Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for June, 2015

Is Prudence Ethical?

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A good friend of mind has often said “prudence is ethical”.  As with many things, I believe this depends upon what we mean by “prudence”.

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 29th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Philosophy

Thought of the Day: “You don’t need to be a toilet to see a shit storm coming!”

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You don’t need to be a toilet to see a shit storm coming
– Jacob J. Walker

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 27th, 2015 at 10:38 am

Posted in Original Quotes

How should we Engineer the Automated Economy?

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In my recent commencement address to the Sacramento Stride Center graduates, I talked about how truck driving is a good job now, but I worry it will be going away.   I am not alone in this concern, as a few days later, on “The Take Away” that I heard listening to NPR, there was a whole news story titled: Self-Driving Trucks Take to America’s Roads.

There is a bigger issue afoot from this: will we be slaves to the automation or will it set us free? Because without deliberate action in the shaping of our economy, economic forces could very well push us to complete monopolies in the means of production.  (Yes, I know you say that we already have government legal safe guards…  but the Citizens United ruling shows a trend towards eroding these to non-existence.)

The following are some proposals for shaping our economic system:

I will discuss each of these in future posts, but it is the last one that I believe would be best for society (as it is best for individuals), and that could be accomplished by strengthening some of the current trends.

Written by Jacob Walker

June 24th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Solution to Google Drive Problem of Not Synchronizing Shared Files and Folders on One Users System

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What do you do when technology that is meant to “auto-magically work” doesn’t?  This was a problem I faced recently with Google Drive, when one of our users was missing a lot of files an folders on her hard disk, that were clearly in a shared Google Drive folder.

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 23rd, 2015 at 11:59 am

Thought of the Day: “All Models are Wrong, but some are Useful” – George E. P. Box

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While this was written in the 1987 book, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces (and discovered by me today in the Economist Espresso App), which focused on statistical model building, its pragmatic message has much truth: the value of a model is how well it can be used in context.

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 22nd, 2015 at 11:59 am

My Graduation Address to the Sacramento Stride Center Graduates

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Photo of Jacob J. Walker Giving Graduation Address at the 2015 Sacramento Stride GraduationTonight, I had the honor to speak at the Sacramento Stride Center graduation. Stride empowers economic self-sufficiency for individuals through technology training, and this year Highlands Community Charter School formed a partnership with them.  Here is what I said:

Stride graduates: today is a milestone on your road to nerdom. I know some of you never thought you would have that term used to describe you, but I hope you take the word “nerd” with pride, because as Charles J Sykes wrote “Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them.”

For better or worse, technology is profoundly changing our world, including the economics. In fact, it can be argued that the biggest force that is leading to the greater disparity between the rich and the poor is the fact that productivity gains no longer lead to higher paying jobs for most people, but only leads to higher paying jobs for the few who have the knowledge and skills to work integrally with the technology.

As you know, Highlands Community Charter School, has a partnership with Stride, and at our charter school we have other career programs, including truck driving. I believe truck driving is a valuable job skill, as it is the truckers who currently keep the economy moving. There would be no Amazon, at this time without trucks. And I know that my driving skills are not at a place where I should be trusted behind the wheel of a big rig. But, I also see the danger in the future for the truck driving profession. While autonomous cars from Google are getting the headlines, with less fanfare autonomous trucks are being developed right now.

This is why your path to nerdom is valuable. You have now gone beyond being a user of technology to being a technician. You have the skills to solve basic hardware and software problems. And this may be enough for many of you, as technicians can make good money. But I want you to dream higher, I want you to know that you can do more. There are jobs that pay $90,000 a year that you can obtain. But it will require you to continue to learn, both formally and informally. And all of these jobs, require you to become more than a technician.

This starts with learning a programming language. Many of you know I am a fan of Python, but Ruby, PHP, Java, C, VB, and others are all valuable. This also means you must learn deeper not only about what to do when a problem happens, but to truly have an accurate mental model about why the problem is happening. And this means that you need to understand computer security at a deep level. Our nation is literally under cyberattack from Russia, North Korea, and China, and it will literally be the nerds that have the only chance of saving us.

So please, embrace being a nerd. As geek is chic. And strive to become an uber nerd, otherwise known as a “nerd of nerds”.

Thank you, and congratulations!

Written by Jacob Walker

June 18th, 2015 at 10:59 pm