L’inflation de retour au Japon

En écoutant Bloomberg cette nuit, je viens d’apprendre le retour de l’inflation au Japon. Comme le disent souvent les bons économistes et comme the economist a pu le mentionner dans un article, un peu d’inflation est souhaitable, et les effets d’une déflation peuvent être plus néfastes que l’inflation elle-même à un niveau modéré. La politique actuelle des banques centrales n’est donc pas d’éradiquer l’inflation mais de la maintenir à un niveau modéré, voir de la provoquer s’il n’y en a plus. A cet effet, la banque centrale japonaise a injecté d’importantes quantités de liquidités dans l’économie, outre une politique monétaire accommodante, pour essayer de relancer l’économie. Les analystes financiers voient, du coup, le retour à 0,5% d’inflation, d’un bon oeil, laissant supposer l’entrevue d’une reprise possible. Néanmoins les réformes structurelles nécessaires seront lourdes et coûteuses tant en temps, que socialement (hausse du chômage possible).

Mais le point de vue sur la question est aussi divergent à de nombreux égards. On a notamment insisté sur le fait que l’objectif des 2% est très loin. Voir l’article du monde économique et financier du 1er et 2 décembre 2013.

Neuromorphic computing

Scientifics, both in Europe and in the USA, wish to make new computers by imitating human brain. This is, according to them, the best way to have both better and more efficient computers and also a better understanding of the human brain.

This summary is based on an article from the economist “neuromorphic computing, the machine of a new soul”. I read it a long time ago, remembered it was quite passionnating and I want to share it with you. Sorry if I did mistakes while trying to rewrite it. This is far much better for you to read the original article and also because I was bored finishing this post (I also need to read it again before any attempt to write something about this subject.

This is the work and aim of scientists who called themselves neuromorphic engineers. They want to build a computer that has the three main characteristics of the human brain.

1. low power consumption (the human brain is estimated to have a consumption of around 20 watts whereas actual supercomputers require megawatts)
2. fault tolerance (losing even just one tiny transistor should not be a problem for the whole computing system as it is actually for microprocessors with a x86 architecture or ARM architecture)
3. A lack of need to be programmed (the human brain learns by itself and does not need to follow a fixed and imposed path ruled by algorithms implemented by programmers).

With such differences, it is easy to understand that the difference between actual computers and brains are huge. There is a gap hard to fill. But neuromorphic computing’s aim is reduce such a gap. Mainly, by creating a real analogy between artificial computers and brains. This goal also requires to all gaps in neuroscientists understanding of the human organ. I would be at pain to understand how we can speak of an equivalent electrical consumption of brain expressed in watt, but anyway, I am going to trust this amazing article I read in the Economist. The beginning is to create artificial cell brains and to connect them in various ways to try to mimic what happens naturally in the brain.

Neuroscientists can currently understand both high and low level of bain’s anatomy, I mean for one hand the level of nerve cells and how they work, and on the other hand the global architecture of the human brain. For every emotion, every move, neuroscientists know which parts of the brain are concerned. But how neurons are organized and worked at the intermediate level of brain is obscure. The America’s BRAIN initiative is to achieve a global understanding and mapping of the human brain. The European human brain project is more advanced that what they do in the USA. A first example of an like brain computer is awaited for 2023.

We need to explain the difference between a analog computer and a digital one. The digital computer, well-known and part of every computer, smartphone or tablet is processing informations as a series of ones and zeros represented in binary way by either the absence “0” of a voltage or the presence (1) of a voltage. This is how, almost every contemporary computers are working nowadays.

But we have to stress the fact that at the beginning of computer science, several computers were analog machine. Different variety and intensity of voltage is used to process information. This is because of possible errors during the voltage manipulation that digital computers won over their analog peers. But this is true to say that analog computers are closer to human brains in their way of functioning and processing information. SpiNNaker is a project to create an analog computer with around 1m processors able to model about 1% of the human brain in real time.

Actual computers are processing information by shuttling relatively few large block of data around under the control of a central clock (this is where the Hz, Mhz, and Ghz, frequencies of the central clock mean something). Analog processors spit out lots of tiny spike of information as and when it suits them.

You can find the original article here … Because my article is very bad …. sorry… and two other articles about artificial intelligence

 – Neuromorphic computing: The machine of a new soul

– Rise of the machine

– Dawn of artificial intelligence

how long to double my money ? The rule of 72

Hi everybody,This is me again, well I guess that it’s quite difficult to calculate a logarythm in your head. Quite impossible in fact to be sincere. Well, without a calculator I mean. And specific and custom log function are not easy to find on an average – even graphic and scientific – calculator.

Here is a way to evaluate approximately how long does it take to double your money given any specified interest rates. This is the second course of finance on Interest I got from Kacademy.

The rule of 72. 72 is the key number. You just have to divide 72 by your interest rate and you get the answer expressed in years.

So 72/10 is 7,2 years. 10% risk free interest is high by historical standards. For the actual regulated risk free saving in France, you will get currently 1,25%. So with 1000 euros you will need to wait around 70 years to double your money assuming that interest rates won’t change which is by the way impossible. It is easier than to use a log based function isn’t it ?

But this is not the incentive to lower interest rates in the ECB (the rate at which banks can borrow money from the ECB) from 0,5% to 0,25% which will help actual interest rates to go up. The current threat is not anymore inflation in the Euro Zone but Deflation.

Update on tougher tobacco rules from the EP

On 8th october, I decided to post something about a vote in the EP regarding tobacco marketing and labelling. Here is an update…

MEP’s have voted on 8th october in order to implement stricter rules, adopting a position which is essentially comparable to what decided member states in the Council last June. Difference of opinion between the council of Ministers and the EP were not very importants so health campaigners and lobbies thought that the legislation will be be approved before the end of the current parliamentary term.

It was voted on 8th october during the plenary session to increase pictorial warning on tobacco boxes from 30% of the whole surface to 65%. MEP’s also refused like the council a ban on slim cigarettes even though they appeared to be more attractive for young women. But they agreed on the idea to ban the addition of artificial flavours with an exception for menthol.

MEP’s preferred to treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products even if the council wanted to deal with such products with a medical classification. Especially in countries such as France, market authorization is quite complicated and time-consuming and e-cigarettes manufacturers warned MEP’s about that. No more than 30mg/ml of nicotine content will be allowed, no sale for people aged below 18.

MEP’s Rapporteure Mc Lavan was given a mandate to negociate with the council. This is a great news because without this mandate, it would have been impossible to reach an agreement before the up-coming european election of 2014. According to Tonio Borg, the European Commissioner for health, it is possible to adopt a law within the mandate of the current parliament. Significant steps needed before this directive could become law.

l’initiative populaire et l’UE

Vous devez probablement, si vous vous intéressez à l’Union européenne, avoir entendu parler du droit à l’initiative populaire. Je ne suis plus sûr complètement de l’intitulé en français. C’est le principe imposant à la commission d’étudier une questions si elle a été approuvée et signée par 1 million de citoyen(ne)s des Etats membres de l’UE.

Et bien figurez-vous que la commission européenne s’apprête à faire face à ses premières responsabilités envers le peuple européen au sujet de 3 thématiques. La première est assez nauséabonde compte tenu de mes convictions : il s’agit d’essayer d’opposer quelque chose aux fonds utilisés pour promouvoir le droit à l’avortement. La seconde concerne la lutte contre la privatisation des infrastructures de distribution de l’eau potable, et la troisième concerne l’interdiction de certaines expériences sur les animaux.

Intéressant de voir que le journal european voice précise que ces demandes de prise de position de la commission sont issues de trois réseaux pour lesquels la mobilisation d’un grand nombre de signataire est assez facile, davantage qu’une pétition issue de la société civile sans organisation soutien : l’église et les lobby pro-vie, les syndicats de la fonction publique ainsi que les organisations écologistes ou de défense des animaux.