220: Allison Schrager | Risk Mitigation With Examples In “An Economist Walks Into A Brothel”

Understanding risk is an economic way to understand the decisions and systems in our communities and finances. Economist Allison Schrager looks at risk in fields at the more extreme ends of the spectrum, to understand it with less noise in place.

Professor Allison Schrager teaches at NYU, and has a PhD in Economics from Columbia University, with her Bachelors from the University of Edinburgh. She is an economist, journalist at Quartz, and cofounder of LifeCycle Finance Partners, LLC. She has contributed to The Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Show notes:

  • what sex work can teach about risk management, and how Allison looked at a specific brothel to understand the value proposition
  • where in life you have your risks managed, whereas you have them completely ignored in other categories
  • when to take a risk and when to lean towards the safer option
  • why you should define what risk and reward mean to you, so that you can take and seek levels complementary to your nature
  • how to include your human irrationality into your risk modeling
  • what it takes to get the most bang for your buck in the department of risk-taking
  • how hedging and insurance are methods used to master your domain
  • what you can expect in your assessments, and what type of room you need to leave for unanticipated events
  • where the perspective of the world has gone, in terms of having control of the world you live in

I was glad to have Professor Schrager on episode 220. You can check out her articles on Quartz, home page, or her book on Amazon.

218: Professor David Hu | Animal/Robotic Movement, Fluid Mechanics, And More In “How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls”

The way that organisms move is a precursor to how robots will map their movements out. Animals can do things like walk on water and climb up vertical surfaces, and knowing how this works is useful. Professor David Hu of Georgia Tech explores these topics in his book How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls.

Professor Hu is Associate Professor of Fluid Mechanics at The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. He runs the Hu Laboratory for Locomotion at his institution. He got his Bachelors and Masters, along with his PhD in Mathematics, at MIT. Most of his research focuses on hydrodynamics and elasticity problems as they relate to biology.

Show notes:

  • what biolocomotion is involved with, and how evolution has impacted animals and the insect world in terms of movement
  • why looking at nature is a good way to get ideas for mechanical devices that are more effective or better maintaining
  • where Professor Hu looked for inspiration, or bioinspiration, to see what the next item of research would be
  • how insects or animals can walk on water based on surface tension
  • what kinds of analysis it requires to be able to take a guess regarding locomotion and test it out in terms of basis
  • how body movements and material properties have to be looked at as a pair to be able to decipher their value
  • what kinds of animals need to undulate or slither to be able to get the most efficiency for their movement
  • how some of these advances connect to upcoming robots that are able to touch and move things in a more gentle way than current robots

I was glad to have Professor Hu on the show. He is a personable individual with a good sense of humor. You can check out his book on Amazon, look at his research articles, or look at his lab page.

217: Vince Beiser | How Sand Served As A Natural Resource That Transformed Civilization

Sand is one of the overlooked natural resources of the world, and is a huge part of the cities that we live and transport around in. In his book The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization, journalist Vince Beiser speaks to the importance of this resource, as well as the stories related to its acquisition and usage.

Vince has served as a journalist in over 100 countries, reported from California’s harshest prisons, ridden with first responders, and contributed to Wired, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, the LA Times, and more. He continues to work as an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles.

Show notes:

  • why sand on beaches is at risk of being reduced all around the world
  • how violence is attached to battles for sand in some parts of India and elsewhere
  • where sand operations have allowed for building of whole cities
  • what sand is used to build, and what other substances come from sand
  • how reinforced concrete became the main element for strong buildings
  • how more cars leads to more paved road, which led to more cars
  • why is it worthwhile to look at sustainability and personal usage of cars and fuel sources in relation to sand limits and violence related to it

I was glad to have Vince on the show. You can check out his book The World in a Grain on Amazon, or check out his website.

202: Dr. Robin Hanson | Career, Viewpoints And Articles From His Blog “Overcoming Bias”

Welcome to episode number 202, with Dr. Robin Hanson, co-author of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.

Robin Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University, and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, master’s degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, and nine years experience as a research programmer, at Lockheed and NASA.

On my episode with Dr. Hanson, we discussed topics and tangents connecting off of his blog articles and book messages, including:

  • having a thing, whether it be a viewpoint or something you stand for
  • hidden motives and the ways they can be look at more rationally
  • the concept of the Great Filter, which is a viewpoint about the universe and lack of activity beyond our planet
  • viewquakes, and the ability to bring individuals to growth through change of their thinking that is not rigid
  • a message to young eccentrics, the value and efficiencies that they have, and how they can look at themselves
  • the way that Edward Snowden was a form of hero, and what kinds of traits Dr. Hanson might look for in relevant individuals
  • Black Mirror translating some of the scientific messages available to a broader audience
  • how stories are used by people, and if they are somewhat religious in the way that they function
  • more topics on the mindset that you take to a difficulty

You can check out Dr. Robin Hanson’s blog at Overcoming Bias, look at his faculty page, or check out his biography. You can also take a look at my past text interview with Dr. Hanson and his The Elephant in the Brain  co-author Kevin Simler.