Business, life

Weapons Of Math Destructions

Weapons Of Math Destructions book

 

I have just finished this book “Weapons Of Math Destructions” by Cathy O’neil.

It’s an important book that deal with mathematical algorithms and models that control our modern life and where they threat to change many aspects of our social interactions. Think about cases like who is being selected to a certain collage and all the implications. She gives good stories and background to each example in the book.

To me, the bottom line is a call to developers, product managers, scientists (and anyone else who contribute to the creation of these systems) to take more responsibility when they building algorithms. I know it’s a real challenging aspect, as most people are not even aware to the tendencies that they got and influence their decisions. It’s also a call for the regulators to think and ask the hard questions about modern ‘AI‘ systems.

Overall, it’s a good book that is full with good stories and examples that drive her main points about the dark side of big data.

Give it a try.

You might like it as much as I did.

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Business, life

Good Podcasts

headset with colors in the backgroundYesterday I had an interesting conversation with a friend about ways to improve your knowledge in different topics.

I suggested to him to leverage his long commute or runs to listen to audio books and podcasts. I have been doing it over the last 15 years and it’s a great way for me to utilize time better. Suddenly the long runs become interesting and time flies. So his next question was what are the podcasts I like and why.

Here are the top ones:

  • Revisionist History is my favorite one. Gladwell does what he is excelling at… telling a story you think you knew but turn it on its head and during this process teach you a thing or two. In the last two seasons, Gladwell went back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood. The one on Martin Luther King is fascinating.
  • Freakonomics is an award-winning podcast with a lot of listeners (which most, I suspect, like logic, economic etc’). Stephen Dubner has conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt. The last few episodes (as of March 2018) about CEOs are really good. Check it out.
  • Here’s the thing with Alec Baldwin – Alec really knows how to interview his impressive guests and listen to their ideas and stories. It’s great to follow him and learn about people that changed history, industries or ‘just’ put a smile on our faces.
  • Epicenter – I’ve been passion about the crypto world since 2012. Around early 2014 I found this one. It’s a podcast that takes you to the heart of this important technological revolution: the rise of decentralized technologies. Every week, they bring conversations with some of the brightest minds in this bourgeoning ecosystem of startups and open source projects. Good stuff if you want to learn more about decentralized technologies and the crypto world.
    Btw, Block Zero is a new podcast that deal with this topic as well. It’s still young but sounds good so far.
  • The Moth – The Moth Podcast features stories that are being recorded live on stage around the USA.
    Some of them are really good! Episodes are released every Tuesday.

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life

Two Books On World War II

2 books

I don’t know why, but in the past month I read (again) two books that tell personal stories during World War II / holocaust.

I didn’t plan it. But like most things in life, while we are making plans, things happen.

In retrospective, it was a powerful, sad and interesting time. You can hear a lot of stories about WW2 and the holocaust but there are some that hit you right in your heart.

As the say, “Long story short”, here are the two books I recommend.

The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah is so talented. She does a great job in capturing an intimate part of history from a unique perspective: the women’s war. It is a combination of two stories or two sisters. They are separated on many levels: years, experience, ideals and mostly character. Each one is paving her own path toward survival in German-occupied France. It’s a beautiful, sad story that shows the real strong gender – female.

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

It’s a real personal story of Pino Lella, a young Italian teenager who wants to ski and have fun. Up to here it’s just like any teenager who lives near the amazing mountains in north of Italy. But, there is a war and he started it by joining the underground where he helped Jews escape over the Alps to Switzerland. From one step to another he become the personal driver of Hans Layers who reported to Hitler. The story tells how is manage to spy for the allies and his relationships with Hans, Anna (his love) and his family. During the book, you keep thinking it can’t be a real story. But, you keep realizing, it is all happen in Europe only 60 years ago.

 

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life

How Nike Became Nike

I just finished this book and really enjoyed it.

Any entrepreneur and/or a runner should read it. Such an amazing story of a startup (they didn’t have this term back in 1962) that fight against the giants (e.g. Adidas, US customs, Tiger etc’) and succeed to win. Big time.

It’s told by Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight and he does a great job to describe the inside story of the company. From the early days as a one man show startup and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic and profitable brands.

In 1962, fresh out of Stanford business school, Phil Knight traveled the world. When he visited Japan he was able to get a deal with Tiger (well known brand at the time) and with fifty dollars from his father he created a company “Blue Ribbon Sports“. They had many issues and problems (like any startup) but in the end, Nike’s annual sales last year top $30 billion. The story between these two extremes is fascinating.

It’s a candid and humble memoir. Knight details the relationships he had with the first employees and the (many) risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream. He is a real problem solver and keep learning on the go but the most impressive quality I learn about him is the relationships he was able to make (with very few words) with athletes, employees and friends.

Enjoy it!
…And go for a run.

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life

Great Books To Start The Year

Few of the best books I’ve read in the past and you might enjoy. There are in no special order, but if you love good stories start with the first and the last.

 

One of the best books I read in a long time. It’s an interesting story about the humankind in the last ~70,000 years and Harari does it so well, you won’t feel it’s a history book.

I like the 2nd book (Homo Deus) as well and found more things in it that I would like to discuss about with the author. I just need to find the right time and place. Continue reading

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Business, life

Books I Enjoyed During 2017

This year was full with good books.

I got to some books by mistake (e.g. Girl with a pearl earring during a trip to Zion national park) and others after getting a warm recommendation. Here is the list of the ones that I like most. There were at least ~12 other books that I didn’t like and stopped in the middle, but I guess, it’s part of life.

One of the best papers I read this year (again) was “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. The paper is quite short (only 8 pages without the references) but every word there counts and it’s giving a total picture of this powerful invention. It’s much bigger than ‘just’ cash system and in the future we will see this technology breakthrough changing many industries.

OK, let’s jump to the books. Continue reading

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Business, life

Where The Best Ideas Win

I’ve just finish to read one of the best books for this year: Principles: Life and Work

It’s a a long book but very well organized. You get a good background on Ray Dalio and how he arrived to where he is today. I knew him for the past 10 years, but I was amazed to learn that he was broke in the early 80′. In a classic american dream story, he was able to build one of the largest (and maybe, best) hedge funds in the world that these days managed over $150B.

Things I liked:

  • He is giving good explanations to each principal and how he got to it. There are many cases where he is driving his points with a real life example, which is helpful. In a way, you can think on this book as a recipe book for life and business. Ray doesn’t want you to follow blindly after this principals but to get you to think on them and come up with a set of principal that is based on your idea, experience and life lessons.
  • He provides the reader with a strategy and a roadmap to better thinking and dealing with problems and challenges.
  • He also giving tools and methodologies to accomplish goals you think are important base on your values.
  • After over 40 years in the stock market, he learned that in order to be so successful you need to be an independent thinker (because the consensus is baked into the price of assets) and you need to be more right than wrong. So the ability to learn from your mistakes and to keep improving is critical.
  • In the last part of the book, he is talking about business and how to build a group or organization that will be transparent, self improving and able to bubble up with the best ideas. It sounds easy, but from the past 20 years, I know how hard it is to accomplish.

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