Tag Archives: Financial Crisis

Risky Business

I came across the following whilst finishing my paper Scheduling in the Age of Complexity.

Statistical and applied probabilistic knowledge is the core of knowledge; statistics is what tells you if something is true, false, or merely anecdotal; it is the “logic of science”; it is the instrument of risk-taking; it is the applied tools of epistemology; you can’t be a modern intellectual and not think probabilistically—but… let’s not be suckers. The problem is much more complicated than it seems to the casual, mechanistic user who picked it up in graduate school. Statistics can fool you. In fact it is fooling your government right now. It can even bankrupt the system (let’s face it: use of probabilistic methods for the estimation of risks did just blow up the banking system).

The quote is from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Black Swan and Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute.

Read his full essay, THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS, at http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/taleb08/taleb08_index.html and you will start to understand the current financial crisis.

Can Bob the Builder save the world economy??

One of the construction industries best know characters (if you are under 5) Bob the Builder, is front and centre of the efforts to save the world’s economy.

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder

As a start, his construction team’s cry of ‘YES WE CAN’ has been central to the Barak Obama election campaign. But this is only the beginning.

Obama in the USA, Kevin Rudd in Australia and a range of other governments are now asking the whole of the construction industry Bob’s key question “Can we fix it?”  Hopefully the answer is ‘YES WE CAN’. The amount of money being directed to construction projects to provide stimulus to the economy is enormous and will require a major response if the funds are to be well spent. As an industry we need to provide value and quality for the money being invested.

This opens up a two of interesting challenges:

  • How are we going to meet the current short term demand for professional constructors? Possibly by attracting with people with project management, administration and scheduling people from the depressed IT industry – project management is supposed to be a portable discipline.
  • How are we going to meet the looming long term skills shortage? Maybe one way to attract talent would be for the construction industry to set up a ‘Bob the Builder’ fund to ensure every child under 5 has access to this wonderful range of toys. After all as the old adage goes “The only difference between men and boys is the size of their shoes and the price of their toys” how hard will it be to persuade a young graduate it is nearly as much fun directing the operations of a back hoe, JCB or equivalent as playing with Scoop or Muck??
Bob and Friends

Bob and Friends

There are some interesting challenges ahead and Bob the Builder may not be able to fix everything but for the rest of us in the construction industry we have our work cut out.

Can we do it?    I certainly hope we can!

Note: Bob the Builder is a copyright brand owned by HIT Entertainment Limited