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Author Topic: The Eudaemonic Pie  (Read 11526 times)
chin
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« on: 04 December 2009, 18:05:54 »

I just started to read this book this afternoon. The book is about this group of physicists & computer wizards using computers hidden in shoes to compute the probability of roulette gambles.

One of the key members of the team Doyne was a book worm grew up in a small town, where he met a physicist Thomas Ingerson who made a lasting impact on Doyne's life. From the book, Ingerson was really a geeky type who once made an observation "Money is the key to freedom", "while thinking of ways to free himself from teaching (at University) and strike out on his own." However "the problem always resolved itself into one of financial independence." And he went on to say that "There are two ways to make it, capitalism and theft." Since the odds of getting caught at theft is too high, that left capitalism.

While I generally agree with the first statement that "Money is the key to freedom", we have also seen far too many people lost sight of the end (having freedom) by burying too deep into the mean (of making money at the expense of other pursuits.)

On a separate but related note, I recently read in the news that the former head of a large internation accounting firm is accused of stealing about $100 million from his clients. Or Q mentioned to me the story where a very well paid lawyer lamented about how little he's worth compare to the mage-rich clients. Have they lost sight of the "freedom" part?
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wongyan
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« Reply #1 on: 06 December 2009, 14:27:45 »

Money for Freedom is also implanted in the bottom of heart.  That idea was well accepted back to my age at 20s.  I recently found physical freedom can be solved by having more money while mental may not.  I still think mental freedom never exists if "God is still alive".
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Never stop Learning, Never stop Earning!!
哲人無憂,智者常樂。並不是因為所愛的一切他都擁有了,而是所擁有的一切他都愛。
chin
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« Reply #2 on: 06 December 2009, 17:34:04 »

Money for Freedom is also implanted in the bottom of heart.  That idea was well accepted back to my age at 20s.  I recently found physical freedom can be solved by having more money while mental may not.  I still think mental freedom never exists if "God is still alive".

Do you imply that religious peope would never have the freedom of mind? It could be very true especially for the judo-christian-muslim type - because freedom imply making choices, and we make choices only because of uncertainties. If everything is governed by an omnipotent, omnipresence, omniconscious being, what's uncertain about anything?! If there is no choice to be made, do we still have free will?
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chin
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« Reply #3 on: 06 December 2009, 17:43:35 »

I read about half of the book by last night. I still do not know if they did carry the scheme to a large scale operation. But I did a look up of the main characters, and they are seem to be now very prominent research in physics AND founded a financial market trading company based on clever algorithms!

More physicists on wall street?!
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wongyan
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« Reply #4 on: 06 December 2009, 22:31:43 »

Money for Freedom is also implanted in the bottom of heart.  That idea was well accepted back to my age at 20s.  I recently found physical freedom can be solved by having more money while mental may not.  I still think mental freedom never exists if "God is still alive".

Do you imply that religious peope would never have the freedom of mind? It could be very true especially for the judo-christian-muslim type - because freedom imply making choices, and we make choices only because of uncertainties. If everything is governed by an omnipotent, omnipresence, omniconscious being, what's uncertain about anything?! If there is no choice to be made, do we still have free will?

Sometimes, I even think God is created by human instead of "Thy" created the world.  For good and bad, light and darkness etc, they are all human concepts.  I don't think a shark/lion feels guilty/cruelty when they eat their preys.
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Never stop Learning, Never stop Earning!!
哲人無憂,智者常樂。並不是因為所愛的一切他都擁有了,而是所擁有的一切他都愛。
chin
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« Reply #5 on: 06 December 2009, 23:57:52 »

Sometimes, I even think God is created by human instead of "Thy" created the world.  For good and bad, light and darkness etc, they are all human concepts.  I don't think a shark/lion feels guilty/cruelty when they eat their preys.

In my mind there is no doubt about that.

Maybe I should start another topic on this. I have recently read another book "Godless", where a former preacher woke up to reasons and wrote a book about his own story and the arguements.
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hangchoi
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« Reply #6 on: 07 December 2009, 00:04:16 »

This topic may need Po Chai to join if you want to go further.....I think... Undecided
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「吾心信其可行,則移山倒海之難,終有成功之日。吾心信其不可行,則反掌折枝之易,亦無收效之期也。」
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« Reply #7 on: 11 December 2009, 02:49:04 »

Just finished reading the book.

Wongyan asked me last Saturday if the guys did use the system to win lots of money. The short answer is NO, otherwise the front cover of the book won't be how they "took on Las Vegas" but "took down Las Vegas".

The long answers and my views follows.

The story happended in the 1970s. When they set out to to build the prediction computer using physics & mathematics, they were not thinking of themselves as gamblers. "They were scientists taking advantages of stochastic fluctuations. A gambling system, properly conceived, is anti-entropic. It locates fluctuating probabilities ... and stores them up in small but consistent winnings." (p42) [BTW this echos the" Bet Small Bet Frequent" theme in other threads.]

The prime motivation was probably money - besides the "Money is key to freedom" theme (see post #1), there was an idealistic dream that the roulette project was to provide funding for construction of an utopia where "technological commune of friends and tools gathered for the purpose of putting science to human use. Between visits to Timbuktu and Philadelphia, all (members) would have someplace to call home." So besides trying to make lots of money, the project was to be a structure to hold people together.

With this ultimate goal in mind, they structured the project "to be run democratically, with all decisions arrived at by consensus and all future profits divided equitably between investors and workers." To achieve this, they imagine they have a pie and each member would take a slice of the pie eventually according to contribution, in either hours worked or ideas contributed. And in my opinion, at least from a business point of view, this "equitable structure" was a major factor in their eventual failure.

They did initially able to put together rudimentary devices that worked in a number of test trips to casinos. But these trips was also troubled with lots of technical problems. They had to wear the different devices all overy their body (input in shoes, output in belly, some parts under armpits, the women wore bras with special pockets to hold the electronics, etc...) In the mean time, the key members had their Ph D study underway, doing research in Chaos theory, etc...

After working on the project on and off, including more than one year of putting on backburners, they decided to hire one guy full time working on the project, with compensation terms that departed far from the original "equitable" idea, and more close the modern venture capital financing where the last dollar needed gets a much larger share of benefit than the initial dollar invested. Basically the full time guy would get a up-front cash payment plus priority in future profit shares. This new guy's idea was to compact everything into the shoes, and after long delays, they did successfully put the complete system into 3 shoes. The new system worked well in their lab, but failed in the real world application because of the vital radio transmissions couldn't handle the radio noises beaming around in any casino. By then they ran out of steam and called it off.

From a technical point of view, they were ahead of their times when the enabling technologies were no there yet. If you google/youtube "roulette computer", you will find lots programs or schemes for sale now along the same line of these guys, running on mobile phones or PDAs.

However, in my opinion, with the benefit of hind sight, this venture had some foundamental problems:

1. Lack of a macro view for the grand scheme of things. Even if they were successful with the shoe computers, they could never grow the operation to a large scale, because they always need to remain sneaky since they are against the house. If you are taking money from the house, the casinos will always change rules and try to ban you. This factor alone restricts potential growth. The gambles that can scale up are gambles that you take money from others anonymously - like the financial markets or pari mutuel markets where the organizations that handle the money are neutral to your winning, where the losers do not know who took their money.

2. Lack of proper owner & driver to run the project as a business. This is strange given that the major financial contributors were Doyne & his wealthy girlfriend, AND the de facto project manager was also Doyne. He did not seem to able to properly take up the authority & responsibility to focus & drive the development. While every member can log hours and get a future share of profit, the sense of responsibility & accountability seemed weak, probably no one was paid and have his/her livihood dependent on the success of the project. At the end, the major financial contributor admitted that they were probably better off with a "benevolent dictator" vs a consensus seeking culture.
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wongyan
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« Reply #8 on: 20 December 2009, 14:30:00 »

the key is whether we can get big enough money in a very short period of time!!
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Never stop Learning, Never stop Earning!!
哲人無憂,智者常樂。並不是因為所愛的一切他都擁有了,而是所擁有的一切他都愛。
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