September 24th, 2009

green leaves

It's funny how ethics and pragmatism overlap

Torture makes it harder for people to remember accurately.
Neurochemical studies have revealed that the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, brain regions integral to the process of memory, are rich in receptors for hormones that are activated by stress and sleep deprivation and which have been shown to have deleterious effects on memory. "To briefly summarize a vast, complex literature, prolonged and extreme stress inhibits the biological processes believed to support memory in the brain," says O'Mara. "For example, studies of extreme stress with Special Forces Soldiers have found that recall of previously-learned information was impaired after stress occurred." Waterboarding in particular is an extreme stressor and has the potential to elicit widespread stress-induced changes in the brain.

This matches something that occurred to me when I first heard about sleep deprivation and torture-- if I'm even moderately tired, it's much harder for me to remember details about when, where, and with whom something happened.

Link thanks to ookpik.
green leaves

The Future of Computing

Computing twenty years from now

What an incredible opportunity! You get to make totally outrageous statements that you’ll never be held accountable for! How about offshore data centers, powered by wave motion, continuously serviced by autonomous robots with salamander-level consciousness, spidering around replacing chicklet-sized compute units, all made by the world’s largest computer vendor – Haier! [They make refrigerators.] And lots of graphs, all going up to the right!

He says reasonable things, like that Moore's Law will die with a whimper, not a bang. He thinks it's already slowing down.
Link thanks to andrewducker.
green leaves

About those bonuses

I just heard a bit on NPR which mentioned banks(?) which gave bonuses to people who talked home buyers into loans with higher interest rates than the buyers qualified for.

I haven't been able to verify this, but if it happened, it was quite a disgusting practice.

I'm wondering whether it would be a good idea to require that bonus schemes be made public.

Addendum: Check out Hard Facts, a book about research on what does and doesn't work in management-- it has quite a bit about how hard it is to devise an incentive scheme which actually encourages the behavior you hope you're rewarding.