Wednesday, January 10, 2018

more conspiracy theories

facepalm af
Recently, this illustration has been passed around, offering an explanation of how the world really works:

(High res here.)

It tries to expose the sinister levels of deception and manipulation behind our apparent reality. The picture originated here (from Autonomous on 4chan, but has been taken down) and was popularized here (MAGA Pill tweet). It has been called The Swamp or Down the Rabbit Hole.

For my own take on conspiracy theories, see this post. As an author of the study that produced the following figures appearing in the illustration (see right-hand side of the first level down)

I would like to comment the following.

Regarding the topic of the media (at the top level) I would focus on false news, post-truth, conspiracy theories, filter bubbles, echo chambers, lies (yes, alternative facts), hidden agendas, divisiveness, hatred, and propaganda. Relating to the overall state of affairs, this perhaps summarizes best:
As a species, our recent terraforming activities have fundamentally transformed the biosphere we rely on, resulting in considerable impact for us individually. In a nutshell, we have devised linear systems that extract resources at one end, which, after being consumed, are disposed of at the other end. However, on a finite planet, extraction soon becomes exploitation and disposal results in pollution. 
Today, this can be witnesses at unprecedented global scales. Just consider the following: substantial levels of pesticides and BPA in vast populations and even remote populations (like Inuit women whose breast milk is toxic due to pollutants accumulating in the ocean’s food chain), increase of chronic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, the Great Pacific and the North Atlantic garbage patches, e-waste, exploding levels of greenhouse gases, peak oil and phosphorus, land degradation, deforestation, water pollution, food waste, overfishing, dramatic loss of biodiversity,. . . The list is constantly growing as we await the arrival of the next billion human inhabitants on this planet. 
Compounding this acute problem is the fact that today’s generations are living at the expense of future generations, ecologically and economically. For instance, we have reached Earth Overshoot Day in 2015 on the 13th of August. Each year, this day measures when human consumption of Earth’s natural resources, or humanity’s ecological footprint, approximately reaches the world’s biocapacity to generated those natural resources in a year. Since the introduction of this measure in 1970, when the 23rd of December marked Earth Overshoot Day, this tipping point has been occurring earlier and earlier. Moreover, just check the Global Debt Clock, recording public debt worldwide, to see an incomprehensibly and frighteningly high figure, casting an ominous shadow over future prosperity. Yes, the outlook is very dire indeed.

(Taken from my contribution to HOW TO SAVE HUMANITY)

OK, let's dive down the rabbit hole. Can we please add people like Charles and David Koch, Rupert Murdoch, and corporate and finance tycoons to the list, thank you. By the way, my statement on the question if our study has exposed a global conspiracy, unmasking the all-controlling, all-powerful Illuminati:
What should you take home from all of this? Well, the high degree of control you saw is very extreme by any standard. The high degree of interconnectivity of the top players in the core could pose a significant systemic risk to the global economy. And we could easily reproduce the TNC network with a few simple rules. This means that its structure is probably the result of self-organization. It's an emergent property which depends on the rules of interaction in the system, so it's probably not the result of a top-down approach like a global conspiracy.

So far so good. Regardless through which political lens you choose to view the world, the status quo appears deficient and things could be arguably a lot better. Power and wealth have accumulated in the hands of very few, a condition accompanying the human species since over ten millennia.

Moving on to the second and third levels down the rabbit hole. This is where things become unsavory and appalling. This is where the batshit crazy enters and I am not talking about the pathological paranoia (advanced secret space programs, "certain" bloodline families dominating all aspects of our lives, trauma-based mind control, ...). No, I am talking about this:

Luciferianism, worshipping the Dark Side, next to child and human sacrifices.

Dude, seriously?

Another thing I object to is CERN being associated with the devil. Obviously, the logo of the three accelerator rings reveals the hidden symbolism of evil: 666! Ghasp (and not to be confused with 999). So, all scientists are bad people, ha. They are all corrupt and dishonest. But ever wondered where the gift of technology comes from?

It is an interesting idiosyncrasy of our times that we have become increasingly accustomed to the ongoing success of the human mind in probing reality and understanding the world we live in. Indeed, the relevance of this ever-growing body of knowledge, describing the universe and ourselves in greater and greater detail, cannot be overstated. It allows us to engineer and design reality at will! Sadly, we have come to expect our technological abilities to constantly accelerate and reach breakneck speeds, without giving it a second thought.

The good souls laying the foundations of knowledge, enabling and fostering technological progress are and have always been---drumroll---scientists. People love reaping the fruits of technology (from transistors in microchips to a global information network, from smartphones to rovers on Mars) while at the same time vilifying the hardworking scientists making this possible, based on petty social and political preferences. However, a simple solution is the following. If you deny science (from flat Earth, to creationism, to climate skepticism, to anti-vaxxers, ...) you don't get to use a smartphone and the Internet. Also, no electricity...

In closing, perhaps people should spend less time online and actually look at and engage with the real world around them. Perhaps a walk in nature could help cultivate a healthy and sane mindset. Or observing a sunset or gazing at the night sky. Perhaps a bit of contemplation and reflection could counter all this toxic thinking. Pro tip: Ever engaged in critical thinking? You know, stuff like this:
Critical thinking involves both cognitive skills and dispositions. These dispositions, which can be seen as attitudes or habits of mind, include open and fair-mindedness, inquisitiveness, flexibility, a propensity to seek reason, a desire to be wellinformed, and a respect for and willingness to entertain diverse viewpoints. 

Just sayin'

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

random quote of the day

technology A short quote on the acceleration of technological breakthroughs at breakneck speed:
The information society has been brought about by the fastest growing technology in history. No previous generation has ever been exposed to such an extraordinary acceleration of technological power over reality, with the corresponding social changes and ethical responsibilities. Total pervasiveness, flexibility, and high power have raised ICT to the status of the characteristic technology of our time, factually, rhetorically, and even iconographically.

The computer presents itself as a culturally defining technology and has become a symbol of the new millennium, playing a cultural role far more influential than that of mills in the Middle Ages, mechanical clocks in the seventeenth century, and the loom or the steam engine in the age of the Industrial Revolution.

Taken from The Philosophy of Information, Luciano Floridi, 2011, pages 4 and 5.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How To ICO

token fun A little tutorial showing you how to create your own ERC20 tokens using Solidity on the Ethereum testnet Rinkeby.


To get started, you need Ubuntu Linux running. An easy way is to

Then you need to install
  • Solidity  (object-oriented programming language for writing smart contracts);
  • Geth (command line interface for running a full ethereum node implemented in Go).
To do this, execute the following:
$ sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
$ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ethereum/ethereum
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install geth solc

Check your installation:
$ solc --version
$ geth version
See more details here.

Solidity Deployment

Synchronize blockchai:
$ geth --rinkeby --fast
This will take a couple of minutes. Once you see something like this in the terminal, you are up to date (note that an average block time is 15s):
    INFO [08-01|14:53:24] Imported new chain segment blocks=1 txs=1
    mgas=0.021  elapsed=1.998ms   mgasps=10.505  number=638703
Then you can CTR-C.

To launch the CLI:
$ geth attach $HOME/.ethereum/rinkeby/geth.ipc
Create  an address (account) on the Rinkeby testnet:
$ geth --rinkeby account new
Enter password and save address.

Start Geth:
$ geth --rinkeby --rpc --rpccorsdomain '*' --rpcapi 
"eth,net,web3,personal" --unlock 0 --password <(echo XXX)

Go to:
Get ETH:
  • Go to and click "Crypto Faucet".
  • You need a GitHub account.
  • Login to create a Gist: description and filename can be anything, however, the first line (starting with "1") needs to contain the address you generated above, preceded by "0x" (see example).
  • Refresh the GUI at (and choose "Web3 Provider" again)
Now you should have an account balance showing a few ether.

Deploy Test Contract

Set up:
  • In add a new contract (plus sign top left). 
  • Fill in example code from here.
  • Click "Create" (orange/pink button right-hand side).
  • Wait for transaction to be mined.
  • Check terminal synchronizing blocks: you should see the address of the new contact "contract=0x0498b6289f48e28124ec23c30993fcf59af22092".
  • You should have less ether (top right).
  • Check contract address in
  • You should have buttons in the browser on the right-hand side ( corresponding to the getter and setter functions.
  • Enter in "set": 2,"MyAddr",42
  • Entering 2 in "getAmount" or "getAddr" should return "42" and "MyAddr", respectively.

Create ERC20 Token

  • Copy code from here into
  • Deploy contract with "Create" button ("browser/myToken.sol/MyToken").
  • Check "totalSupply" button.
  • Check your balance by putting your account address you generated with Geth above into the "balanceOf" field (right-hand side). NB: address is in quotes and add "0x" if missing in the beginning of the string.
  • Check contract address (from synchronization terminal or "Copy address" button in browser) in 
With the parity wallet (stop synchronizing terminal and go to ) ERC20 tokens can be stored. Create a new wallet address. Stop parity and restart Geth. Click " transfer" button with your parity address in quotes and some amount.

Voila, you just did an ICO and transferred some tokens.

See my example token (original address and my parity wallet).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

the relativity of the subjective perception of reality

fun with memes
The label post-truth is quintessential to our world today. We have transitioned from:
  • pstmodernism
  • constructivism
on to
  • relativism
Basically, today you can believe whatever you like and there will always be an on-line subculture defending those views with "facts". Ironic in times when neuroscience is able to explain why our brains cling to the belief systems it has formed, especially when presented with evince negating the beliefs.

The relativism of defining one's own subjective experience of the external world is perhaps most obvious when it come to conspiracy theories. Below a meme ranking conspiracy theories by how much you need to warp your perception of reality in order to convince your brain it's true.

By the way, I believe in the last four;) See here and here for details on why. This was my motivation for making the meme: If people are willing to believe bat shit crazy stuff, why not go all the way? While traditional conspiracy theories rely on everyone lying to you and constantly deceiving you, "my" conspiracy theories place you in the center of creation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

some output...

more work

The Alpha Engine: Designing an Automated Trading Algorithm

We introduce a new approach to algorithmic investment management that yields profitable automated trading strategies.

This trading model design is the result of a path of investigation that was chosen nearly three decades ago. Back then, a paradigm change was proposed for the way time is defined in financial markets, based on intrinsic events. This definition lead to the uncovering of a large set of scaling laws. An additional guiding principle was found by embedding the trading model construction in an agent-base framework, inspired by the study of complex systems.

This new approach to designing automated trading algorithms is a parsimonious method for building a new type of investment strategy that not only generates profits, but also provides liquidity and stability to financial markets and does not have a priori restrictions on the amount of assets that are managed.

Trading model simulations.


The trading model algorithm outlined here is the result of a long journey that began in the early 1980s. Starting with a new conceptual framework of time, this voyage set out to chart new terrain. The whole history of this endeavor is described in the appendix. The key ingredients of this new paradigm are:
  • Intrinsic Time
  • The Emergence of Scaling Laws (*)
  • Trading Models and Complexity (*)
  • Coastline Trading (*)
  • Novel Insights from Information Theory
  • The Final Pieces of the Puzzle: Asymmetric Thresholds
(* I was lucky to have been part of this 12-year leg of the journey)

The trading model algorithm described here is the result of a meandering journey that lasted for decades. Guided by an overarching event-based framework, recasting time as discrete and driven by activity, elements from complexity theory and  information theory were added. In a nutshell, the proposed trading model is defined by a set of simple rules executed at specific events in the market. This approach to designing automated trading models yields an algorithm that fulfills many desired
features. Its parsimonious, modular, and self-similar design results in behaviour that is profitable, robust, and adaptive.




A crucial feature of the trading model is that it is designed to be counter trend. The coastline trading ensures that positions, which are going against a trend, are maintained or increased. In this sense, the models provide liquidity to the market. When market participants want to sell, the investment strategy will buy and vice versa. This market-stabilizing feature of the model is beneficial to the markets as a whole. The more such strategies are implemented, the less we expect to see runaway markets but healthier market conditions overall. By construction, the trading model only ceases to perform in low-volatility markets.

If investment strategies contribute to market liquidity, they can help stabilize prices and reduce the uncertainty in financial markets and the economy at large. For such strategies the investment returns can be viewed as a payoff for the value-added provided to the economy.

Your Help is Needed

In essence, what we present here is a proof of concept. We refrained from tweaking the model to yield better performance, in order to clearly establish and outline the model's building blocks and fundamental behavior. We strongly believe there is great potential for obvious and straightforward improvements,  which would give rise to far better models. Nevertheless, the bare-bones model we present here already has the capability of being implemented as a robust and profitable trading model that can be run in real-time. 

Nevertheless, with all the merits of the trading algorithm presented here, we are only at the beginning. The Alpha Engine should be understood as a prototype. The model can easily be improved by calibrating the various exchange rates by volatility, or by excluding illiquid ones. Furthermore, the model treats all the currency pairs in isolation. There should be a large window of opportunity for increasing the performance of the trading model by introducing correlation across currency pairs. This is a unique and invaluable source of information not yet exploited. Finally, a whole layer of risk management can be implemented on top of the models.

We hope to have presented a convincing set of tools motivated by a consistent philosophy. If so, we invite the reader to take what is outlined here and improve upon it...


This paper will appear as a chapter in the book High Performance Computing in Finance: Problems,  Methods, and Solutions, Chapman & Hall/CRC Series in Mathematical Finance, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Networks

at work

This is a network of power. This time not economic power, but megawatts of capacity.

The pink nodes are power plants producing energy. They are the sources in this flow network. The green nodes are sinks. They are the utilities in the All Country World Index (MSCI ACWI) and are scaled by the MW of power reaching them directly or via the network of subsidiaries (blue nodes).

The right hand side of the figure reveals the piping in the network, where the nodes are removed and only the weighted and directed ownership links are shown.

This is an example of climate finance, a topic slowly appearing on the radars of institutions. See, for instance, Mark Carney's speech, as Governor of the Bank of England.

Data sources: GlobalData and Orbis. The work is done for the SEI Metrics Project.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Skateboarding is hard.

Really hard.

It is one of those pursuits that allows humans to demonstrate insane skills.

Untethered high-lining (Dean Potter)

Proximity wingsuit flying (Halvor Angvik)

Triple corks on skis (Bobby Brown)

Quad corks on snowboards (Billy Morgan)

Big wave surfing (Garret McNamara)

Jumping into water (Laso Schaller, Dana Kunze)

Free soloing (Alex Honnold)

Skateboarding is very technical. The simplest trick is an Ollie. You basically just pop the board into the air using your feet. This is the basis for all street tricks. Unfortunately, mastering an Ollie takes a long time.

First you need to be comfortable riding your board. If you find balancing hard, try riding tight trucks. Once you get the hang of it, loosen them and enjoy the added sense of maneuverability. Now you can start to practice Ollies while stationary. Then while riding. Yes, you need to be patient.

Now, I thought that decades of snowboarding would help. Well, they do a little bit. Still took me some time to feel safe cruising. As a snowboarder, the unfamiliar freedom of being able to place your feet anywhere on the skateboard needed some time to understand (but this then turned out to really help my surfing!).

On a snowboard, I can pretty much do everything switch, also at high speeds. However, riding switch or fakie on a skateboard feels super uncomfortable. Yes, patience.

So, just to get the basics down takes ages. You can be skateboarding for quite some time and everything you do looks easy and unspectacular to bystanders.

Now imagine the level of skill you need to be able to do this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Skateboarding is also hard because it is done on concrete or asphalt, with edges and corners looming everywhere. It is really intimidating to know that if you have to bail, you won't be landing in water or on snow.

For some insane reason there is an unwritten law, that dictates that street-style skateboarding is best executed without any kind of protection:

And don't search for "skateboard slam sessions" on YouTube.

So, why bother? Simple, it is just so much fun! Even the beginner parts;)

It is about a philosophy, an outlook on life.  A simple feeling, a state of being. Watch skate legend Rodney Mullen's TED talk. Or watch him perform at the age of 50:

Or listen to this geezer:

Or watch Tony Hawk reenacting his 900 at the age of 48:

And then there is vert and big-air skateboarding next to street...

For me, at 44, I just want to be able to cruise around town (meaning I need to be able to Ollie up a curb at some point) and learn to ride a bowl/mini ramp (i.e., frozen wave). All this while not getting hurt. The idea is to bridge snowboarding and surfing with skateboarding. It's about developing a new kind of intelligence in my feet and legs.

Still a long way to go:

My board has a wide deck, wide trucks, and soft wheels...