3rd August 2012: Violentology

Colombia’s FARC insurgency is one of my PhD case studies so Stephen Ferry’s project looks interesting:


For the past ten years, the photographer Stephen Ferry has working on what he calls a “collective photographic record of the Colombian conflict.” The long-running internal unrest in Colombia, he warns, isn’t just a product of the drug wars, but “involves a baffling array of actors: The Colombian Armed Forces, supported by the United States, two guerrilla armies, and a host of right-wing paramilitary militias and criminal gangs.” Ferry’s project, which brings historical information and images together with his own landscapes of Colombia and portraits of its people, is currently on display at Umbrage gallery, and will be the focus of his upcoming book, “Violentology.” Here’s a look at Ferry’s photographs.

2nd August 2012: A Superstitious Fund

A Superstitious Fund

BoingBoing‘s Mark Frauenfelder alerted me to Shing Tat Chung‘s Superstitious Fund project:


The Superstitious Fund Project is an investment Fund that is run by a superstitious autonomous Algorithm. As a one year experiment it operates and trades purely on superstitious beliefs. Buying or Selling on Numerology and in accordance to Lunar Phases. For example it has the fear of the number 13 and a full moon. It also develops its own lucky ad unlucky values, just as we do all the time. We are hardwired to imagine patterns that give us the illusion of control. Win a tennis match, and we’ve got lucky socks. The Algorithm creates these patterns throughout the year, ranking and deranking superstitions. They are then used as a new logic in trading.


Chung’s MetaTrader 4 script is here (details) and BBC news coverage is here.


There is potential here to develop a Bayesian learning approach to how metaphysical, religious and spiritual beliefs shape investor decision-making and preferences. For instance, followers of W.D. Gann rely on much-debated market astrology which is rejected by other technical analysis practitioners and by quantitative hedge funds. Richard Tarnas‘s archetypal astrology is an alternative to Gann’s approach on cultural history and cyclical events. Steven Sloman and Judea Pearl‘s work on Bayesian networks, causality, and uncertainty provide a potential, scientific approach — which could then inform the development of machine learning algorithms.

1st August 2012: Dr. Jose M. Ramos Interviews Jim Dator

Friend and colleague Dr. Jose M. Ramos has a great 8-minute video interview with futures scholar Jim Dator:


Well, I was really and pleasantly surprised by Jim’s way of being. Yes he is one of the founders of the FS field, but he was very approachable and had an amazingly warm and inviting demeanor. Of course he was brutally honest about how he saw FS and the futures of the planet in general, but done so in a way that connects and inspires.


Ramos is correct: Dator‘s comments are a succinct explanation of the value of using futures studies in your contemporary life. I look forward to more of Ramos’s interviews with World Futures Studies Federation members.