Frances Coppola makes some interesting points about dependency ratios, sparked by this article from The Economist. We often see charts showing the proportion of the population aged over 65 compared to those between 16 and 64, based on the assumption that the former aren’t working and the latter are. The trouble is, as Frances points […] Read more

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High tech risks are out there, and are potentially serious, but low tech risks don’t go away, and may be just as serious. For example, we learned recently that Edward Snowden managed to get hold of peoples’ user ids and passwords, giving him unauthorised access to some of the classified information that he then leaked. […] Read more

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Way back in July I wrote a review of The Banker’s New Clothes: What’s wrong with banking and what to do about it by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig for The Actuary magazine. The review has finally been published, but it’s hard to find on the website and doesn’t seem to have a permalink yet. […] Read more

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We often hear that Big Pharma doesn’t develop drugs that treat diseases generally found in the less well off parts of the world, because there’s no money in it. We also hear that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rampage, and that there’s no hope of outwitting them. OK, what we actually hear is that bacteria […] Read more

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You’d think that a really big software company, like Adobe, would know what it’s doing But no. You may have noticed that there was a big data breach: millions of usernames and (encrypted) passwords were stolen. But they were encrypted, so no big deal, right? Ah. Well. That’s the point. As this article explains, it […] Read more

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What’s the one piece of technology that no high tech company is without? Whiteboards. To my mind, a huge improvement over their low tech predecessor, the blackboard, but some disagree. They prefer the tactile feel of chalk: I hate the dust, and even thinking about the scraping noise of back of the blackboard rubber against […] Read more

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We’ve all come across signs of link rot, the phenomenon by which material we link to on the distributed Web vanishes or changes beyond recognition over time. In all cases it’s annoying to follow a link to a page that no longer exists, but sometimes it really matters. Jonathan Zittrain writes: We found that half of the links in […] Read more

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Why do things go wrong? Sometimes, it’s a whole combination of factors. Felix Salmon has some good examples, and reminded me of one of my favourite metaphors: the Swiss cheese model of accident causation. In the Swiss Cheese model, an organization’s defenses against failure are modeled as a series of barriers, represented as slices of […] Read more

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Antonio Fatas has some interesting things to say about the reliance of economic models on implausible assumptions. All models rely on assumptions and economic models are known (and made fun of) for relying on very strong assumptions about rationality, perfect information,… Many of these assumptions are unrealistic but they are justified as a way to […] Read more

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The next time you notice something being done in Excel where you work, take a moment to question whether it’s the right tool for the job, or whether you or someone in your organisation is a tool for allowing its use. No, not my words, but from the FT’s consistently excellent Alphaville blog. The point […] Read more

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