Daily Archives: May 27, 2016

The Secret to Innovation Is Our Collective Brain

BOOK REVIEW

The secret of our success: How culture is driving human evolution, domesticating our species, and making us smarter, Author: Joseph Henrich.
My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions, Author: Alfred Russel Wallace.

By Connair Russell and Michael Muthukrishna – Innovations occur when previously isolated ideas meet. From the innovator’s perspective, it’s an independent discovery, but from the perspective of the collective brain, it is an inevitable consequence of spreading ideas that converge across an entire social system—a veritable “marketplace of ideas.”

Three key factors driving the rate of innovation:

  • sociality:
    Sociality refers to the degree to which society facilitates connections between people. Larger, more interconnected societies will have higher sociality, resulting in everyone being exposed to more people and more ideas.
  • transmission fidelity:
    Higher transmission fidelity means more information is transmitted when people learn from each other.
  • cultural variance:
    Cultural variance refers to the variety of ideas that are created and tested.

From blue collar to white collar jobs, from the media we consume to expectations for self-presentation, the processes of cultural evolution are making society more complex. The modern educational institution emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution; we are currently going through the Information Revolution—a revolution of at least equal importance.

All the while, the collective brain is making each of us smarter. more> http://goo.gl/JVcNfd

How Norway Dispels the Private vs Public Sector Myth

BOOK REVIEW

Complexity and the Art of Public Policy, Authors: David Colander, Roland Kupers.

By David Sloan Wilson and Sigrun Aasland – A strong state capable of building infrastructure is not enough. It must also be an inclusive state that works for the benefit of everyone, as opposed to an extractive state that works only for the benefit of an elite few.

Inclusiveness requires a balance of power among the various sectors of the society.

Perhaps the Nordic nations work well for this reason also—strong states working collaboratively with a strong private sector, strong labor unions, and a strong, well-informed, and trusting electorate.

The so-called Nordic model can be illustrated as a triangle consisting of three interlocking factors:

  • Aa strong tax-funded welfare state providing education, healthcare and social safety nets.
  • An open market economy with active monetary and fiscal policies to ensure stability, distribution, and full employment.
  • Strong collaboration in an organized labor market with coordinated wage formation and company-level collaboration.

A collectively bargained and compressed salary structure means that low-skilled labor is relatively expensive while high-skilled labor is relatively cheap.

Since high-skilled labor complements technology while low-skilled labor substitutes technology, three things happen. more> http://goo.gl/gmJmsm

Beyond the RTOS: A Better Way to Design Real-Time Embedded Software


By Miro Samek – An RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) is the most universally accepted way of designing and implementing embedded software. It is the most sought after component of any system that outgrows the venerable “superloop.”

But it is also the design strategy that implies a certain programming paradigm, which leads to particularly brittle designs that often work only by chance. I’m talking about sequential programming based on blocking.

Blocking occurs any time you wait explicitly in-line for something to happen. All RTOSes provide an assortment of blocking mechanisms, such as time-delays, semaphores, event-flags, mailboxes, message queues, and so on. Every RTOS thread, structured as an endless loop, must use at least one such blocking mechanism, or else it will take all the CPU cycles. Typically, however, threads block not in just one place in the endless loop, but in many places scattered throughout various functions called from the thread routine.

This excessive blocking is evil, because it appears to work initially, but almost always degenerates into a unmanageable mess. The problem is that while a thread is blocked, the thread is not doing any other work and is not responsive to other events. Such a thread cannot be easily extended to handle new events, not just because the system is unresponsive, but mostly due to the fact that the whole structure of the code past the blocking call is designed to handle only the event that it was explicitly waiting for. more> https://goo.gl/k7OPPc

American secular

BOOK REVIEW

The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Author: Thomas Jefferson.
Notes on the State of Virginia, Author: Thomas Jefferson.
The Communist Manifesto, Authors: Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.
Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Author: James Madison.
The Origins of American Religious Nationalism, Author: Sam Haselby.

By Sam Haselby – What went wrong?

How did the country founded by visionary secularists, and that made historic advances in both religious freedom and the separation of religious and political powers, nonetheless become the world’s most religious political democracy?

Understanding secularism better helps to answer the question.

Secularism is not one simple thing; it has distinct theological, philosophical and political lives. Its theological and philosophical versions are formed from simple, if explosive, ideas.

In its political guise, ideas are less important than institutions, and it is on the shoals of institution-building that American secularism wrecked.

In theological terms, secularism is an Anglo-Protestant heresy that arose on the periphery of the 18th-century British Empire.

Prior to 18th-century Anglo-America – specifically revolutionary-era Virginia [2, 3, 4, 5] – no other modern society had sought to separate law, politics, social life and civic institutions from the divine.

It was, simply, only Protestants who systematized the idea of religion as a matter separable from the rest of life, a ‘private’ matter, in the well-known secularist formulation.

Because of secularism’s Protestant origins, its history must include the thought of Martin Luther [2, 3, 4].

The Virginians’ goals were in a real sense the opposite of Luther’s. They thought they were protecting the nation by separating politics from religion, protecting political society from the poison of religious passions.

Political life is where American secularism ran into a wall: It never even secularized American political life. more> https://goo.gl/E97RbC