Sunday, January 22, 2012

BIAS and the Information Asymmetry

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
~T.S Elliot

Leonardo's Vitruvian Man

Life is a constant whirl of motion, the day into night, the passing clouds and the blue sky, the rain turning into snow and the parachuting seed of a dandelion blowing over the meadow to populate. If not for that there would be stillness.

This discourse is not about Stiglitz’ Information asymmetry of economics, where one party is handicapped with lower information value in a two person contract. Nor is this about Hustler and Galusky’s architectural asymmetry of the left and right plastic brain that is in constant state of evolution, No, this is asymmetry of knowledge and the underpinnings of personal hard-boiled bias based on recalcitrant thought.

We are victims to our internal stillness. Our inward prejudices, have the magnetic pull to align the mental filings to our biased polarity, holding them in place – in stillness.

We can without introspection, turn into large bodies of water, without ingress or egress of fresh supply, where the sulphites grow and the Fenton’s Reaction depletes the oxygen turning it into reservoirs of stagnancy, not allowing any life or new forms to prosper, much like ideas, thoughts and new concepts.

This bias resolves itself in the most meaningful and hardened beliefs over time that remain firewalled against all common and new sense. The belief if not reviewed, sinks into the depths of that mental Dead Sea in whose darkness, life and thought are at a standstill.

The foregoing is a tale of that woe.

The cantankerous nature of this balding elderly man who had claimed several prizes in his field of study was evident as he began his monologue. He vociferously defended the concept he had developed and lectured about for years and was doing the same to the thousand or so gathered in the large auditorium. Hands were furiously taking notes, eyes were peeled, ears on full alert and everyone seemed intent on catching the golden dew drops that floated in the ether from the speakers magnified voice. Yes there was energy, crackling at the edges, The lecture ended shortly into a thunderous applause from the converts and the converted. The elderly man basked in the now brightly illuminated auditorium, then slowly walked off the stage. The younger individual who followed him reached the podium as many of the audience were in the process of exiting the auditorium. The lights had started to dim. Not many wanted to hear any upstarts. They had just been blessed with wisdom.

“I am afraid what you just heard although elegant and descriptive is curiously contrary to the experimental evidence we have.”

A pandemonium of hushed voices, chairs clanking against one another and the sound of bottoms placing their burden on the metal chairs took over. Yes controversy was in the air and nothing invites the vultures then the smell of a road-kill. The paradigm was about to change, maybe, but the comment certainly aroused a sense of anticipation amongst the audience. The old shackles had rusted and turned fragile in their hold and were breaking loose. A new sheriff was in town, maybe. Time would tell, but he had injected new blood in the sludge of yesterday.

Wright Brother's Replica

Unfortunately information asymmetry proliferates amongst us all, the baubles of yesteryears are just that, old and discarded. Information changes, ebbs and flows like water, gaining sediment from here and depositing it there, changing direction and drying out beds here whilst watering a new birthing ground of flowers there. It is in this flow, this remarkable understanding that we process and progress. The old is not necessarily bad, but a stepping-stone to cross the stream, a shoulder to climb on and see the next horizon. Clutching it with a death grip is, well…death of a dream!

Burt Rutan's Composite Asymmetrical Twin Engine

Burt Rutan's Space Ship One and the White Knight

Too easily we fall into the traps of our own built in biases and become blind to the changing facts. This then is the interrupted loop of information symmetry that sinks many a seasoned, seafaring ship, fall many a skyscraper of knowledge and blind many a discerning eye. The success of today is only a guarantee for another advancement tomorrow, no less no more. The past success is not to be worshipped, but revered for its being. Clinging to the past is a failure to take the next step and we all know what that means.
Celtic Knot

Information is being manufactured every millisecond. Grasp it, accept it and learn from it to put your thoughts into action. Failing which the burden of entropy leads to a heavy collapse of ideas, thoughts and concepts into the venerable black hole of oblivion.

It is through constant sifting of information, tagging that which tugs at our neuronal strings and that which repels where real symmetry and understanding lies. A jaundiced eye sees the same information but interprets it through the refractive prism of personal bias. An open mind sees that for what it is.

Persian Rug Symmetry

Thus information asymmetry is the prejudice, the bias that lurks in us all for our own accomplishments. Hardened to our internal bias, firm in our resolve to disprove any new advance, we become blinded to the next move. The symmetry ends.

This then is the fall from grace.
This then is implosive reminder of bias.
This then is failure to keep learning.
This then is death of understanding.
This then is information asymmetry. 

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