. The methods are well, just methods that have to be used, can be used according to the situation and the goals that are pursued. Like any other methods, these are capable of delivering the expected results in specific situations and should be used accordingly.

I am just wondering if this focus on agility is not a focus on yesterday’s battles and if a new environment is not being put in place before our eyes that will request different solutions. It will not be tomorrow, but it may come quicker as one expects.

Indeed, my view is that we are slowly, but decisively moving from an environment characterized by a high level (growing level) of uncertainty to an environment that will be characterized by a very high level of certainty. This new environment will be seen as so certain that it will force us to rethink how we live, produce and consume. Limited uncertainty, limited risks that are below a certain threshold will disappear, because more and more aspects of our lives will be standardized, specified. Our freedom to make decisions will be limited, eliminated for our own good.

We will have to respect the standards, because the cost of not respecting them will be too high. Not respecting the standards will mean being left behind, left out of society. In this new world, the undefined future will disappear. It will look like an eternal present. We will somehow go back to the environment we knew before the 60th, where what to do, how to do was well understood and practiced.

In this “brave” new world, consumption will be simplified, because the “system” will say what to buy, when to buy and from where to buy to get the best value. This new world is of course perfectly in line with the environmental issues we have to solve. It will allow us to stop wastage. It will allow us to put a perfect planning system in place, a system that communist countries tried to put in place in the 20th century, but without success.

For companies, it will mean a completely new environment, an environment in which you can only survive if you deliver the best value (at the lowest cost, actually the marginal cost). It will not be any longer about understanding your customers, it will be about being registered as “the partner” on the application that will tell the individuals what to buy from where. As a result, if your push the reasoning to the limit, only a very limited number of companies may survive for each product/service/region they serve.

This new environment is already being put in place as just mentioned. The power of a very few companies is already creating monopoly situations and making market entry for others very difficult, even impossible.

These are some of the thoughts I write about in “La dictature des systèmes experts”.

Making the future certain will make us fragile, less resistant to big shocks that cannot be absorbed by the robust processes that we will have put in place. Do we want of such a future?

I would be delighted to read your comments.

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Human life duration has not really increased in the last two thousand years

Published in Dictatorship

Nowadays it is getting increasingly fashionable to listen to eternity doctors. They predict that, by respecting some relatively simple rules (eating less, training more, sleeping well…), it will be possible to increase human life duration possibly to the point of us becoming eternal.

I do not want to discuss the pros and cons of living eternally. Each of us can decide for himself. I guess, I do not want to live eternally in the body of a 75-year-old person, the age I may have if everything goes well until then, well in about 20 years.
 
What I want to discuss is the fact that, contrary to our perception, the duration of human life on earth has not increased during the past two thousand years and that there are no signs that it is happening or will happen soon.
 
The doctors in eternity, although all very clever, seem to make a mistake, willingly or not. They confuse life duration and life expectancy. Life duration has not increased. According to Pline (24–79 apr. J.-C.), who has written a chapter on the subject in his “Natural history” [1] », it was quite common to meet individuals that were more than 100 years old in antiquity.
 
What has changed is life expectancy. Indeed, as A. Ruggeri[2] mentioned it in his article on the subject, half of the young Roman or Grecs died before they reached 15 years old. The situation did not really change until the end of the 19th century. And this explains our mistake. We confuse life duration and life expectancy. Indeed, life expectancy has dramatically increased, from 35 years in antiquity to about 80 years or more in 2022.
 
This dramatic increase in life expectancy is mostly related to the diminution of the mortality of young individuals and has extraordinarily little to do with living healthily or respecting other rules.
 
It could be of course, that we are currently going through a phase of dramatic increase of life duration, but it is for sure not visible in the data.
 
To read more on the subject and understand how our behaviors are modified “for our own good”, check my essay (only in French currently) or follow me on:
 
 
www.open-borders.eu
 
I look forward to reading your comments and exchange on the subject
 
[1] Pline, L. (2021). Pline l’Ancien : Histoire naturelle : livre VII (traduction française). http://remacle.org/. http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/erudits/plineancien/livre7.htm
 
[2] Ruggeri, A. (2021). Do we really live longer than our ancestors? BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181002-how-long-did-ancient-people-live-life-span-versus-longevity
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Robot pornography

Published in Dictatorship

The position that I defend is that we increasingly live in an environment that prescribes, implements, and controls our behaviors. And that for our own “good”. Let us take an example. You most probably wear a connected watch. The watch reminds you that you must walk 10.000 steps a day. We can imagine in the next years, that if you do not take the prescribed number of steps, you will be punished, let us say, by an increase of your health insurance premium. This is of course for your own “good”.

This is in contradiction to the mainstream view that specifies that the censors that surround us are only present to predict our needs and deliver the necessary products and services that will quench our thirst. They are supposed to act as perfect parents that would bring a cookie to the child before he starts screaming. Indeed, good parents can feel signals in the behavior of the child that predict the growing anxiety or furor that precedes the screams and can react accordingly.

That the first part of the parent’s mission is on its way to being fully implemented in our world is I think a secret for nobody. The amount of data that we deliver daily, and its quality, makes it an easy game for the (expert) systems to predict our next move and deliver us the cookie before we know / understand that we need it. We are getting so used to receiving the cookie even before we ask for it, that we have issues adjusting to situations where the systems did not understand us correctly, or when external factors prevent us from getting the cookies. It could be that they got burned in the oven or that all the shops are closed and that we ate the last package the day before. We then start screaming like small children and ask for the help of the State, the government, the corporations to find a solution as soon as possible, to deliver this bloody cookie.

To follow up on the image, in my world, in my view, the parents will increasingly not only predict the behavior of the child and potentially know how to reduce his anxiety. They will also have the power to decide that the child has had enough cookies already and should be left screaming for his own good, because understanding frustration is part of growing up.

The delivery of cookies, of the right cookie according to my specific needs, has been the goal of the advertising industry for almost a century. We may like it or not, this is reality and the data that we offer to the system has only been making us more transparent, easier to read, easier to serve, increasing our nudity.

This first step is of course a condition for the next step. Nudity makes us more prone to accept the implementation of the second phase, the prescription phase. Making us naked puts us in a position of vulnerability that can then be profitably used by corporations and the government to decide for us.

A major issue here is of course to define what is our own “good” and who has the right to define it. In the case of the parents, their authority allows them to guide their children during their development phase. In our case, if we assume that we are grownups (this is of course only an assumption), should we let the benevolent State or powerful corporations decide for us? Should we even let the system define what is good or bad for humanity?

Another major issue is to reflect on our nudity and decide if we should not better wear some clothe, instead of becoming the porn actors of the robots and experts that surround us.

Finally, it is to know if we want to live in a world where the “adults” are considered small children and must be taught how to resist frustration after having been fed free cookies for several years.

We still have a chance to escape. In the image above, the robot is still pudically covering its eyes with its arm. It will not be long before it will convince us for our own good to perform at some orgies for its own pleasure.

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The end of the insurance industry as we know it

Published in Dictatorship

The role of the insurance industry has always been to protect us from random twists of fate. That is my health insurance was protecting me if I got sick, independently of me having any responsibility in getting sick. Similarly, my car insurance was protecting me against my driving mistakes unless I drove completely drunk or was texting while driving. By pooling the risks of a population, the insurance industry could spread the risks between the individuals and financing the costs relating to twists of fate.
The insurance industry has always tried to not cover individuals that were somehow attracting bad fate on themselves by choosing not to insure them. It has tried to skew the distribution of probability in the right direction, i.e. having the possibility to cash the insurance premium without having to pay excessive risk taking or bad luck attracting.
The situation is changing fast, due to the control systems that are put in place to standardise our behaviors. Increasingly, the players in the industry are offering to reduce the insurance premium to the individuals that accept to see their behavior put under control, who accept that data about their behaviors is collected, and that "good" behaviors are rewarded, and "bad" behaviors punished. As an example, you may get a discount if you obey the rules of law on the road and diminish your accelerations and hazardous breakings. Similarly, one could imagine a health insurance that will reward you by offering a lower premium if you train more in the fitness club, walk 10.000 steps a day or stop consuming specific foods or drinks. It could go as far as to refuse to offer you protection if you do not accept to standardise your behavior in your interest and the interest of society as a whole and of course the interest of the insurance industry that still get the premium, but not the risks.
This strategy is of course a short-term strategy. As the clients increasingly accept to adjust their behavior, the twists of fate will diminish dramatically. Indeed, the twists of fate are the result of the unpredictability of the future. If all our behaviors are standardized, then the future in its indetermination will disappear. The future will more and more look like a continuation of the present in its determination. The future will be the present, not because we will be able to predict the future, by using the tools developed based on the progress of artificial intelligence. It will be the present because the future will be prescribed and the consequence of each of our actions well known. This is what robust lean processes in production companies are supposed to achieve. Standard, robust processes to prevent the apparition of twists of fate. We could imagine that a similar thinking could be implemented at the level of society.
In such a society, the insurance industry would be condemned to disappear, after having been one of the major forces that would have been responsible for the disparition of the unpredictable future through the forced standardisation of our behaviors. Do we want such a future? Are we ready to abandon our freewill, our freedom to live as we want? Will we have a choice? Will we be expelled from society at large if we refuse the new rules of the game and be displaced out of the "civilized" world?

Looking forward to your comments and remarks

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We just have to choose to remember by Pierre Matile

Published in Freedom

 In memory to all the victims of atrocities in so many cities in so many periods in time. Their ghosts haunt our towns. I have been very impressed by the humanity of President Biden's speech for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre. His words resonates. We just have to choose to remember to prevent us from committing the same crimes over and over again.

The complete transcript of the speech is available on:
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That and Tupac by Trystan Mullins

Published in Frontpage

It was a summer afternoon in the heart of the city, the heat was almost unbearable. Most were taking shelter in the shade of there persianas, finishing a long lunch or already enjoying a little siesta.

My head pounded, sweat poored down my forehead and cheeks as I squinted my eyes, but I was there, alone and making the most of it. A light breeze made skating just about bareable to get through my flat land repertoire before feeling completely subdued and having to retreat back to the comfort of the shade. It was a challenging time of the day to skate but the peace and stillness I got from it were motivation enough for me to preserve. That and Tupac.

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