Archive for December 4th, 2012

December 4, 2012

The Question Concerning Technology

four causes

For German philosopher Martin Heidegger broadly, the question of being formed the essence of his philosophical inquiry.

In ‘The Question Concerning Technology‘ (‘Die Frage nach der Technik’), Heidegger sustains this inquiry, but turns to the particular phenomenon of technology, seeking to derive the essence of technology and humanity’s role of being with it. Heidegger originally published the text in 1954, in ‘Vorträge und Aufsätze’ (‘Letters and Essays’).

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December 4, 2012

Gestell

Gestell [gesh-tell] is a German word used by philosopher Martin Heidegger to describe what lies behind or beneath modern technology. This concept was applied to Heidegger’s exposition of the essence of technology.

The conclusion regarding the essence of technology was that technology is fundamentally enframing. As such, the essence of technology is Gestell. Indeed, ‘Gestell, literally ‘framing,’ is an all-encompassing view of technology, not as a means to an end, but rather a mode of human existence.’

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December 4, 2012

Accuracy and Precision

The accuracy of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to that quantity’s actual value. The precision of a measurement system, also called reproducibility or repeatability, is the degree to which repeated measurements under unchanged conditions show the same results. Although the two words reproducibility and repeatability can be synonymous in colloquial use, they are deliberately contrasted in the context of the scientific method.

A measurement system can be accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, neither, or both. For example, if an experiment contains a systematic error, then increasing the sample size generally increases precision but does not improve accuracy. The result would be a consistent yet inaccurate string of results from the flawed experiment. Eliminating the systematic error improves accuracy but does not change precision.

December 4, 2012

Moral Hazard

bailout by Christopher Weyant

In economic theory, a moral hazard is a situation where the costs that could incur from a decision will not be felt by the party taking the risk. Knowing that the potential costs and/or burdens of taking such risk will be borne, in whole or in part, by others creates a moral hazard and invites high risk behavior.

For example, with respect to the originators of subprime loans, many may have suspected that the borrowers would not be able to maintain payments and that, for this reason, the loans were not, in the long run, going to be worth much. Still, because there were many buyers of these loans (or of pools of these loans) willing to take on that risk, the originators did not concern themselves with the potential long-term consequences of making these loans.

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December 4, 2012

Too big to fail

Lehman Brothers

Too big to fail‘ describes financial institutions that are so large and so interconnected that their failure is widely held to be disastrous to the economy, and which therefore must be supported by government when they face difficulty. The term was popularized by Congressman Stewart McKinney in a 1984 hearing discussing the FDIC’s intervention with a failing bank, Continental Illinois.

Proponents of this theory believe that the importance of some institutions means they should become recipients of beneficial financial and economic policies from governments or central banks. One of the problems that arises is moral hazard (where costs that could incur will not be felt by the party taking the risk), in this case companies insulated by protective policies will seek to profit by it, and take positions that are high-risk high-return, as they are able to leverage these risks based on the policy preference they receive.

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December 4, 2012

Commodity Money

madoff by Drew Sheneman

Commodity money is money whose value comes from a commodity of which it is made (e.g. precious metals, cigarettes). Unlike representative money (a certificate or token which can be exchanged for the underlying commodity) or fiat currency (money backed only by an assurance from the issuing government), commodity money consists of objects that have value in themselves as well as value in their use as money.

Examples of commodities that have been used as mediums of exchange include gold, silver, copper, peppercorns, Rai stones (large, circular stone disks carved out of limestone), decorated belts (wampum belts), shells, cigarettes, barley, laundry detergent, etc.

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December 4, 2012

David Doubilet

David Doubilet (b. 1946) is a well known underwater photographer published frequently in ‘National Geographic Magazine.’ He was born in New York and started taking photos underwater at the young age of 12. He started with a Brownie Hawkeye in a rubber anesthesiologist’s bag. During his summer holidays, he spent his time along the New Jersey coast. He later worked as a diver and photographer for the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratories in New Jersey. He also spent much time in the Caribbean. While a dive instructor in the Bahamas he found his motivation to capture the beauty of the sea and everything in it.

His goal as a photographer is to ‘redefine photographic boundaries’ every time he enters the water. The main obstacle in underwater photography is the impossibility of changing lenses or film underwater, thus Doubilet invented the split lens camera. This allowed him to take pictures above and below water simultaneously; there is a separate focus point on the top half and bottom half of the scene. When the picture is taken, it is recorded onto the same negative. He is well known for his reports on the sea and has written many books in recent years, one of which includes ‘Australia’s Great Barrier Reef’ by National Geographic.