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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There’s a bit of a furore going on at the moment: it turns out that a controversial paper in the debate about the after-effects of the financial crisis had some peculiarities in its data analysis. Rortybomb has a great description, and the FT’s Alphaville and Tyler Cowen have interesting comments. In summary, back in 2010 […] Read more

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Last autumn I was at an actuarial event, listening to a presentation on the risks involved in a major civil engineering project and how to price possible insurance covers. It must have been a GI (general insurance), event, obviously. That’s exactly the sort of thing GI actuaries do. The next presentation discussed how to model […] Read more

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Implicit bias

There have been a number of blog posts in the last week or so about a study that looked at implicit (rather than explicit) discrimination in hiring practices. Both Jenny Rohm and Athene Donald have had interesting things to say. The abstract says Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within […] Read more

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