Archive for the 'economy' Category

rapid static statistics

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

While updating my post about taxes in Greece and their semantic accessability, I looked at some current projects in “big data” and statistics and found an interesting application called Rapid Miner LOD Extension (I haven’t tried it though), which allows to do operations on linked open data (LOD) (see e.g. the european gateway to LOD) via the data mining program Rapid Miner.

The Rapid Miner LOD extension was amongst others used by the winners of the Semantic Statistics Challenge. The winner’s slideshare link hosts some examples, like maps which investigate the correlation between unemployment and police stations in France, which display a bit the capabilities of the involved programms and databases.

According to the notice “NBS signs data agreement with hi-tech firms” on Chinadaily there is also a lot going on in China:

The National Bureau of Statistics teamed up with 11 high-tech firms to use big data technology in the collecting, processing and analyzing of important statistics.

and

Under this partnership, the bureau and the 11 companies will co-develop a standard on how to use big data in statistics.

So it will be interesting to see wether some of this high tech data will enter the Linked open data pool and wether we will get to see soon some interesting visualizations of it.

price competition and sex work

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013


Price competition in a handicraft store

There is currently some debate here in Europe about how to deal with prostitution.
(more…)

Φορολογία – Forologia in Hellas

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

(more…)

About wood burning

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


Waste disposal facility in Berlin. The german word “Entsorgung” means literally: getting rid of sorrows

John Baez has a new blog post about Europe using wood burning for energy generation. My comment to the blog post is rather detailled and it is also a comment to the currently ongoing debate in Berlin about how to organize its energy supply. This debate was initiated by the socalled Berliner Energietisch (unfortunately not yet in english) so I thought I should maybe post the comment also here.

(more…)

What’s Fukushima accident’s death toll?

Saturday, June 1st, 2013


“Meeresfürchte”, an artwork by Johann Merkewicz questioning food safety

I am currently have an argument with John Baez on Azimuth. My comment is currently awaiting moderation.

John wrote:

..the death toll due to nuclear power was a negligible fraction of the overall death toll due to the tsunami. The Japanese should be improving nuclear safety and building in better organizational checks and balances, rather than shunning nuclear power.

What do you call negligible?

According to Wikipedia there were 15883 confirmed earthquake/Tsunami related deaths and 2,676 people missing.

In an Bloomberg article by R.P. Gale and E. Lax one finds:

And what of the lasting threat from radiation? Remarkably, outside the immediate area of Fukushima, this is hardly a problem at all. Although the crippled nuclear reactors themselves still pose a danger, no one, including personnel who worked in the buildings, died from radiation exposure. Most experts agree that future health risks from the released radiation, notably radioactive iodine-131 and cesiums-134 and – 137, are extremely small and likely to be undetectable.

Even considering the upper boundary of estimated effects, there is unlikely to be any detectable increase in cancers in Japan, Asia or the world except close to the facility, according to a World Health Organization report.

On the website of the World Health Organization report one finds amongst others:

In terms of specific cancers, for people in the most contaminated location, the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are:

all solid cancers – around 4% in females exposed as infants;
breast cancer – around 6% in females exposed as infants;
leukaemia – around 7% in males exposed as infants;
thyroid cancer – up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%).

By this it looks indeed as if one wouldn’t see an increase of the overall cancer rate in all over Japan. However it is not said here what this means in absolute numbers. How many more cancer cases/deaths are there to be in total?

(This report is also cited by the german GRS report as “the” main source (see p.59) for the estimation of future health risks due to the Fukushima accident.)

In the above citation of R.P. Gale and E. Lax it is in addition mentioned that there were no deaths due to radiation exposure. World-nuclear.org (which I often cite, because they are rather pro-nuclear and often rather well-informed) seems to assert the same, they write:

There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident, but over 100,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes to ensure this. Government nervousness delays their return.

(please note that from this sentence it can be (and usually probably will be) ambiguously infered that “There have been no deaths from the nuclear accident…”, which is not true, please read further)

The assertion that there had been no deaths due to radiation (which is also cited as such on Wikipedia) is eventually based on a sofar unpublished study by UNSCEAR , which was mentioned in an article by Brumfield, who writes:

So far, neither operator seems to have suffered ill effects as a result of their exposure.

Furthermore it seems that the UN thinks there were 6 dead workers, who did not die from radiation.

I think this should be scutinized. In an email from Karl Feintuch at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commision (USNRC) (p. 76) (here another internet capture) it is reported that:

Japan reports 5 persons have received lethal radiation doses

but as he points out: there should be “caution regarding maturity and reliability of that information”. Furthermore Tepco reported at least one death, which sounds to me by the description very much radiation related (but this is only a Google translate):

For one person seriously injured who had been trapped in the tower crane cockpit of the exhaust tube,
Is transported to the ground from the tower crane in 13 minutes 5:00 pm today, died in 17 minutes 5:00 pm
Has been confirmed.

Moreover if you read reports as the article “Worker wants new government to secure safety at Fukushima plant” in Asahi Shimbun, than you may ask yourself how exhaustive and good is the monitoring of the health of workers at the Fukushima plant?

A TEPCO employee in his 20s who grew up in Fukushima Prefecture has become an opponent of nuclear power after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

“I was told to work at the plant like a kamikaze pilot,” said the man, who is evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture due to high levels of radiation he received. “I have no idea about how much radiation I was exposed to.”

What kind of treatment receive these workers who risk their health and lives for mitigating the effects of such a catastrophe?

But let’s have again a look on the overall mostly future expected casualities:

According to the study “Worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” by John E. Ten Hoeve and Mark Z. Jacobson (via Bloomberg.com)

We find that inhalation exposure, external exposure, and ingestion exposure of the public to radioactivity
may result in 15 to 1300 cancer mortalities and 24 to 2500 cancer morbidities worldwide, mostly in Japan. Exposure of workers to
radioactivity at the plant is projected to result in another 2 to 12 cancers cases.

So their “best estimate” as Evan Douple called it in the bloomberg article is about 130 deaths.

The Results were evaluated against daily worldwide Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) airborne radionuclide concentrations and deposition rates from around Japan.
Atmospheric and ground concentrations of iodine-131 (I-131), cesium-137 (Cs-137) and cesium-134 (Cs-134) were then used to estimate the worldwide health effects from the radioactive fallout

On a first glance into the paper it looks to me as if for example sea and groundwater contamination via the ongoing release of contaminated water and eventual future contaminations had not been taken into account.

The study
Accounting for long-term doses in “worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” Jan Beyea, Edwin Lyman and Frank N. von Hippel (via asianscientist.com) finds:

On balance, the net result of adjusting the TH&J numbers to account for long-term dose from radiocesium is uncertain, but the mid-range estimate for the number of future mortalities is probably closer to 1000 than to 125.

According to a report in Yomiuri Shimbun there are at least 537 deaths which had been certified by municipalities as a direct consequence of the Fukushima disaster.

So if one accepts a cancer related death toll of 1000 people (i.e. a higher but possible projection in the Ten Hoeve and Jacobson fallout study or the expected average toll in the Beyea, Lyman and von Hippel article) and if adds these the stress related 573 deaths one has currently a prognostized Fukushima accident death toll of about 1600 people.

This is roughly about one tenth of the casualties of the earth quake/Tsunami catastrophe. Is that negligible?!

Moreover the Fukushima air circulation blew about roughly 81% of the fallout onto the open sea. That means if the winds would have been blown onto land then this would have given at least a factor 5 more fallout on possibly populated land (if one assumes approximately equal population density). But if one takes into account that the wind almost never blew into south direction (eventual erranous personal observation) , i.e. almost never into the direction of the densely populated Tokyo area then it sounds cautious to assume a factor of ten for what the cancer rates could have been under different weather conditions. That is in that case the death toll could have been about as big as the death toll of the earth quake/Tsunami catastrophe.

And I don’t want to imagine the death toll which would have been a reality if additionally a criticality event would have turned into a chain reaction.

Maxwell’s equations of human behaviour

Monday, May 27th, 2013


on the attractivity of locations: refurbished buildings in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, among them the now newly renovated Rhin Towers

I have found Maxwell’s equations of human behaviour!

(more…)

critter under the couch

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

A sort of brief follow-up to the last two posts about simulations. Here a link to Tim’s simulation of a critter under the couch.

sim sin correctional possibilities

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013


artwork: “Berlin citysimbim” by glocki

This post is a kind of follow-up post to the last one, which dealt amongst others with simulations of political/economic scenarios in multiplayer online games. In a couple of days a new SimCity game will come out and as Wikipedia puts it:

This version of SimCity will be the first to feature full online play since Maxis’s SimCity 2000 Network Edition,[1] allowing for regions to house multiple cities from different players. Regions can alternatively be set to private for solo play.[31] SimCity will require players to be logged into EA’s Origin service to play the game, including when playing single player.

or as SimCity.com puts it:

SimCity has truly connected cities within larger regions for the first time. Cities do not exist in a bubble – they are living, breathing systems that make up a region – and now you can trade and share resources among cities and regions in real time.

Unfortunately the above mentioned Origin seems to have sofar stirred up a lot of controversy about privacy issues. In Europe there are currently new data protection regulations underway, which by the way seem to be heavily “informed” by lobbyists. (The website Lobbyplag (unfortunately sofar only in german) gives an overview, which law drafts have been directly pasted in from which lobbyists brochures.) In view of this ungoing process it is thus however sofar not clear wether any of the discussed privacy issues of Origin will have any or what juridicial consequences.
SimCity2013 seems to allow for no modding at least right after launch. That is in an interview with gameinformer SimCity lead producer Kip Katsarelis replied to the question:
Is there an element of user-created content and sharing in city customization?

We’re not committing to any of that at this time, but we know that is part of Maxis. In SimCity 4, a lot of those tools were released pretty much a year after launch. So, definitely on our minds, but I can’t promise that we’re delivering on any of that right now.

If modding would have been possible then -apart from eventual privacy/data protection problems- the people from the project of the last post could have eventually thought about wether it would make sense to use SimCity2013Mods for their purpose. However it should also pointed out, that even if modding would be possible then too political game mods could pose problems.

One should also think about the economic consequences of computer simulations/games etc. (you may eventually also want to read my comment on the blog Backreaction in this context.)

addition 13.12.17: For the readers convenience, here a copy of the comment on the blog Backreaction:

nad0815 said…

What you seem to be somewhat discussing is to some extend wether there exist some god(s).

That is if I replace “simulation” with “creation by god” and if I replace “computer” with “human mind accessible universe” then your discussion looks very similar to that discussion.

Finally wether something feels “simulated” or “real” is quite a question of perception. You may eventually want to read:

focus and context, part IIIb: about feeling real

And since there are quite some humans who claim that they already saw/perceived/DISCOVERED the “simulator(s)” your “coincidence problem” seems to be spread over all centuries.

you wrote:

“To begin with, unless you want to populate the simulation by hand, you need a process in which self-awareness is created out of simpler bits. And to prevent self-aware beings from noting the simulation’s limits, you then need a monitoring program that identifies when the self-aware parts attempt to make an observation and exactly which observation.”

Why should self-awareness (of limitations) be necessary to simulate self-aware entities? In fact a simulation of (aware) entities could happen by un-self-awarely mimicking a construction process and/or by chance. In that case your simulation would neither be a “creation of an aware god” nor be it “fully self-organized by some abstract laws and/or random outer conditions”. And thus there seems to be in particular no reason why simulated entities need to be kept from noticing that they are simulated like in order “to save on computational power” – that is they could awarely simulate without knowing that they are simulated themselves or they could even simulate whatever while being completely unaware of whatever. Both would need calculational power.

In fact I do think that nowadays “simulations” in computer games (and related computer environments) use up a lot of power, labour, time etc. and that this seems to have already quite an economic impact:
http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Economic+growth+and+limitations

So you’d never observe any effects of finite lattice spacing because whenever you look all symmetries are restored. Wicked. It also creates other scientific problems.

(short side remark: There exist of course also fractals)

Considering the alien question: The reason that we have sofar not detected any “aliens” could of course be also for the reason that mankind has sofar been regarded as a kind of “baby civilization” and has thus sofar been protected from any shocks which could result from meeting the aliens…

5:24 AM, March 03, 2013

FuturICT

Monday, February 4th, 2013


Musician Imogen Heap in her tech wear

In a recent comment on randform randform reader Bibi asked:

You had written at Azimuth that your idea to use MMOGs for simulating economic and political real world scenarios

seems to have recently been picked up for the Global Participatory Platform of the 2013 Flagship proposal FucturICT

It seems also that your scientific platform idea had been picked up for that ICTfutur grant proposal.

What about your intellectual property?

The FuturICT application for 1 billion Euros had though been turned down, will you now write an EU grant proposal?

Answers to this comment after the click.

(more…)

RIP

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The informed randform reader knows that I am a proponent of open access to (up to now) mostly publicly funded academic papers with the side remark that the full access to results with possibly hazardous implications may eventually need to be treated differently. In the randform post “petition for open acess to EU research results” MIT’s open courseware was mentioned as a good example for open access. In this article it was also mentioned that

At this point one should maybe remind the EU about the benefits of open source software and communities for their research institutions. These open initiatives are supported by individuals who contribute to the community usually in their free time.

In an older randform post: focus and context, part IVa: Codes and context, based on an observation by Aaron Swartz, it was mentioned that this engagement depends on the overall living conditions of that individuals.

Given MITs engagement in open access I was now shocked to hear that MIT was apparently involved in charges against Aaron Swartz, which were made because of his release of JSTOR documents. I didn’t know that the charges could have brought him 35 years in prison – I had viewed the JSTOR-release rather as an act of a kind of civil disobedience. I also didn’t know about his apparently rather strong depressions, in fact I never met him, not even communicated with him. I am shocked and very sad to hear about Aaron Swartz suicide. My consolations to his family.
I find it quite evident that such exorbitant charges contributed to his overall psychic condition and the role of the involved institutions and people sheds no good light on them.

Nevertheless in general I think it may be important to speak out about depressions and other comorbidities of academic life (and maybe also other lifes under pressure).

But speaking out alone may – so sad and heart-wrenching – not be enough.

Thus as a consequence of Aaron Swartz death Ian Gent and Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson (via Sarah Kendrew) opened a blog called depressedacademics:

So that’s why I’m starting this blog. Academics should have a place to see other people’s stories. To see that it’s ok to be depressed. To see that it’s normal. To comment and discuss if they want. And to share resources on depression, whether related to academia or not.

…where I am not sure wether it is really good and normal to be depressed. It should also be pointed out that speaking openly out in public about disorders and sicknesses should probably made only by individuals in secure social conditions. Being open about that topic may have severe consequences on your health insurance, occupational disability insurance, work and carrier opportunities etc.

As a side note: There may be a blog freeze on randform. That is my MAC seemed to have died now for sure and I am currently writing on a borrowed one. The laptop made suddenly only more 3 beeps while trying to boot, a signal which means “no good banks”.