Tag Archives: philosophy

Recommended book: The Black Swan

It took me a really long time to finally read this 2007 book (not related at all to the current Natalie Portman movie of the same name).

The whole point of this book is to make a long, winded argument about why the impact and occurrence of the highly improbably is consistently underestimated, with huge consequences for everybody. While it is a rambling, philosophical book whose point could have been put much more succinctly in half the amount of paper, it is also a very interesting (and some would say prophetical) way of looking at the world as one can see from the interview below.

Recommended book: The pleasures and sorrows of work

Just another day at work
I was going to write a review of this Alain de Botton book whose theme is why and when work is meaningful (answer: when it creates delight or reduces suffering in others), but obviously somebody else had made a better job of it.

Somehow I found this ode to how important and significant jobs which we wouldn’t otherwise notice such as power transmission engineering or fishing and food logistics strangely uplifting for a simple reason: I can fully identify with the drive to create delight in others through the results of my efforts.

We end up coming back to the same thing: maybe empathy is what makes us human?

Cosmos

Have been watching the classic series lately and am convinced that the world needs somebody like Carl Sagan more than ever.  Not to speak for us, but to remind us why we have to find our own voice. In science, in society, in business and in life free inquiry (“the only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths”) shouldn’t be overlooked or mocked as often as it is.  We enjoy the fruits of science every day, but do not value its methods enough.

As a bonus in this blog post I share with you my favourite Sagan speech: Pale Blue Dot ;-)

Battlestar Galactica

Finally had a chance to start watching Battlestar Galactica after having only seen the miniseries and I have to say it is some of the best TV and Sci-fi I have ever seen.  The character depth, the plot and the number and seriousness of the issues tackled are simply astounding, and production is also very glossy and visually appealing.

Without spoiling much of the plot, one of the many themes tackled throughout the series is the desire of artificial constructs to become human (and acting “more Catholic than the Pope” in the process) so they can assimilate into human communities.  There’s a link to the relationship between immigrants and their host societies there somewhere… ;-)

“Truth is cool but unattainable”

What happens when you mix George Soros' "The Age of Fallibility", Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World" and Mexican movie "Y tu mamá también"?  You end up realising that in the end they might not be so far away from each other.

Basically, their main tenet is that absolute truth is non-existent and we can only reach approximations.  Furthermore, we have to be aware of this fact whenever we are constructing our visions of reality, as assuming they are "true" will only cause us several problems: with the policies and attitudes followed by society, with our use of science and technology, and with our understanding of ourselves.

Inteligencia de sistemas

He estado leyendo una colección de ensayos que tocan el tema de una rama del estudio de sistemas y la filosofía llamada "inteligencia de sistemas" y no pude dejar de pensar en la sociedad mexicana, que es un gran (y muy retorcido) sistema.  Cuestiones como "el que no transa no avanza" o el típico fulano que le compra un ensayo a alguien para sacar una buena calficación son, si no típicamente mexicanas, sí sintomáticas de un sistema en el que algo tiene que estar definitivamente mal para que funcionen.

Como buen dijera el ingeniero que todos llevamos dentro: "¿Y ahora cómo lo arreglamos?"  Favor de no confundir con "¿Cómo nos arreglamos joven?".