I’ve been recently been working with the Centre for Risk Studies in Cambridge on some extreme scenarios: one-in-200, or even less likely events. It’s been an interesting challenge, not least because it’s very difficult to make things extreme enough. We find ourselves saying that the step in the scenario that we’re working would never actually […] Read more

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A few days ago I noted the difficulty of thinking in terms of dependency ratios: being economically active is a continuum, rather than black or white. There’s another side to the story, too. An aging population can provide opportunity, not only by producing products that appeal directly to a growing segment of the population, but […] Read more

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We all know that feeling: people are talking about something as if they expect you know what it is, or understand it, and you’re going to look really stupid if you admit ignorance. It’s a common phenomenon in all sorts of fields, not least when technical matters are concerned, as discussed in this article. Not long […] Read more

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It’s a commonplace that high-achieving women often suffer from the imposter syndrome — a belief that they do not deserve the success they have achieved. Athene Donald has some interesting posts about it in the context of academia. It’s also commonly observed that women tend towards self-deprecation. Sometimes it’s in jest, but not always. Lucy Kellaway […] Read more

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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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