I don’t have hard numbers for backing the following statement, but definitely, I have enough anecdotal evidence for bringing it forward: Women travel more than men. For me, this was not a sudden realization but rather a gradual process of awakening over the years, after learning the stories of many women in my life that have decided to make traveling a serious purpose in their lives. First, it was a cousin, then a couple of friends, then a colleague, and then a girlfriend. One by one I would hear about their big and small adventures, either crossing the channel or crossing the world.
Continue reading “Why Do Women Travel More than Men?”
In 1969, during the war for the supremacy in Artificial Intelligence, the symbolists dropped a bomb over their adversaries, the connectionists, that proved to be so destructive that it stopped the advance of what later would be known as Machine Learning in its tracks, bringing to a closure a conflict that has lasted over a decade. Fifty years have passed since these events, and the fortunes of both camps have reversed completely: While ML is on everyone’s lips, heralded as the engine of the next technological revolution, only a few readers would be familiar with the work of the symbolists.
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Mathematics in middle and high school should be an optional subject, only taught to those students who have a genuine taste for it. It should not be part of the core program as it happens now, imposed on everybody as some form of a ritual of passage, separating the virtuous from the unworthy in our society. It should not have a preferred place in the academic program, hovering above the rest of the subjects. Arts, literature, philosophy, physical education: they should all be regarded with just the same deference as math. But most important of all, mathematics should not be a weapon to terrorize millions of kids that grow up with some form of post-traumatic disorder, victims of our obsession with treating mathematics as some form of divine discipline.
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Last year a dozen friends or so approached me, wanting to know my opinion about how useful would it be for them to learn computer programming. The common feeling was that the job market was demanding that type of skills, particularly for roles on data science, and learning them could open some attractive doors. However, the over-abundance of books, online courses, and videos on the topic clutters the view and makes it difficult to decide where to begin. “Which are the good courses?”, “What language to learn?”, “How long would it take?”, and more importantly, “Would it be worth it?”
Continue reading “Programming might not be what you think it is”
For many people, “finance” and “innovation” are two words that can’t possibly mix well in the same sentence, unless it is to make a witty comment like the one made once by Paul Volcker, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve: “Financial innovation peaked twenty years ago… with the invention of the ATM”. While the world of technology enriches our bourgeois lives with gaming consoles, smartphones, and self-driving cars, banks seem to bring to the party only boring interest rates, mortgage-back securities and power reverse dual-currency notes – hardly the matter to show off on Instagram.
Continue reading “You Can’t Beat the Market: Jack Bogle’s Revolutionary Invention”
And when the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not damage the oil and the wine.” – Revelation 6:5-6
Evgeny Yakovlevich Remez was a young professor of Mathematics at the Pedagogical Institute in Kiev when Famine, the third horse of the Apocalypse, rode across Ukraine, bringing despair, horror, and death. It was the early 1930s, and the agricultural collectivization imposed by Stalin depleted the country’s reserves of grain, choking its capability to feed its population. In just a couple of years, the situation became so dire that it triggered one of the worst human-made famine tragedies ever seen in this planet. This event, the Holodomor, which in Ukrainian means “death by hunger”, is undoubtedly one of the darkest pages in the long book of nightmares written in the 20th century.
Continue reading “Beauty in Times of Horror”
Last week the front-page of newspapers all over the world announced that Ultima Thule, a snowman-shaped object located 6.5-billion km from Earth, had been finally approached by Nasa’ New Horizons probe, becoming this way the farthest body in the Solar System to be visited by a spacecraft.
Looking at the gorgeous pictures of the rock, floating silently beyond Pluto, I could only think how far we have come in the exploration of space since we launched the first space probes just over 60 years ago. If we have done so much in just a few decades, what could the skies be holding for us in what remains of this century? As Yogi Berra put it, “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” so I claim neither exceptional foresight nor particular creativity for this list of ten predictions that I wrote down when trying to answer that question:
Continue reading “Ten Predictions for Space Exploration in the 21st Century”