Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dublin, accountability, overreaction, swarm theory

I'm in Dublin at the moment to see some people here. It's a great city to be, albeit a bit rainy :). We're in a four-star hotel near the canal. Great stay, good food and real Guinness.

Shopping here is great too. The cost of living here is very high considering other places in Europe, possibly more expensive than Paris. Restaurants and so on are about 1.5x more expensive than common restaurants in London. We're going back tonight to London to travel back 6am towards Recife through Lisbon. Then it's back to work from Thursday to get the project finished.

I've had some interesting discussions around London and Dublin, also regarding Brazil. The industry and market for Brazil seems to get an international interest. There are English investors looking at certain regions and the stock exchange is gaining a lot of interest which is very good for Brazilian companies. I hope this means a turn-around time for the economy in Brazil, as there is some catching-up to do in that regard. Violence however is very difficult to push down at the moment.

With regards to corruption and violence levels, these discussions were putting forward the hypothesis that this is mostly due to lack of accountability. This does not just mean having watchdog organizations in place that signal occurrences, but having watchdog organizations that have the power themselves to do something about it. It is in the public interest if a certain violator of social norms and ethics gets fried significantly through the watchdog and through the common press, which requires a free press plus the insight of the politicians in the country that an independent organization with power must exist in order to progress as a society.

Nothing is perfect however. If you consider the UK, some things that shouldn't happen still do, but it's at a much different scale. Holland and the Scandinavian countries seem to do really well. It's key to keep a cool head and consider the situation from different viewpoints before acting. In a different post, I referenced a post from Bruce Schneier with regards to rare risk and overreactions.

Well, it's very specific to terrorism, but you could extend this observation into a deeper analysis of the human psyche, thus psychology. In how far are we as human beings able to make rational decisions "all the time" that is in the best interest at that time?

There is some very interesting research being done on "swarm theory" as well, parts of which may be related to human beings. Although we have certainly a good amount of individuality and reasoning, by how far are all our decisions truly made "individual" and not subject to a certain sense of "swarm thinking"? I guess this is a very interesting part of research for a psychology department. And in this sense, it is even more interesting to see how a certain context for semantic search algorithms need to take this into account (or be able to disregard it even!).

Cool, for now... I am getting ready to leave this hotel and get back through the city towards the airport. I hope back in Recife the sun is shining!

No comments: