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jerryking : unforeseen   8

Can Trump Handle a Foreign Crisis?
Feb. 7, 2019 | WSJ | By Peggy Noonan.

He’ll face one eventually, and there’s good reason to worry the administration will be unprepared.

Someday this White House will face a sudden, immediate and severe foreign-policy crisis..... past and present officials of this administration are concerned on how the White House would handle a crisis......History resides in both the unexpected and the long-predicted. Russia moves against a U.S. ally, testing Washington’s commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty; a coordinated cyber action by our adversaries takes down the American grid; China, experiencing political unrest within a background of a slowing economy, decides this is a good time to move on Taiwan; someone bombs Iran’s missile sites; Venezuela explodes in violence during a military crackdown; there’s an accidental launch somewhere..... historian Margaret MacMillan said ....“I think we should never underestimate the sheer role of accident.”....Everything depends on personnel, process and planning. The president and his top advisers have to work closely, with trust and confidence, quickly comprehending the shape of the challenge and its implications. There must be people around him with wisdom, judgment, experience. They must know their jobs and be able to execute them under pressure. Clear lines of communication are key between both individuals and agencies.....keep their eyes on the million moving pieces, military and diplomatic, that comprise a strategy.......During the Berlin airlift, thought at the time to be the height of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who’d been Army chief of staff during World War II, was asked how worried he was. “I’ve seen worse,” he replied. He had. ......“No administration is ready for its first crisis,” says Richard Haass, who was a member of George H.W. Bush’s NSC and is author of “A World in Disarray.” “What you learn is that the machinery isn’t adequate, or people aren’t ready.” First crises trigger reforms of procedures so that second ones are better handled. ......There is no way, really, to simulate a crisis, because you don’t know what’s coming, and key people are busy doing their regular jobs. And all administrations, up until the point they’re tested, tend to be overconfident. What can they do to be readier? Think, study, talk and plan.....For a modern example of good process, personnel and management, there is the Cuban missile crisis. .....the stakes couldn’t have been higher.......It might be good to have regular situation-room meetings on what-ifs, and how to handle what-ifs, and to have deep contingency planning with intelligence, military and civilian leaders discussing scenarios. “Put yourself in a position,” says Mr. Haass, “where you’re less unread when a crisis does occur.”.......Margaret MacMillan again: People not only get used to peace and think it’s “the normal state of affairs,” they get used to the idea that any crisis can be weathered, because they have been in the past. But that’s no guarantee of anything, is it?
adversaries  chance  contingency_planning  crisis  Donald_Trump  U.S.foreign_policy  JFK  Margaret_MacMillan  overconfidence  Richard_Haass  security_&_intelligence  unexpected  White_House  unprepared  accidents  Cuban_Missile_Crisis  luck  Peggy_Noonan  preparation  readiness  George_Marshall  normality  unforeseen 
february 2019 by jerryking
The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know WSJ
Nov. 26, 2017 | WSJ |By Christopher Mims.

1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’ Melvin Kranzberg in the 1960s. He became a technology historian. Prof. Kranzberg’s first law is also his most important. He realized that the impact of a technology depends on its geographic and cultural context, which means it is often good and bad—at the same time. (E.g. DDT, a pesticide and probable carcinogen nonetheless saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in India as a cheap and effective malaria prevention. Or, Facebook groups, serve as a lifeline for parents of children with rare diseases while also radicalizing political extremists. Tech companies' enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.....however, the dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,” (JK: tradeoffs) “To become spectacular at any discipline in technology means you’re not well-equipped to address these questions.”

2. ‘Invention is the mother of necessity.’ Yes, that’s backward from the way you remember it. It means “every technical innovation seems to require additional technical advances in order to make it fully effective,” In our modern world, the invention of the smartphone has led to the necessity for countless other technologies, from phone cases to 5G wireless. Apple’s cure for staring at your phone too much? A smartwatch to glance at 100 times a day.

3. ‘Technology comes in packages, big and small. To understand any part of a technological package requires looking at its interaction with and dependency on the rest of it—including the human beings essential to how it functions. While innovation destroys jobs, it also creates countless new ones.

4. ‘Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.’ “People think technology as an abstraction has some sort of intrinsic power, and it doesn’t,” “It has to be motivated by political power or cultural power or something else.”

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president, software engineering, spoke about differential privacy, which Apple says is a way to collect user data while protecting the individual’s anonymity.
More broadly, lawmakers are taking an interest in everything from privacy and data transparency to national security and antitrust issues in tech—more because of a shift in our culture than in the technology itself.

5. ‘All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.’ The Cold War led to the buildup of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth. That led to the development of a war-proof communication system: the internet..... But does that mean we owe the modern world to the existential contest between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.? Or was that conflict itself driven by previous technological developments that allowed Hitler to threaten both nations?

6. ‘Technology is a very human activity.’ “Technology is capable of doing great things,” .....how we use technology is up to us. The trick is, because technology generally reaches mass adoption via corporations, those businesses must think of the consequences of their actions as well as how they profit from them. When corporations don’t, regulators, journalists and the public sometimes do it for them.

As Prof. Kranzberg presciently noted at the dawn of the internet age, “Many of our technology-related problems arise because of the unforeseen consequences when apparently benign technologies are employed on a massive scale.”
anonymity  anticipating  Christopher_Mims  Cold_War  contextual  cultural_power  differential_privacy  high-achieving  necessity  nuclear  overachievers  political_power  privacy  problems  scaling  technology  tradeoffs  unforeseen  unintended_consequences 
november 2017 by jerryking
Mental bias leaves us unprepared for disaster
August 14, 2017 | Financial Times | Tim Harford.

Even if we could clearly see a crisis coming, would it have made a difference?

The 2004 storm, Hurricane Ivan, weakened and turned aside before striking New Orleans. The city was thus given almost a full year's warning of the gaps in its defences. The near miss led to much discussion but little action.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the city, evacuation proved as impractical and the Superdome as inadequate as had been expected. The levees broke in more than 50 places, and about 1,500 people died. New Orleans was gutted. It was an awful failure but surely not a failure of forecasting.

Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther in The Ostrich Paradox argue that it is common for institutions and ordinary citizens to make poor decisions in the face of foreseeable natural disasters, sometimes with tragic results.

There are many reasons for this, including corruption, perverse incentives or political expediency. But the authors focus on psychological explanations. They identify cognitive rules of thumb that normally work well but serve us poorly in preparing for extreme events.

One such mental shortcut is what the authors term the “amnesia bias”, a tendency to focus on recent experience (i.e. "disaster myopia" the human tendency to dismiss long-ago events as irrelevant, to believe This Time is Different and ignore what is not under one’s nose). We remember more distant catastrophes but we do not feel them viscerally. For example, many people bought flood insurance after watching the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina unfold, but within three years demand for flood insurance had fallen back to pre-Katrina levels.

We cut the same cognitive corners in finance. There are many historical examples of manias and panics but, while most of us know something about the great crash of 1929, or the tulip mania of 1637, those events have no emotional heft. Even the dotcom bubble of 1999-2001, which should at least have reminded everyone that financial markets do not always give sensible price signals, failed to make much impact on how regulators and market participants behaved. Six years was long enough for the lesson to lose its sting.

Another rule of thumb is “optimism bias”. We are often too optimistic, at least about our personal situation, even in the midst of a more generalized pessimism. In 1980, the psychologist Neil Weinstein published a study showing that people did not dwell on risks such as cancer or divorce. Yes, these things happen, Professor Weinstein’s subjects told him: they just won’t happen to me.

The same tendency was on display as Hurricane Sandy closed in on New Jersey in 2012. Robert Meyer found that residents of Atlantic City reckoned that the chance of being hit was more than 80 per cent. That was too gloomy: the National Hurricane Center put it at 32 per cent. Yet few people had plans to evacuate, and even those who had storm shutters often had no intention of installing them.

Surely even an optimist should have taken the precautions of installing the storm shutters? Why buy storm shutters if you do not erect them when a storm is coming? Messrs Meyer and Kunreuther point to “single action bias”: confronted with a worrying situation, taking one or two positive steps often feels enough. If you have already bought extra groceries and refuelled the family car, surely putting up cumbersome storm shutters is unnecessary?

Reading the psychological literature on heuristics and bias sometimes makes one feel too pessimistic. We do not always blunder. Individuals can make smart decisions, whether confronted with a hurricane or a retirement savings account. Financial markets do not often lose their minds. If they did, active investment managers might find it a little easier to outperform the tracker funds. Governments, too, can learn lessons and erect barriers against future trouble.

Still, because things often do work well, we forget. The old hands retire; bad memories lose their jolt; we grow cynical about false alarms. Yesterday’s prudence is today’s health-and-safety-gone-mad. Small wonder that, 10 years on, senior Federal Reserve official Stanley Fischer is having to warn against “extremely dangerous and extremely short-sighted” efforts to dismantle financial regulations. All of us, from time to time, prefer to stick our heads in the sand.
amnesia_bias  biases  books  complacency  disasters  disaster_myopia  dotcom  emotional_connections  evacuations  financial_markets  historical_amnesia  lessons_learned  manias  natural_calamities  optimism_bias  outperformance  overoptimism  panics  paradoxes  perverse_incentives  precaution  recency_bias  short-sightedness  single_action_bias  Tim_Harford  unforeseen  unprepared 
august 2017 by jerryking
Beware of linearity: The shortest distance to your future may not be a straight line - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 09, 2016

linearity – dominates our thinking as we tackle problems. “Western thinkers are so habituated to thinking in terms of linear models that we allow them to inform not just what we think, but the fundamentals of how we think....Linearity is a critical and – apparently – inherent part of our cultural DNA....It’s not easy to forsake linearity...it’s essential to guard against slavishly following its tantalizing direction. Start by reading trade journals from another industry or studying a topic you have no interest in. Look for the less obvious interconnections around you. Think like a songwriter: Choruses and bridges signal a break with the preceding verse or the patterns that come before. But a true bridge, unlike a chorus, never repeats. They urge you to look for bridge moments rather than assume past is prologue.
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Leaders are supposed to tell people the truth rather than what they want to hear. But fact checkers found Mr. Trump consistently at odds with the truth. And his supporters didn’t seem to care, assuming leaders lie anyway. TV host Stephen Colbert used the term “truthiness” to cover believing something that feels true even if it isn’t supported by fact. Says Fowler: “I wonder if truth-telling matters when people are interested in bigger issues?”
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One of the highly touted productivity approaches is to tackle your most important thing (MIT) at the start of the day. Get it done before the chaos of the day overwhelms you.

But productivity writer Cal Newport, a Georgetown University computer science professor, feels the approach is insufficient – calling it “amateur ball” while the professionals play a more textured game.

The problem is that it implicitly concedes that most of your day is out of your control. But someone who plans every minute of their day and every day of their week will inevitably accomplish far more high-value work than someone who identifies only a single daily objective. The key, he feels, is to put enough buffers in your day to handle the unplanned stuff that hits you. With those slices of times and a spirit of adaptability you will find your work life not as unpredictable as you assume.
early_risers  linearity  Harvey_Schachter  thinking  humility  Donald_Trump  unplanned  unforeseen  buffering  GTD  productivity  discontinuities  nonlinear_systems  randomness  interconnections  Jim_Collins  truthiness  truth-telling  slack_time  adaptability  overwhelmed  time-management  unexpected  Cal_Newport  straight-lines  bridging  non-obvious 
december 2016 by jerryking
What Cars Did for Today's World, Data May Do for Tomorrow's - NYTimes.com
August 10, 2014 | NYT | Quentin Hardy.

General Electric plans to announce Monday that it has created a “data lake” method of analyzing sensor information from industrial machinery in places like railroads, airlines, hospitals and utilities. G.E. has been putting sensors on everything it can for a couple of years, and now it is out to read all that information quickly.

The company, working with an outfit called Pivotal, said that in the last three months it has looked at information from 3.4 million miles of flights by 24 airlines using G.E. jet engines. G.E. said it figured out things like possible defects 2,000 times as fast as it could before.....Databricks, that uses new kinds of software for fast data analysis on a rental basis. Databricks plugs into the one million-plus computer servers inside the global system of Amazon Web Services, and will soon work inside similar-size megacomputing systems from Google and Microsoft....If this growing ecosystem of digital collection, shipment and processing is the new version of cars and highways, what are the unexpected things, the suburbs and fast-food joints that grew from cars and roads?

In these early days, businesses like Uber and Airbnb look like challengers to taxi fleets and hotels. They do it without assets like cars and rooms, instead coordinating data streams about the location of people, cars, and bedrooms. G.E. makes engines, but increasingly it coordinates data about the performance of engines and the location of ground crews. Facebook uses sensor data like location information from smartphones
Quentin_Hardy  data  data_driven  AWS  asset-light  massive_data_sets  resource_allocation  match-making  platforms  resource_management  orchestration  ecosystems  GE  sensors  unexpected  unforeseen  Databricks  Uber  Airbnb  data_coordination  instrumentation_monitoring  efficiencies 
august 2014 by jerryking
Is This the End? - NYTimes.com
By JAMES ATLAS
Published: November 24, 2012.

History is a series of random events organized in a seemingly sensible order. We experience it as chronology, with ourselves as the end point — not the end point, but as the culmination of events that leads to the very moment in which we happen to live. “Historical events might be unique, and given pattern by an end,” the critic Frank Kermode proposed in “The Sense of an Ending,” his classic work on literary narrative, “yet there are perpetuities which defy both the uniqueness and the end.” What he’s saying (I think) is that there is no pattern. Flux is all.

Last month’s “weather event” should have taught us that. Whether in 50 or 100 or 200 years, there’s a good chance that New York City will sink beneath the sea. But if there are no patterns, it means that nothing is inevitable either. History offers less dire scenarios: the city could move to another island, the way Torcello was moved to Venice, stone by stone, after the lagoon turned into a swamp and its citizens succumbed to a plague of malaria. The city managed to survive, if not where it had begun... Every civilization must go.

Yet each goes in its own way. In “Collapse,” Jared Diamond showed how the disappearance of a civilization has multiple causes. A cascade of events with unforeseen consequences invariably brings it to a close.
New_York_City  Hurricane_Sandy  weather  natural_calamities  history  Jared_Diamond  Venice  unforeseen  chronological  collapse-anxiety  randomness  societal_collapse 
november 2012 by jerryking
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy…
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

W. H. Murray Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe [thx SM]
hesitancy  inspiration  seminal_moments  unforeseen  boldness  commitments  affirmations  Carpe_diem  quotes 
august 2012 by jerryking
Active inertia is the enemy of survival
Oct 8, 2009 | Financial Times pg. 16 | Book review by Richard
Donkin of Donald Sull's The Upside of Turbulence ; Seizing Opportunity
in an Uncertain World ; Harper Business, $27.99/pound(s)18.99. "the
risk, says Sull, is that complacency sets in as companies and their
bosses begin to believe their own press during the good times. The CEO
on the cover of a business magazine, a boss who looks like all the rest,
a grand headquarters - all are examples of companies resting on their
laurels.
Sull concentrates on building agility in business, allowing companies to
shift resources quickly from less promising to faster-growing areas.
Some companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, P & G and Samsung,
have cultivated portfolio agility at the heart of their businesses, he
says. Sull argues that the best companies are able to absorb the shocks
of market turbulence, using cash and profits from their strongest
business streams to cushion the effects of unforeseen events."
adversity  agility  antifragility  books  book_reviews  Carpe_diem  complacency  cost_of_inaction  Donald_Sull  inertia  Johnson_&_Johnson  P&G  resilience  Samsung  turbulence  uncertainty  unexpected  unforeseen  upside 
october 2009 by jerryking

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