L’anticorpo del disordine

Resilience – Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World
Tim Harford

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Punti chiave: Cio’ che fa male fa anche bene (se produce diversità) – Diversificare il rischio produce resilienza – L’impulso burocratico a uniformare – Una triste notizia: noi confondiamo povertà e disordine – Altra triste notizia: confondiamo diversità e disordine – 

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Two centuries after Johann Gottlieb Beckmann had been tidying up messy ancient woodlands into neat rows of Norwegian spruce, the German forests were dying.

Note:LO SPORCO SEGRETO DEI BOTANICI

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merely removing fallen logs and dead trees would result in the loss of almost a third of non-bird wildlife species in a forest…over time they altered the ecology of the forest and exposed the trees to fungi

Note:SOTTOBOSCO

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None of this was anticipated by the foresters of yesteryear.

Note:ESPERTI

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In nature, mess often indicates health – and not only in the forest.

Note:SALUTE E COMPLESSITÀ

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stomach ulcers, which were thought to be caused by stress.

Note:ULCERE E STRESS

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ulcers weren’t caused by stress at all, but by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria, Helicobacter pylori.

Note:L’IDEA DI MARSHALL

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Barry Marshall drank a flask full of H. pylori…Finally Marshall and Warren had the attention of the medical profession….

Note:SPERIMENTAZIONE

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Blaser found that Americans who had H. pylori in their guts were far less likely to suffer from asthma…H. pylori helps prevent obesity by regulating a stomach enzyme called ghrelin…

Note:COLPO DI SCENA: IL BATTERIO FA BENE

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The view used to be that the human body was under assault from bacteria, and that antibiotics were an unalloyed good, albeit one to be used with care lest bacteria evolve resistance.

Note:ORTODOSSIA SUI BATTERI

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Some bacteria are dangerous, some are harmless passengers and some are beneficial. Some, such as H. pylori, can be dangerous or beneficial depending on the situation.

Note:AMICI O NEMICI?

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Martin Blaser has become one of the leading champions of the view that our bacterial guests are starting to become less diverse and that this thinning of the microbiome is doing us harm.

Note:L’ALLARME DI BLASER

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it was easier to stay slim in the 1980s…people today seem to be heavier than their forebears, even when they eat the same and are equally active….

Note:OBESITÀ

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people today have denuded gut bacteria

Note:SPIEGAZIONE

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Lactobacillus sakei – another of those bacteria we have cluttering up our bodies – appears to prevent sinusitis

Note:SINUSITI

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The most disgusting example concerns the treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infections…C. difficile itself is increasingly resistant to antibiotics. But now a near-miraculous cure has been discovered…The treatment in question was faecal microbiota transplantation – which is a polite way to describe blending a healthy person’s excrement with a little salty water, and injecting the mixture into the patient via the obvious orifice….

Note:CLOSTRIDUM

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Why, then, are our microbes going missing? The most obvious culprit is the routine use of antibiotics.

Note:IL DANNO DEGLI ANTIBIOTICI

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A third explanation is the rise of the caesarean section, which is now how almost a third of American babies come into the world. Babies collect a rich broth of microbes from their mothers, but this transfer does not occur in the womb as one might expect. Instead, they are smeared with bacteria as they pass through the birth canal

Note:COLPA DEL CESAREO?

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It is worth acknowledging that these ideas have already become a fad – a great deal of nonsense is now being talked by quacks and purveyors of probiotic yoghurt aiming to promote a ‘healthy microbiome’.

Note:CIARLATANI

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if you try to control a complex system, suppressing or tidying away the parts that seem unimportant, you are likely to discover that those parts turn out to be very important indeed.

Note:CONSEGUENZE NON INTENZIONALI

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Jane Jacobs, urban writer and campaigner, made the case for neighbourhood diversity in The Death and Life of Great American Cities…Diversity at street level was made possible by a mix of offices and homes, stores and workshops. It was also made possible, Jacobs argued, by a mix of old and new buildings….

Note:LA DIVERSITÀ NELLE CITTÀ

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It is preferable, she argued, to have an inefficient hodgepodge of different industries than to specialise in a single industry, however efficient that might seem in the short term. One of her favourite examples was the unromantic mess of Birmingham, the second-largest city in England. Birmingham is famous for making nothing in particular

Note:BIRMINGHAM

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When Jane Jacobs was admiring Birmingham in the early 1960s, her view seemed odd. Detroit, the quintessential one-industry town, was booming…specialised cities were fragile….

Note:DETROIT VS BRMNGHAM

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AnnaLee Saxenian, an economist and political scientist, published a study comparing two famous technology clusters, Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 128.

Note:SILICON VALLEY

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the technology companies of Route 128 – companies such as Wang, Raytheon and Sun – kept themselves in tidy silos, specialising in narrow fields of excellence. The fledgling companies of Silicon Valley sprawled into each other, engineers constantly gossiping with one another

Note:BOSTON ROUTE: ORDINE E STANDARD

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Hidalgo has discovered that there is a strong correlation between being a diversified economy, a complex economy and a rich economy…highly diversified economies also tend to be rich…

Note:RICCHEZZA E DIVERSITÀ

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Diverse economies, like diverse German forests, are more resilient.

Note:CAPACITÀ DI RISPONDERE ALLE CRISI

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The old proverb ‘jack of all trades, master of none’…Perhaps that is true of an individual; it’s not true of a city or a country….

Note:PROVERBI VALIDI PER LE PERSONE MA NON PERLE COMUNITÀ

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If people prefer to live near similar people – perhaps people of the same race, class, ethnicity or income – then even quite mild preferences can lead to marked social segregation.

Note:MA DIVERSIFICARE È UN PROBLEMA

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a bureaucratic desire for tidy, segregated cities is expressed in zoning and planning

Note:IL DESIDERIO DI SEGREGAZIONE DELLA BUROCRAZIA

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Recall how Jane Jacobs’s ballet of Hudson Street relied on the fact that the street was active at any time of day, because so many different kinds of people used it. In contrast, thoroughly zoned neighbourhoods are unbalanced. They are too busy at certain times, deathly quiet at others

Note:DORMITORI

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I had published a study which showed that messy streets lead to greater intolerance. In a messy environment, people are more likely to resort to stereotypes of others…But within a few months of publication, social psychologists received some unsettling news: Diederik Stapel was a fraud….

Note:CASINO E INTOLLERANZA… L’ORDINE CI RENDE PIÙ BUONI? UNO STUDIO FRADOLENTO

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Stapel, the newspaper reported, ‘had been frustrated by the messiness of experimental data, which rarely led to clear conclusions’. His lifelong obsession with elegance and order, he said, led him to concoct sexy results

Note:L’EDITORE VOLEVA RISULTATI CHIARI

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It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty – instead of the truth.’

Note:BELLEZZA CONTRO VERITÀ

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The story of the ‘broken windows’ theory of urban decay is another example of how we instinctively overestimate the benefits of tidying up certain kinds of urban mess.

Note:BROKEN WINDOW SOPRAVVALUTATA

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The truth is that social science has not been able to muster much support for the broken windows theory of policing

Note:POCO SUPPORTO

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four factors seemed to explain the timing, extent and geographical pattern of the fall in crime: more police; a larger prison population (this may deter crime, and will also prevent crimes because would-be criminals are locked up); the waning of an epidemic of crack use; and the legalisation of abortion in the 1970s,

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LEVITT... FATTORI PIÙ INFLUENTI

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Thacher is right – certain kinds of mess are worth tidying up for their own sake. But it’s striking how easily we fall for the old-fashioned idea that ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’

Note:BIAS: DISORDINE => MALE

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Sampson and Raudenbush conducted a survey of thousands of Chicago residents, asking them about their own perceptions of disorder…Then they compared the subjective perceptions…with the objective observations…

Note:DISORDINE PERCEPITO

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Neighbourhoods with many poor families, or with a high proportion of African American residents, or both, were perceived as being more disordered…If we want to predict whether a city block’s residents think that it’s a mess, we would learn more from looking at data on race and poverty…

Note:POVERTÀ SCAMBIATA PER DISORDINE

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Academics with Jewish ancestry found their careers in ruins. The best of them left, seeking less intolerant cultures in Britain and the United States. A torment for those that fled, this policy was also a self-inflicted wound. German science was crippled. Despite a formidable industrial base and engineering tradition, Germany was unable to keep pace with the innovations that emerged from Britain and the United States – often from the very people who had been driven out.

Note:LA RICERCA DEPURATA DAGLI EBREI

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he compared it to the impact of bombing raids on university departments during the war. He found the damage from losing Jewish or dissident scientists was far greater and longer lasting than the damage to offices or laboratory facilities.

Note:WALDINGER

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Ottaviano and Peri found that cities which hosted a complex patchwork of nationalities prospered as a result.

Note:MELTING POT

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Recall that Katherine Phillips and her colleagues found that small student groups disliked having a stranger in their midst, even as the stranger was helping them solve the murder-mystery problem they faced.

IL CORPO ESTRANEO

 

Il paradosso dell’automazione

Automation ‘But what’s happening?’ Flight 447 and the Jennifer unit: When human messiness protects us from computerised disaster – Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World – Tim Harford –

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Punti chiave: L’automazione diffusa erode le nostre competenze – Il pilota automatico in aeronautica – I guai di un aereo troppo sicuro –  paradosso dell’automazione – multe in automatico, azzeramento capacità d’indagine e deresponsabilizzazione –  I giapponesi finiti nell’oceano con il gps – Il robot che più preoccupa non è quello che ci sostituisce nel lavoro ma nel giudizio – Meteorologi: prima prevedere, poi consultare il computer – I problemoni dell’auto che si guida da sé – Soluzioni al paradosso dell’automazione – Puo’ aiutare un computer che sbaglia più frequentemente – Una strada più incasinata ci rende guitadori più concentrati e prudenti –

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Pierre-Cédric Bonin, thirty-two, was young and inexperienced. David Robert, thirty-seven, had more experience but he had recently become an Air France manager and no longer flew full-time. Captain Marc Dubois, fifty-eight, had experience aplenty but he’d been touring Rio with an off-duty flight attendant. It was later reported that he had only had an hour’s sleep.

Note:UNA CREW CON I SUOI DIFETTI

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paradoxically, there is a risk to building a plane that protects pilots so assiduously from even the tiniest error. It means that when something challenging does occur, the pilots will have very little experience to draw on as they try to meet that challenge.

Note:GLI INCONVENIENTI DI UN AEREO TROPPO SICURO

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the real source of the problem was the system that had done so much to keep A330s safe across fifteen years and millions of miles of flying: the fly-by-wire. Or more precisely, the problem was not the fly-by-wire system, but the fact that the pilots had grown to rely on that system…Aggravating this mode confusion was Bonin’s lack of experience in flying a plane without computer assistance. While he had spent many hours in the cockpit of the A330, most of those hours had been spent monitoring and adjusting the plane’s computers rather than directly flying the aircraft….

Note:FLY BY WIRE

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This problem has a name: the paradox of automation…The better the automatic systems, the more out-of-practice human operators will be,…

Note:PARADOSSO DELL’AUTOMAZIONE

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The psychologist James Reason, author of Human Error, wrote: ‘Manual control is a highly skilled activity, and skills need to be practised continuously in order to maintain them.

Note:SKILL E ABITUDINE

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automatic systems accommodate incompetence

Note:INCOMPETENZE SMASCHERATE

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even if operators are expert, automatic systems erode their skills

Note:EROSIONE

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systems tend to fail either in unusual situations or in ways that produce unusual situations, requiring a particularly skilful human response.

Note:SITUAZIONI ECCEZIONALE

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A customer service webpage may be able to handle routine complaints and requests, so that customer service staff are spared repetitive work and may do a better job for customers

Note:TECNOLOGIA SENZA PARADOSSI

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Earl Wiener, a cult figure in aviation safety who died in 2013, coined what’s known as ‘Wiener’s Laws’ of aviation and human error. One of them was, ‘Digital devices tune out small errors while creating opportunities for large errors.’

Note:LA LEGGE DI WIENER

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At 14 seconds after 8.08 p.m. on 20 December 2013, his car had been blocking a bus stop in Bradford, Yorkshire, and had been photographed by a camera mounted in a traffic enforcement van driving past. A computer had identified the licence plate… There was just one problem: Mr Hankins hadn’t been illegally parked at all. He had been stuck in traffic….Yellow highlight | Location: 2,813
There was just one problem: Mr Hankins hadn’t been illegally parked at all. He had been stuck in traffic….

Note:LA MULTA AUTOMATICA AL SIG HANKINS

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In principle, such technology should not fall victim to the paradox of automation. It should free up humans to do more interesting and varied work – checking the anomalous cases

Note:AZZERATA LA CAPACITÀ D’INDAGINE

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Google unveiled a neural network that could identify house numbers in photographs…what if Google improves its accuracy by a factor of a million?…

Note:GOOGLE CI GUARDA IN CASA

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when someone says the computer made a mistake, we will assume they are wrong or lying.

Note:ERRORI DEL COMPUTER

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What happens when private security guards throw you out of your local shopping centre because a computer has mistaken your face for that of a known shoplifter?

Note:LA FACCIA SBAGLIATA

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Rahinah – visiting her home country of Malaysia – was told at the airport that her US student visa had been revoked without notice. Despite being the mother of an American citizen, she would never be able to return to the United States…Rahinah had been put on a no-fly list by mistake – possibly the result of confusion between Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group, which killed 202 people with a car bomb in Bali in 2002, and Jemaah Islah Malaysia, a professional association of Malaysians who have studied overseas. Rahinah was a member of the second group, not the first. Once that error had entered the database it acquired the iron authority of the computer….

Note:RAHINAH

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Yet automatic systems want to be tidy. Once an algorithm or a database has placed you in a particular category, the black-and-white definitions of the data discourage argument and uncertainty.

Note:LA MALEDIZIONE DEPL BIANCO E NERO

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We are now on more lists than ever before: lists of criminals; lists of free-spending shoppers;

Note:LISTE

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we have not yet acknowledged how imperfectly a tidy database maps on to a messy world.

Note:DATI CHIARI MONDO CAOTICO

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the database and the algorithm, like the autopilot, should be there to support human decision-making.

Note:SOLO LA COPPIA FUNZIONA

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In March 2012, three Japanese students visiting Australia decided to drive to North Stradbroke, guided by their GPS system. For some reason the GPS was not aware that their route was blocked by nine miles of the Pacific Ocean…in thrall to their technology, they drove their car on to the beach and across the mud flats towards the ocean….

Note:GIAPPONESI IN AUSTRALIA

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Automated systems tend to lull us into passivity.

Note:PASSIVI

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This tendency to passively accept the default option turns out to apply to automated decisions too; psychologists call it automation bias.

Note:AUTOMATATION BIAS

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Driving your car into the sea is an extreme example of automation bias, but most GPS users will recognise the tendency in a milder form….Not knowing why the GPS failed me, I have no way of predicting when it might do so again….

Note:GPS

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When the algorithms are making the decisions, people often stop working to get better.

Note:MIGLIORARE

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engineers make the problem worse by deliberately designing systems to supplant human expertise by default; if we wish instead to use them to support human expertise, we need to wrestle with the system.

Note:AFFIANCAMENTO E RIMPIAZZO

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We worry that the robots are taking our jobs, but just as common a problem is that the robots are taking our judgement.

ote:ROBOT E LAVORO

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You could even argue that the financial crisis of 2007–8, which plunged the world into recession, was analogous to absent-mindedly driving a car into the Pacific.

Note:CRISI FINANZIARIA

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if that grizzled market participant had been able to talk to the computers, the computers would have been able to demonstrate the catastrophic impact of such a crash on the value of CDOs. Unfortunately, there was no meeting of minds

Note:AUTOMATISMI LASCIATI A SE STESSI

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veteran meteorologists would make weather forecasts first by looking at the data and forming an expert judgement; only then would they look at the computerised forecast

Note:LA STRATEGIA DEI METEOREOLOGI

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Chris Urmson, who runs Google’s self-driving car programme, hopes that the cars will soon be so widely available that his sons will never need to have a driving licence.

Note:SELF DRIVING CAR

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unlike a plane’s autopilot, a self-driving car will never need to cede control

Note:UN PERENNE PILOTA AUTOMATICO

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we can look forward to a more gradual process of letting the car drive itself in easier conditions…‘There will always be some edge cases where things do go beyond anybody’s control.’…

Note:RAJKUMAR E IL GRADUALISMO

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if we expect the human to leap in and take over, how will the human be able to react appropriately?

Note:L’ASPETTO DIFFICOLTOSO

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Human beings are not used to driving automated vehicles, so we really don’t know how drivers are going to react when the driving is taken over by the car,’ says Anuj K. Pradhan

Note:L‘INCOGNITA

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And when the computer gives control back to the driver, it may well do so in the most extreme and challenging situations.

Note:SITUAZIONI AL LIMITE

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No matter how many years of experience a driver has, her skills will slowly erode if she lets the computer take over.

Note:L’ESPERIENZA CONTA POCO

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‘I wasn’t parked illegally, I was stuck in traffic’; or ‘That’s not a terrorist group, it’s an alumni association.’ Does more efficient service in the majority of cases justify trapping a small number of individuals in Kafkaesque battles against bureaucracy?

Note:BUROCRAZIA KAFKIANA

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Until the late 1970s, one could reliably expect at least twenty-five fatal commercial plane crashes a year. In 2009, Air France 447 was one of just eight crashes, a safety record. The cost–benefit analysis seems clear: freakish accidents like Flight 447 are a price worth paying,

Note:IL TREND

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One priority could be to make semi-automated systems give feedback in a way that humans feel more viscerally.

Note:SOLUZIONE FEEDBACK

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Some senior pilots urge their juniors to turn off the autopilots from time to time to maintain their skills.

ote:SOLUZIONE ALLENAMENTO

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An alternative solution is to reverse the role of computer and human. Rather than letting the computer fly the plane with the human poised to take over when the computer cannot cope

Note:SOLUZIONE INVERTIRE I RUOLI

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Unsurprisingly, the scientists showed that reaction times and other measures of performance dramatically deteriorated as the hours ticked by.

Note:TEMPI DI REAZIONE

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behaviour suggests that when humans are asked to babysit computers, the computers themselves should be programmed to serve up occasional brief diversions. Even better might be an automated system that demanded more input, more often, from the human

Note:UN COMPUER CHE SBAGLIA DI FREQUENTE PUÒ AIUTARE

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Control measures such as traffic lights and speed bumps frustrated drivers, who would often speed dangerously between one measure and another.

Note:LIMITARE LA VELOCITÀ

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He suggested that the road through Oudehaske be made to look more like what it already was: a road through a village.

Note:SOLUZIONE MONDERMAN

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Where once drivers had, figuratively speaking, sped through the village on autopilot – not really attending to what they were doing – now they were faced with a messy situation and had to engage their brains…As Tom Vanderbilt describes Monderman’s strategy, ‘Rather than clarity and segregation, he had created confusion and ambiguity.’…

Note:UNA SITUAZIONE INCASINATA CI FA CONCENTRARE

 

Quando la protezione civile fa la guerra ai poveri

Disaster Relief  -More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
Steven E. Landsburg

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Punti chiave: La guerra ai poveri si fa costringendoli a comprare cose costose – se si mette tutto in sicurezza, tutto sarà più costoso – La protezione civile non rispetta le esigenze dei poveri – I servizi di protezione civile i pennano i costi delle case in zone rischiose – 

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Poor people, far more than rich people, need to watch their budgets. They buy cheaper clothes, cheaper food, and cheaper housing. They’re even willing to live on floodplains

Note:I BISOGNI DEL POVERO

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They can live cheaply but dangerously, or they can pay more and be safer…But a policy of federal disaster assistance tends to erase that choice…

Note:DILEMMA

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If the government stands ready to (literally) bail out New Orleans by raising taxes in Kansas City, then New Orleans housing prices rise and Kansas City housing prices fall. You can no longer escape the risk of a flood by moving to Kansas City; you can no longer reap the benefits of accepting the full risk by moving to New Orleans.

Note:ES. KANSAS E NEW ORLEANS

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It’s good to have cities with different cultures, it’s good to have cities with different musical heritages, and it’s good to have cities with different risk characteristics.

Note:W LA DIFFERENZA

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poor people are disproportionately hurt when disaster-assistance policies make cheap housing more expensive.

Note:BORTOLASO MALTRATTA I POVERI

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we give them disaster relief (which is good) and simultaneously raise their housing costs (which is bad)?

COSTI E BENEFICI

 

Sei razzista?

Racial Profiling – More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
Steven E. Landsburg

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Punti chiave: Non è facile essere razzisti – Chi è razionale non puo’ essere razzista – Il test del posto di blocco – 

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Blacks were three-and-a-half times as likely as whites to be stopped and searched.

Note:NERI AL POSTO DI BLOCCO

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Let’s look at the evidence. Among whites who were stopped, about one-third of one percent were caught with drugs. Among blacks who were stopped, the fraction was—almost exactly the same.

Note:BECCATI CON LA ROBA… NUMERI

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blacks carried drugs just as frequently as whites even though they were three-and-a-half times as likely to be stopped.

Note:INCENTIVI

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blacks had a much greater propensity than whites to carry drugs

Note:INCLINAZIONE

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Another correct conclusion is that the police had no particular animus toward black people.

Note:ZERO RAZZISMO

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If the police actually bore some animus toward blacks, you’d expect them to go further—cracking down on blacks to the point where very few blacks would dare to carry drugs. Then we’d see a lower conviction rate for blacks

Note:IL POLIZIOTTO RAZZISTA

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By that standard, it’s not blacks but Hispanics who have cause for complaint.

Note:RAZZISMO VS GLI ISPANICI. TROPPI BLOCCHI RISPETTO ALLA PROB. DI ARRESTO

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If, like me, you consider the Drug War a moral outrage, you’ll be distressed to learn that the police are maximizing drug convictions.

Note:PECCATO CHE LA POLIZIA NON SIA RAZZISTA

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If you really want to retard drug traffic, you should maximize not convictions, but deterrence.

Note:MAX ARRESTI E MAX DETERRENZA

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you should probably stop more whites, because there are more whites in the population to deter.

Note:POPOLAZIONE DEI BIANCHI E DEI NERI

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After all, one-third of one percent of whites represents a lot more motorists—and a lot more drugs—than one-third of one percent of blacks.

Note:LA DETERRENZA SU BIANCHI E NERI È LA STESSA MA I BIANCHI SONO DI PIÙ

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fewer arrests (to appeal to the libertarians) and greater deterrence

Note:MENO ARRESTI MA PIÙ DETERRENZA

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Racist police would have stopped even more blacks; police who cared about deterrence (as opposed to convictions) would have stopped more whites.

CONCLUSIONI

 

Causa o correlazione?

The High Price of Motherhood – More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
Steven E. Landsburg

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Punti chiave: L’economista è un tale che dimestiera cerca di distinguere le cause dalle correlazioni. E’ abbastanza ridicolo lo spettacolo che offre chi gli ricorda che cause e correlazioni sono cose diverse – Nessuno ricorderebbe ad un biologo di lavare le provette – Segue esempio standard di quel che fa l’economista

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facing difficult trade-offs between family and career.

Note:IL DILEMMA STUDIATO DA AMALIA MILLER

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On average, a woman in her twenties will increase her lifetime earnings by 10 percent if she delays the birth of her first child by a year…For college-educated women, the effects are even bigger…

Note:RITARDO MATERNITÀ E REDDITO

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A woman who gives birth at 24 might be a different sort of person from a woman who gives birth at 25… Maybe the 24-year-old is less ambitious…

Note:PRIMA DIFFICOLTÀ

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Instead of comparing random 24-year-old mothers with random 25-year-old mothers, she effectively compared 24-year-old mothers with 25-year-old mothers who had miscarried at 24.

Note:TRUCCO: COMPARARE SOLO CHI HA AVUTO UN FIGLIO A 25 MA UN ABORTO SPONTANEO A 24

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But the comparison is still imperfect. Maybe miscarriages and low wages have a common cause—poor health, for example.

Note:SECONDA DIFFICOLTÀ

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Let’s compare 25-year-old mothers with those 24-year-old mothers who conceived while using birth control. Now you’ve got two groups of women, none of whom wanted to be pregnant at 24.

Note:ALTERNATIVA: CONFRONTARE SOLO LA GRAVIDANZA NON VOLUTA A 24 CON LA GRAVIDANZA A 25

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Again, the experiment is imperfect. Getting pregnant while on birth control might be a symptom of carelessness, and carelessness can be a liability in the workplace.

Note:TERZA DIFFICOLTÀ

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a bunch of women who all report that they’d been trying to get pregnant since they were 23. Some succeeded at 24; others at 25.

Note:CONFRONTARE SOLO DONNE CHE CERCAVANO UN FIGLIO A 23 ANNI

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None of these experiments—the miscarriage experiment, the birth-control experiment, and the “trying to get pregnant” experiment—is perfect, but all three point to the same conclusion.

Note:CONCLUSIONI UNIFORMI

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In this case, the result is that early motherhood is not only correlated with low wages; it actually causes them. That’s largely what good empirical economics is about—finding thoughtful and creative ways to distinguish between correlation and causation.

Note:ESSENZA DELLA BUONA ECONOMISTA

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Reminding an economist that correlation does not imply causation is like reminding a chemist to be sure his test tubes are clean.

ECONOMISTI E BIOLOGI

 

In difesa del lavoro minorile

Children at Work – More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
Steven E. Landsburg –

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Punti chiave: L’ Africa di oggi è un po’ come l’ottocento europeo (dove non esistevano multinazionali sfruttatrici): chi allora avesse invocato leggi contro il lavoro minorile nel nostro continente sarebbe stato, giustamente, considerato un pazzo – Considerate una legge che ci obbligasse a comprare una Ferrari. Come la giudichereste? – Le scelte dei poveri sono generalmente assennate, comprese quelle dei genitori poveri – La nostra esperienza: è la ricchezza a togliere i bambini dal posto di lavoro, non le leggi – Vuoi aiutare l’Africa? manda soldi, evita leggi cervellotiche che probabilmente si riveleranno dannose – 

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Dr. David Livingstone, the African explorer, medical missionary, and hero of the Victorian Age, began his career at age ten, working 84-hour weeks at the local cotton mill.

Note:LIVINGSTONE

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protesters’ call for trade agreements that “protect” third-world children by limiting the number of hours they can work

Note:LA PROTEZIONE INVOCATA

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Being poor means making hard choices, such as whether to work more or to eat less.

Note:LE SCELTE DEI POVERI

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In fact, third worlders are making pretty much exactly the same choices that Americans and other Westerners made, back in the nineteenth century

Note:OTTOCENTO EUROPEO

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In England in 1860, about 37 percent of 10-to 14-year-old boys were classified as “gainfully employed”…In present-day Africa, it’s under 30 percent, and in India it’s half that….

Note:PERCENTUALI

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In the United States between 1890 and 1930, per capita income rose by 75 percent and child labor fell by about the same percentage.

Note:PIÙ RICCHI MENO BIMBI AL LAVORO

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there were no foreign corporations in Victorian Britain and children went to work just the same.

Note:LE CATTIVA MULTINAZIONALI CHE NON C’ERANO NELL’OTTOCENTO

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Multiple studies have shown that in developing countries, most parents take their children out of the labor force as soon as they can afford to.

Note:GENITORI CHE VOGLIONO BENE AI LORO FIGLI

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If there’s a key difference between Western historical experience and the current situation in the third world, it’s this: when we were poor, nobody else was rich

Note:LA DIFFERENZA

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responses endorsed by the anti-sweatshop crowd—kick back, relax, keep your environment clean, and don’t worry so much about where your next meal is coming from—are responses that have never worked well for poor

Note:RILASSATEVI!

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If you think you can make third worlders better off by forcing them to make first-world-style decisions about labor and the environment, why stop there? Why not require them all to buy Sony PlayStations?

FERRARI OBBLIGATORIA!

 

Elogio di Scrooge

What I Like About Scrooge – More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics – Steven E. Landsburg

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Punti chiave: La generosità dell’avare sfugge solo a chi confonde l’avarizia con l’egoismo – Filantropia e avarizia: beneficare tutti e beneficare alcuni – L’avarizia va sussidiata. Come? Tassando i consumi – Chi produce senza consumare (Scrooge) e chi consuma senza produrre  (il cercatore d’oro) – Scrooge: un simbolo contro l’edonismo consumista

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Scrooge has been called ungenerous. I say that’s a bum rap. What could be more generous than keeping your lamps unlit and your plate unfilled, leaving more fuel for others to burn and more food for others to eat?

Note:LA GENEROSITÀ DI SCROOGE

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The only difference between miserliness and philanthrophy is that the philanthropist serves a favored few while the miser spreads his largesse far and wide.

Note:FILANTROPO E AVARO

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If you earn a dollar but refuse to spend a dollar, the rest of the world is one dollar richer—because

Note:DOLLARO PRODOTTO E NON CONSUMATO

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Put a dollar in the bank and you’ll bid down the interest rate

Note:CHI BENEFICIA DI QUESTA GENEROSITÀ

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Put a dollar in your mattress and (by effectively reducing the money supply) you’ll drive down prices by just enough so someone somewhere can have an extra dollar’s worth of coffee with his dinner.

Note:MATERASSO

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Ebenezer Scrooge lowered interest rates. Scrooge McDuck lowered prices.

Note:GIÙ I PREZZI PER TUTTI

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One reader actually told me that “the gold Scrooge hoarded could have fed the coal miner’s starving children.” No, actually it couldn’t have. Gold is rather low in protein,..You can trade gold for food, but then someone else eats less….

Note:LE PROTEINE DELL’ORO

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Was Scrooge selfish? Surely not. He was miserly, which is a different thing altogether. Selfishness is all about claiming a bigger share

Note:AVARO E EGOISTA

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For as long as they were digging in the gold mines, every one of those young ambitious men was unavailable to work a farm, manage a grocery store, or start a business…Some miners made fortunes, but no miner was socially productive….

Note:GOLD RUSH... L’EQUIVALENTE DI UNA GUERRA

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There are two ways to get rich. You can create new wealth or you can take someone else’s. The miner who strikes gold creates (almost) no wealth, yet he ends up wealthy…The unsuccessful miner gains nothing for himself and imposes no costs on his neighbors. The successful miner earns a fortune and costs his neighbors a collective fortune…

Note:LA CACCIA ALL’ ORO: IL COSTO DELLA STAMPANTE

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In poker, as in gold mining, you can’t win unless someone else loses.

Note:POKER

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But a miser is the mirror image of a miner—what the miner digs up, the miser (at least figuratively, and sometimes literally) buries right back in the ground.

Note:L’AVARO È L’ ANTI MINATORE

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Saving is philanthropy, and the tax system should recognize as much. If there’s a tax deduction for charitable giving, there should be a tax deduction for saving.

Note:IL RISPARMIO È FILANTROPIA: ESENTIAMOLO DALLE TASSE

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If Christmas is the season of selflessness, then surely one of the great symbols of Christmas should be Ebenezer Scrooge—the old Scrooge, not the reformed one.

CONTRO L‘EDONISMO CONSUMISTA