Life changes the planet. It always has. We humans are life. We’re changing the planet. How you choose to think about it has a lot to do with what you choose to do about it. The Medea Hypothesis In his book, The Medea Hypothesis, Peter Ward summarizes a few decades of ecology research and adds a few of his ideas of his own. Ward argues that the idea that life seeks to create equilibrium with the environment, the Gaia Hypothesis, is false. He paints a compelling picture of how life doesn’t create harmony with the planet at all. Life appears to be in perpetual conflict with the abiotic environment. It tries to occupy as much space as it can. It[…]

Canada is a land of many Canadas. There’s the Maritime version, the Montreal version, the inland BC version…so many versions really. In spite of how different those Canada’s are – they’re all down South. The North is entirely different. More people live on Prince Edward Island (~160,000 people over ~5400 KM^2) than the entire North (~126,000 over ~2.5 million KM^2). I don’t even fully comprehend just how different life is in the North.  It’s always been expensive and hard to get up North. It’s brutal by foot and paddle. It’s expensive by boat, rail, truck and airplane. The most obvious factor is the distance. The spaces are vast. Less obvious is how much more expensive it is to build transportation[…]

The Canadian state has had an interesting relationship with networks since the beginning. Networks connect things and enable outcomes. Those who direct and influence the State have preferences for what those outcomes should be. To understand how the state is grappling with the consequences of social networks, it might be useful to look at how it has grappled with physical networks. We’ll begin with some basic theory about the Canadian State. Canada is made of citizens. Some of those citizens become leaders. Those leaders try to create some explainable representation of society’s optimal social welfare function, and package it into something people can recognize, understand and vote for. They do that because they need the consent of the citizens in[…]

Walter Gretzky is credited with the quote: “Go to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Walter used socratic questioning to teach his son, Wayne, hockey strategy. Here’s the full context from Wayne’s perspective: Him: “Where do you skate?” Me: “To where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” Him: “Where’s the last place a guy looks before he passes it?” Me: “The guy he’s passing to.” Him: “Which means…” Me: “Get over there and intercept it.” Him: “If you get cut off, what are you gonna do?” Me: “Peel.” Him: “Which way?” Me: “Away from the guy, not towards him.” (Gretzy, Reilly, Gretzky: An Autobiography p. 88) Puck On To win a game of ice[…]

2020 hasn’t been easy. Figures from the US Census Household Pulse Survey can be used to tell a story of anxiety, hunger, depression, desperation and hopelessness. Millions are hurting. 2020 is hitting the poor, the young, and those who are low to mid-skilled the hardest. 2021 isn’t looking easy. Vaccines will take time to rollout. The recovery depends on collective health security. Health security causes confidence, confidence causes increased risk tolerance, increased risk tolerance leads to investment, and investment stimulates growth in private sector productivity, labour market demand, and opportunity. It will take time for each part of the chain to develop. It all lags. A return to the previous trend line doesn’t address the underlining cause of wage polarization.[…]

Canadians are a people shaped by physical and social geography. Both explain a portion of why we are who we are, and how we relate to each other. Covid-19, an executable snippet of code wrapped in protein with the sole goal of persistence, is shaping us. It has already affected our social demography. Will it change Canada’s social geography? What It Is Population density is a pretty good indicator of attitude. I can’t make the claim that it’s always causal for all people, After all, did living with 25,000 others in a square kilometre in downtown Toronto make you more conscious of mental health challenges facing the population, or were you always conscious and chose to live with others who[…]

I used to conjure Louis Del Grande to appear on my television. I used steel wool on the antenna of a black and white set, Tuesday’s at 7 or 8pm, on CBC. Louis played a tabloid journalist that fought crime, fought his wife, fought the Crown, cracked jokes, and in the end would solve the murder mystery with a fuzzy psychic flashback. The show was called, wait for it, Seeing Things. I thought it was neat how he could see the past so clearly, with psychic flashbacks, often at the most inconvenient time. I remember wanting to see the future like that. It was unlike anything I remember watching on television. Last night I scrolled through over a hundred titles[…]

There are at least two systems of achieving productivity growth: path dependence and disruption. What if there is a third way? This post unpacks that paragraph and explores ways through. It will start with explaining lock in and path dependence. We’ll cover the application narrow machine intelligence in a very narrow industry. It will end with a small scenario and a few what ifs. Lock In Consider banner advertising. This is a relatively old industry. Its roots predate the Internet by at least a couple hundred years. It may have started thousands of years ago. It starts out with a person with a problem. They need to get the word out about their product or service. Reframed, they need to[…]

Torben Iversen and Anne Wren wrote (1998) “Equality, Employment, and Budgetary Restraint: The Trilemma of the Service Economy” and published it in World Politics, (50), 4, pp. 507-546. And it’s a good read. And you could read it for yourself right here. Here’s a summary in one image: What It Means What causes the Trilemma itself? It’s the idea that productivity doesn’t really grow in a pure local services economy. A restaurant can only serve so many meals, barber cut so many heads, a teacher so many students, a surgeon so many people, a police officer so many arrests. It’s far harder to get compounded year on year growth in productivity in services. As I’ll argue below, it isn’t impossible.[…]

What do you think causes the demand curve? Mechanically, it’s pretty easy to describe the laws of demand. The way pretty lines shift to the right or the left from shocks. It’s possible to deduce the real, rough, shape of the demand curve for a product (It just takes a lot of courage!). We can import all the knowledge about demand, segmentation and price discrimination. We can describe a demand curve just fine. Why does it exist? What causes it to exist? If intelligence didn’t exist, demand wouldn’t exist. It’s fun to think of a machine generating it’s own preferences, independent any human input. Most of human trainers of such machines seem to keep them on a short leash. Monkeys,[…]