Thursday, January 22, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club "The invisible man"


The new and not improved whitehouse.gov has two Executive Orders up. One torturous document on ethics that in its very complexity could be used as a demonstration of what is wrong with government, human resource systems and the legal profession. The thought that the lawyers who get their jollies from such documents are “reforming” the financial system preemptively convinces me that they are doomed to failure.

The other is a directive on Presidential records and Executive Privilege that should be fairly strait forward. I contains a typographical error that places a reference to the former president in the passage that refers to the current president. With this crowd stumbling at the gate we are going to be in for a long four years.

@Wretchard That’s what I think this crisis is about: a failure of information. Whether it concerns the financial, economic, environmental or political systems, we’ve lived in fantasy too long.

Please allow me to indulge in a biological or information systems model that is well beyond my own qualification. Correct my errors please but this is the type of play that Belmont stimulates.

Perhaps the point of failure is only secondarily at the point of myth generation by adherents to the New or Alternative culture. That is where they flood the system with bad information. The problem is that they are primed to do so because their receptors were already set to screen out non-congruent data. For those more technically inclined than I am the model may be that not so much in hardware, a misdesigned receiver filter, as in firmware. A viral filter has reset the information intake to screen out threatening data and then the acceptable data that reinforces the prejudicial view gets replicated and redistributed.

The problem then becomes one of how to reset the firmware? That can happen after a severe enough shock reboots the system. Given that 9-11 was not able to do that I shudder to contemplate what would. We certainly do not want to passively observe a collection of data points in this experiment. What is needed is a targeted series of challenges designed to visibly get corrective information past the filters. The market should provide incentives to do so. The generation of false information is in fact rejected by the market, the box office of Syriana and the stock value of the NYT show that. However that does not mean that better information will be able to enter the market and get past the filters.

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