Category Archives: Information Theory

A History, A Theory, An Exaflood

My friendly UPS guy just dropped off two copies of James Gleick’s new book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. Haven’t anticipated a book this eagerly in a long time.

Will be back with my thoughts after I read this 500-pager. For now, a few of today’s high-profile reviews of the book: Nick Carr in The Daily Beast and John Horgan in The Wall Street Journal. And, of course, Freeman Dyson’s terrific essay in the NY Review of Books.

Quote of the Day

“I have only one project, one big idea: uncertainty. It crosses many different disciplines — math, political science, psychology, risk management — and I swing in between those, but it is always on what we call the epistemological question. There are two parts to this question: math and computation, and psychology. The second causes us to think we know more than we do. It is an endless topi. Bernanke has six problems: One, his education is in tools that aren’t helpful — and he doesn’t know it. Two, he studied the Great Depression, and he thinks he knows too much — this is nothing like the Great Depression. You can’t compare this and the Depression. Three, 99% of risk is tied to the debt/leverage and the explosion of connectivity. It’s like he did not see a truck coming right at him. Four, he has no notion of nonlinearities, and how monetary policies can be responsive in nonlinear ways. Five, he doesn’t understand fat tails. Six, he doesn’t realize that the biggest risk of failure is signified by the Federal Reserve: He thinks we need more regulation; we actually need smaller institutions. And not one person in Congress had the presence of mind to ask him these questions.”

— Nassim Nicholas Taleb, AI5000, Jan/Feb 2010