Ponderings: Intelligence as a bonus stat & talents as base stats.

Sooo, there's an awfully interesting post, 'The Parable of the Talents' by Scott Alexander over at Slate Star Codex. It's about the relationship between intelligence and talent, as well as hard work.

He comes to a reasonable conclusion I agree with, that is:

The Jews also talk about how God judges you for your gifts. Rabbi Zusya once said that when he died, he wasn’t worried that God would ask him “Why weren’t you Moses?” or “Why weren’t you Solomon?” But he did worry that God might ask “Why weren’t you Rabbi Zusya?”

And this is part of why it’s important for me to believe in innate ability, and especially differences in innate ability. If everything comes down to hard work and positive attitude, then God has every right to ask me “Why weren’t you Srinivasa Ramanujan?” or “Why weren’t you Elon Musk?”

If everyone is legitimately a different person with a different brain and different talents and abilities, then all God gets to ask me is whether or not I was Scott Alexander.

This seems like a gratifyingly low bar.

However, what he doesn't seem to address is a viewpoint he puts forward at the start:
I’m sorry to leave self a self absorbed comment, but reading this really upset me and I just need to get this off my chest…How is a person supposed to stay sane in a culture that prizes intelligence above everything else – especially if, as Scott suggests, Human Intelligence Really Is the Key to the Future – when they themselves are not particularly intelligent and, apparently, have no potential to ever become intelligent? Right now I basically feel like pond scum.

I hear these kinds of responses every so often, so I should probably learn to expect them. I never do. They seem to me precisely backwards.

It seems to a nugget that in modern, industrialised societies, we tend to view intelligence as the base stat, and talent as the bonus.

This, in turn, directly leads to The Sads in the quoted viewpoint, because then - logically - what you're capable of is defined first by intelligence, THEN by talent. Which, of course, means that if you are 'not particularly intelligent', it's DOOM... 'I'll NEVER be anything much. I'm pond scum!' :(

But the more a nugget thinks about this (and a nugget thunk a lot about it while swimming today...), the more convinced a nugget is that it's a flip.

(For any non-gamers who read this and find it incomprehensible, I'm sorry! I tend to think in game design terms...)

Talent is the base stat. Intelligence is the bonus.


Talent: Base Stat
There's no cap on how many talents you can take. You can roll on as many talents as you like... but the roll you get is the roll you're stuck with. Meaning if you chose to roll on a talent, and you got a negative roll for that talent, then you're stuck with it. If you didn't choose, then you get a nice base of 0. You might also get a really high roll though, if you're lucky!

There is, of course, no guarantee that the talent you're rolling on is in the current build of the game. It's therefore entirely - if tragically - possible that your character is talented at stuff that hasn't been invented yet. (Talented pilot, planes not invented yet... alas!)

Equally tragically, your character might be very talented at stuff that's become obsolete. :( Sadly, it seems we don't know much / anything about the game we're about to play when we're at the Character Creation stage...

Intelligence: Bonus Stat
You get just one roll for this, and again, the roll can be negative or positive. How good you are at something initially, and how fast you get better at it are modified by intelligence.

Hard Work & Practice: Buffs with Diminishing Returns
If you're starting with a negative roll for Talent, and a positive or high roll for Int, then the hole you're trying to dig yourself out of is moderated by high Int. You still gotta apply a lot more of the Hard Work & Practice buff though, and you'll hit diminishing returns sooner than someone who isn't starting in a hole in the first place! And all other non-Talent factors are equal, you'll still never be as good as someone who started with a positive or high Talent roll.

Environmental Factors: Buffs and Debuffs
An environment that provides opportunities to improve and practice a Talent is a buff. An environment that is low on, or actively removes such opportunities is a debuff.

POOF!

The character creation process now accounts for both the Cleopatra VIIs, and the idiot savants!

And also, it means you aren't doomed just because you have a low bonus roll. (>'-')> <('-'<)

Similar to what Scott Alexander posted... but different. ^_^

UX Rant: Oversimplification and overgeneralisation... plus supportive technology!

This post annoyed me so much that I actually left a comment!

<.< A nugget rarely comments on design blogs, for some reason...

It's a nice, ranty comment, so I've reproduced it here, for my Rant Museum! ^_^

This article kind of annoyed me, possibly because it’s too general, hyperbolic, and somewhat preachy.

It’s all well and good to say:
We will design processes, not screens.
We will design systems, not individual pieces.
We will design less “using,” and more getting results.

But…
How do you propose we ‘design processes’, WITHOUT designing the screens, assuming that the medium is digital, on a screen?

How do you propose we ‘design systems’, WITHOUT designing the individual pieces?

How do you design ‘more getting results’ without LOOKING at the ‘using’ process?

It’s all very well to say, users just want things to magically happen!

Sure they do.

But only in very narrow fields, or very very wide budgets and fields (self driving cars, container automation, subway train scheduling) can you implement something that allows that kind of responsibility-free magic, while absolving users of responsibility.

In many fields, we still REQUIRE the user to go through the process, interact with the product, perform myriad actions, because the onus of responsibility and decision must lie upon them. Because the interactions aren’t simple, and may cause harm. (I currently work in enterprise healthcare software.)

For me, as a designer, what I’d love to see more of (and to work on more of) is the ‘supportive’ system. A good example of this is computer-aided Chess Grandmasters. Where the sum of the two is superior to either one alone, even if the goal is still ‘winning’.

Computer-assisted healthcare professionals, with the goal being better patient care and outcomes. Now that’s something I want to see happen, but it’s still going to involve work on the part of the user, as well as the computer (the supportive system). And that’s the way it should be.


DISC personality test AKA look into this mirror, and I'll sell your image back to you for as high a price as I can extract

Nugget's summary of DISC personality test

  1. Tell me what you think you're like!
  2. Gosh, I think you're just like that! Just like... what you said you thought you were like.
  3. Let me pad that with vague, feel-good statements, worthy of any fortune teller.
  4. Look, I'll even throw in charts that, if you cross-compare with colleagues, are all obviously from a fixed set of variables, but designed to look as if they're customised for you, just you, special little snowflake, you.
  5. Now that you've told me what you think you're like, and I've mirrored that back at you...
  6. Rate the accuracy of the test! WOW! It's ACCURATE isn't it? HOW UNCANNY.

As you can tell, I'm somewhat unimpressed. I am, though, impressed by how attractively and plausibly dressed up it was.

The one I took today was truly a triumph of marketing.

Here's someone who says it much more nicely than me. ;)

ZOMG! New Zealand now has larval Baymaxes for aged care!

University of Auckland researchers are set to publish new results from a study of the use of healthcare robots in the homes of elderly people living in rural areas, showing that robots may lessen social isolation but also help with the provision of medical care.

The project involves small robots that can provide medication reminders, alarms in the case of falls and video conferencing through Skype, as well as a larger robot that can monitor health measurements such blood pressure readings and heart rate and transmit readings to the patient's GP.

According to the university, the robots functioned as good companions, with some participants saying they enjoyed hearing the robot talk and others saying they liked its ability to remind them to take their medicine on time.

Dr Broadbent said the participants said they found comfort in seeing the robot light up, as they felt it was the robot’s way of interacting with them.

“They all reported that they would miss the robot when it went with one patient describing the robot as being part of the family,” Dr Broadbent said in a statement.

Source: Kate McDonald, Pulse IT

Pharmacy in Australia: The 6CPA Agreement - Administration, Handling & Infrastructure (AHI) Fee vs 5CPA's Pharmacy Markup

So I did some calculations comparing the 6CPA's AHI vs the 5CPA's Pharmacy Markup...

Old pack of up to & including $30.00 @ 15% = $0.15 ($1) to $4.50 ($30)
Old pack of $30.01 to $45.00 = $4.50
Old pack of $45.01 to $180 @ 10% = $4.50 to $18.00
New for all up to $180.00 = $3.49
So with the AHI, for prices up to $180, pharmacies will be making LESS for all items above $30.00.

Old pack of $180.01 to $450.00 = $18.00
New pack of $180.01 to $450.00 = $3.49 (on an $180.01 item) to $12.94 ($3.49 + $9.45)

Old pack of $450.01 to $1,750.00 @ 4% = $18.00 to $70.00
New pack of $450.01 to $1,750.00 = $12.94 ($3.49 + $9.45) to $61.44 ($3.49 + $54.95)
Old pack of $1,750.01 and up = $70.00
New pack of $1,751.00 to $2,089.70 = $61.44 ($3.49 + $54.95) to $70.33 ($3.49 + $66.84)
So with the AHI, pharmacies are losing a lot of the 'in between $70.00' fees they had under the 5CPA pharmacy markup.

Old & New Pack of $2,089.71 and up = No change, $70.00 per dispense.

From the 6CPA agreement

From the 5CPA agreement


These are my personal conclusions, statements and opinions, and in no way reflect the opinions (or anything else) of my employer.

Lovely post on cooking without recipes by TerryWG / The Food Canon

Recipes act as a guide at best. There are so many variables so that you can't duplicate the dish exactly. At best, you approximate. Learn instead, to be guided by your own sense of taste and experiment with flavour combination. This often requires some imagination. This is not going to come to you immediately. Patiently, build up your experience and palate. As always, this will come more naturally or easily to some. Some will have a longer learning curve. But if you are always relying on recipes, you will not be able to break out of that. Your learning curve has not even begun.

Recipes are like GPS. There are often helpful to get you to your destination. But over-rely on it, and you will cease to think or map out your own sense of direction. After a while, without GPS, you become a stranger in your own city.

That is the same problem with cooking entirely from recipes. We use the ingredients without asking why and we never seek to understand the essence of the dish. The experience with the dish remains contained within itself, locked in its own recipe, and you will never try to do something else from it.    

- Cooking without a recipe, The Food Canon

The Flat Design Trend & Silly Catty Designer Behaviour aka I <3 Eli Schiff

Today we are told we can rest assured that visual design is no longer so vacuous and superficial, due to the advent of flat design.

I take a different stance. 'Pure veneer' is not an insult in my book. Quite the opposite, it is the very definition of visual design. Thinking visual design is anything but superficial not only requires a profound level of ignorance, but it indicates an incredibly limited view of what visual communication can accomplish.

These rationalizations by newly turned modern minimalists are incredibly telling. If prominent practitioners are being honest with us in claiming that visual design was plagued by harmful decoration only up until the advent of flat design, then they are admitting that for years, for the history of the GUI, and perhaps even the entire history of design itself, designers have been putting on a sham project in order to dupe corporations.

Worse still, claims of visual design's insignificance tell us that design leaders never took their craft seriously. It truly undermines their credibility that it took the arrival of flat design for them to treat the entire spectrum of roles in product design with respect. Of course, as soon as that happened, they graduated from respecting traditional interface design principles.

This so-called 'maturation' in the vast majority of the design industry is in this way a major indictment of the professional history of these practitioners. If anyone should be condemned, it should not be those accused of the crime of visual design, but those practitioners who treat their job as frivolous.

Perhaps the design world breeds a form of narcissism due to its nature as a winner-take-all economy. That would explain the logic of this race to the bottom in which designers feel compelled to attack their craft before others assume they are 'bullshitters' too. In the words of Dr. Sam Vaknin:

By pre-empting society’s punitive measures and by self-flagellating, the narcissist is actually saying: 'If I am to suffer unjustly, it will be only by my own hand and no one else's.'

It is this masochistic status-striving that I find so ugly in this industry. That he who discredits his own craft is the most pious. That the most respected designer is the one who disowns beauty. This perpetual need to be the first to assign irrelevancy to one's own professional practice is the true impetus behind much of the puritanism of modern minimalist avant gardism.

- From Eli Schiff's last article in an amazing 5 part series, Fall of the Designer

Details way better than I could have how the unnerving thing about 'flat is the bestest and the coolestestest and the maturestestest' is in truth paying only lip service to serving our users' needs, while actually serving as a designer's wank.

Go read it, read it all!