Equality of Benefit

I’ve been involved in a lot of discussion around bias, equality and fairness regarding algorithmic decision making. Without going into excessive amount of background and detail the gist of my believe at the current moment is that equality of utility is the safest thing for companies to aspire to.

What is equality of utility? Let’s degenerate into binary decision making: given individual x, who has observable features f(x) and protected feature p(x). Suppose the company has to choose among two actions to take {a,b}. What is a workable definite of fairness or equality in such a decision making effort with respect to protected properties p?

Let god bestow us, a neutral third party, with a utility functor u whose evaluation on the individual u(x) results in a function u(x)(a) is the utility of company taking action a to individual x, u(x)(b) is the utility to individual x of company taking action b.

Let g be the decision process of company, g(•) is the decision company makes either a or b for the situation. Then the right thing to do

g(f(x)) = argmax_{i\in{a,b}}(u(x)(i)) = g(f(x), p(x))

Simple, we do as god says is best for the customer, act as if we have the knowledge of an oracle–even when we know of some reason for discrimination.

What is the crime classification?

What is a hate crime? The FBI has a page on that here. It also has a link to statistics on the rates of offense here at the uniform crime reporting site. The definition right now states:

criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

The criminal law is concerned with state of the mind, i.e. Mens rea. But this now also applies to noncriminal offenses. In California, Ralph Civil Rights act and Bane Civil Rights act protect persons of protected class and persons of protected attributes (race, religion, …) from violence or attempted assaults, threats of violence(verbal or written) and vandalism or property damages. People in California are also protected for equal employment and fair housing. 

In addition to criminal court proceedings, Hate crimes can also violate civil code, the remedies for violation of civil rights in the civil courts can be injunction with equitable remedy as well as legal remedy. It provides for, among others, punishments like 3X actual damages if the crime is proven to be hate based, and civil penalty of $25k, or even punitive damages. The plaintiff has to prove malice fraud or oppression.

Legal maxim: For every right, there is a remedy; where there is no remedy, there is no right. 

The election has just ended. Trump’s election is followed by a spate of reports of fairly violent speeches and actions directed towards Asians and other minority immigrants. Apparently the law protects us equally against these crimes which are hate crimes. The law even protects us against hate based misdemeanors. When one is a party to such crimes, one is punished extra by American federal and state laws!

To be clear: report a crime if you are subject to one. Heck report one if you commit one too. Indicate to police that you believe you are subject of the crime because of the kind of person you are: race, sex, age, disability, political party affiliation. Point out evidence: usage of racial slurs by the perpetrator can be one. His dress such as swastika. His other targets, etc.

If local law enforcement do not respond, one can escalate to the state’s attorney general’s office.

Sue. (Hopefully With the help of lawyer)

Chinese Trek Character

Seems that, well at least according to Facebook postings today, the famous Chinese-Hongkong star Michelle Yeoh will be a star of sorts in Star Trek. It is a big step to take after 51 years of introducing all kinds of strange new worlds and new civilizations to American audience, we will get a glimpse into one of our own in the future.

I don’t blame the Trek industry for this retarded integration. Chinese people have been arguable the most mistreated and most misunderstood people in America–so Trek isn’t especially anti-Chinese despite the exclusion. Even the news, on facebook, which could be fake, speaks of her heading a ship named ShenZhou, which is the name of Chinese spaceships today. So little will have change(d) in 200 years… I’ll bet the Chinese space program will still be its own thing, a separate enterprise, away from the rest of humanity.

I have such mixed feelings about this. For my own personal sake, can we suspend disbelieve and just keep on imagining a world without Chinese people? One without my descendants.

The good is too good in Star Trek, the highs so high, but looking at the existing Chinese presence, which is minuscule or none, my mind is brought into a space completely opposite of the good and the high.

Anger, fear, hatred bubbles in me on a lake of lava revealing its previously Unobserved immensity. My mind fills in gaps, as most people’s minds will do subconsciously, but all the explanations for why there has not been any Chinese characters on Star Trek in the last 52 years are sooo dark… and sooo deep and … and sooo vivid, sooo realistic…, so unbashfully on display…, in front of my eyes, all around my ears, all these years…

I am not brave enough to imagine it again today. Please let it not be. It will ruin Star Trek for me no matter how you do it.

An Attempt at God’s Sign


Do you think it’s fair to say that gods are those that has lower bound in evil and that the devil is one that has an upper bound in goodness?

Right? because god can be angry some times and punish people, and stuff, but he is limited in how much nasty he can bring onto humanity before he stops. Where as the devil, we assume, will not stop at any level of nastiness. However he will also have a bounded goodness he does before he will stop and starting doing bad things.

This is interesting because it took me a second to think through  as well. Our cultures and religion teach us that God is all good and devil is all evil. But because, either because of our lack of ability to comprehend, or our physical world lack the expressive power to express God’s will, that sometimes God’s act appear evil, and sometimes the devil’s work appears kind–just look at all those pretty girls out there, so pleasing, so nice, makes you want to be nice, right? But often they are the devil’s work and the niceness disappears at some point and then it’s all evil.

ehem… not speaking from personal experience.

So, but if you put your mind to it, despite these limitations, we are told that God will eventually recover and reveal to us that it is all good, and much better than before, that the evil we suffer in the mean time is completely overwhelmed by the greatness of what is to follow. If we think it this way that the latter will be better than present, then it would appear that, in our stricter language of mathematics, that God’s evil is bounded below, and in contrast, the Devil, the polar opposite of God has goodness bounded above.

Such believes have implications, of course. The fact that god is bounded below means that he will never bring human to extinction. One can argue that future of universe may be brighter without us, and that next intelligence or being of sorts will be closer to God than us, etc., but that argument is just plain unscientific–it cannot be tested. On the other hand, the perpetuity of humanity is testable, not conclusively, but growing in supporting evidence. I guess it’s kind of pseudo-scientific, but increasing evidence seem better than unprovable, right?

Such believes also means we can detect things. Suppose we find a cause whose effect has always known to be limited in goodness but (essentially) unbound in evil, then we can legitimately suspect that cause to be the Devil. We can actually detect devil from the goodness of its effects!!

Such believes should be defined more carefully, does two infinities of goodness and evil add up to our finite existence?

A Serious Problem with Signs in Previous Entries

Astute reader may have found some significant problem with signs in my earlier posts. The sign of these value functions must be carefully selected lest we exchange God and Devil. It might happen. For instance if you read my quantification of privacy blog entries, you will find that I did not correctly assign signs to the information. Suppose we continue with the example of dinner and leaked email to wife. Information theory is confusing in the sense that it cannot distinguish incriminating information from non-incriminating information. It is possible we can structure “Dinner” such that entropy implies innocence and lack of entropy implies guilt, but most natural cases, the output variable having low entropy could mean both very guilty and not guilty.

When I charge for my loss of privacy, when you rip open my pants and peek into it, I would only want to charge you money if it is embarrassingly to me. If it is show-worthy, I might pay you money for the exposure, right? Also, just to be clear, if the information is leaked as a summary of my private email to wife, the same calculation would take place but the conditional will be the humanization of email.

A purist would say, loss of privacy is loss of privacy without regard to guilt. If this is the case then the quantification will take the form:

IG(Dinner; private email to wife) = H(dinner) – H(Dinner | private email to wife)

In real world, this number is always non-negative, and we compute compensation based on this function. But as a conscientious person who wants orderly society and safety for my family and my fellow beings, my original proposal was to only charge for the private information when it proves to be unhelpful to the cause of crime prevention. This is further strengthened by a system where the law enforcement is punished only when the information proves me innocent. So the three grade of privacy quantification are:

Let a certain private information be a random variable P (such as dinner choice above, or my choice between java or pascal for my next project (pascal being a crime to use)) and let Q be a piece of data that is leaked or taken from me. the privacy loss PL is defined as the information gain regarding P

PL = IG(P;Q) =  H( P ) – H( P | Q )

Strong Privacy: Any private information Q lost that has PL >= 0 is privacy loss. (This is saying that any thing private revealed to non-private party against my direction is privacy loss, because IG is always non-negative)

Medium Privacy: Any private information Q lost that has a PL > 0 is privacy loss.

Weak Privacy: Any information Q lost that has PL > 0 and that P is more certain regarding guilt (For the purpose of punitive assurance, this is any certainty about reality being the same as clandestine actor’s desired outcome whose truth will generate reward for the clandestine actor. ).

SP, MP, and WP for the lazy.

Punitive Privacy Assurance:

Strong Punitive Privacy Assurance: Penalize clandestine actor for my strong privacy loss.

Medium Punitive Privacy Assurance: penalize clandestine actor only for my medium privacy loss.

Weak Punitive Privacy Assurance: Penalize clandestine actor only for my weak privacy loss.

SPPA, MPPA, WPPA for the lazy.

We should have at least Weak Punitive Privacy Assurance(WPPA) in America. IMHO

Insurance, Universal Health, and BS (slight repeat)

I would not be the first one to point out that this is the way things are. Hospital bills are insanely high. The birthing of my child including the subsequent 11 days of hospital NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stay at the Stanford Lucile Packard Children Hospital resulted in a combined bill for both mom and child of $157k. And let me say upfront the staff at LPCH worked very hard to make our stay comfortable. We learned a lot about taking care of the baby there from all the wonderful nurses and Dr.’s

$175k is a lot of money: With that money I could three(3) base Model S’s. Or I could pay off of some of my mortgage. Or pay off my parent’s mortgage. At my planned saving rate of about $20k a year, it would take me 8.5 years to accumulate that amount of money, just for a single incident of child-birth(not including continuing costs after the fact). Now, being an informed modern man, I appreciate the 99.99%(estimated) success rate of child-birth that this cost buys me. And indeed my child is healthy and alive, and she may very well not be if we had her in a wilder situation where the cost is less. The peace of mind that we have knowing that there is a machine and two nurses watching over the child during those tenuous times is very much worth it.

Now there are two issues of concern. One of them is that the entire process was not 100% pleasant, there were times when we wondered if the doctors/nurses/staff were picking on us because of our minority status or apparent lack of wealth or influence. Some staff were quite obnoxious, one even dropped his badge in an inconspicuous place in order to lift my wife’s cover to search for it. what a pervert!

Anyway, that’s not the problem. This $175k bill would have put me in debt for 8.5 years if I did not have an insurance. The insurance company negotiated a different price tier and then paid for about 95% of the negotiated fees to the LPCH. Without insurance company, I may have simply taken the child home after birth and watched her stop breathing and then eventually rush her body to the hospital. Without insurance, my wife would suffer from untreated back injury from the birthing process. Without insurance, I would not be able to take the baby to a dr. about the mucky eyes she has and eating/pooping/peeing issues and various growths and spots and all kinds of weird alien things baby produce. Life would not be life as I know it without the group comprehensive insurance provided by my employer.

Recalling just a mere 6 months prior to this, I was rejected for insurance by a large PPO because I checked a box that said I snored–due to a prior condition. I am a fairly healthy person in my mid 30’s and being rejected for health insurance was the last thing I expected… it kind of ended my consulting career.

Let’s think of health insurance in more detail. Insurance is a benefit, part of my compensation package, my employee give me for my service to the company. What this means is that I must work for an employee that provides group insurance in order to continue to receive this kind of benefit.

It would seem that the pressure and flow of money is as follows: medical cost is high, insanely high, to a point that it would appear an uninsured person cannot pay for basic care. Each individual is highly incentivized to work for large corporations that provide group health insurance, because if they don’t they cannot get health coverage and because the cost of health care is high, they cannot get health care. (oh, and also in the same breath, only spouse of a heterosexual marriage can benefit under group health insurance)

I personally appreciate the role of doctors play in society. They use their life’s time and energy to become good at treating people’s illnesses so that other people can live long and happy lives. I think the medical-industrial-complex that power advanced research in science and technology that produce advanced diagnostic tools (xray,mri, etc.) and drugs, and genetic therapy, and stem cell research, all these things trying to make people’s life better are great! It costs a lot of money and require a lot of resources: universities, hospitals, buildings, power/computing infrastructure, lots of smart people to achieve advancement. So an expensive drug, expensive test, if charged by original developer, is cost to pay for past and future research. Expensive doctor is to pay for his educational cost and to maintain his alertness, dedication to the unbiased professional medical treatment of his patients. I want them to make more money because I don’t want to have to wonder if my Jewish doctor treat Jewish children better than my child or if my Russian doctor treat his Russian patients differently from my wife. I want to receive good treatment and I believe that most doctors are paid above other people not only because of their unique skill sets but also because they rise above all that, ethically, and heal their patients any human patients to health.

BUT, that fact is being exploited by large corporations. Only large corporations can afford group health insurance. Therefore only they have access to people who want health care. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with this. But practically it forces all health-conscious people to subscribe to corporate culture. We do not have a choice in how we contribute to society, but as long as we want to see a doctor when we need, we must be part of a large organization full-time.

Some additional aspects of this arrangement: If I had a serious prior condition that requires constant treatment, then I must be employed at a large company in order to survive with life. If there are any bias in corporate employment then the same bias would occur in availability of medical treatment. If I stop working or have never had insurance, I must work for a company because I will not be able to get insurance having a break in health coverage. I cannot leave the company for injustice or corruption immediately and in the duration of dispute, I may not be able to continue with insurance, and the interruption in coverage will result in the impossibility of my getting health insurance.

I have always been in favor of universal health care in America. This is not because I come from a faux-social/communist China. I am in favor of universal health care despite the fact that the medical super industry will not receive as much money from patients because the US government will surely negotiate an even better price than the private insurance companies. I am in favor of universal health care–for basic maintenance care–because health, along with wealth, is part of our pursuit of happiness. I do not believe one can be happy secured with his wealth but insecure with his health, and we should have the freedom to choose health independent of wealth. Health is life. Right of life means right of health, protection for right of life means protection for right of health–in fact protection to right of health should be on par with the right to secure one’s wealth. Health is happiness. Pursuit of happiness requires health. This is why I think universal health care–to a certain level–is a must. Even if it detracts slightly from advanced medical research.

Okay, moving on. A thought occur to me the other day on the way home from my health-coverage earning job in corporate America. I thought of the transitive action space(TAS) more. The TAS encodes actions between people, therefore should be thought of as only encompassing all endeavors regarding acting morally. Again, I justify this because the original thread of thought came form the golden and silver rules of ethics both of which directs us in how to act.

But clearly they have said more than that, for instance it has been said that one should “love thy neighbor as thy self.” Granted this a command in the TAS, but more action this is a feeling. Love is a feeling, is a state of mind that can occur without visible action in the TAS. Perhaps we should also mention the existence of transitive emotional space, TES. Subsets of TES instructs us about the moral ways to feel–whether we have control over feelings, and are they moral if we control the feeling rather than naturally feel, is an entirely different discussion. We can, in fact, specify the subspace of TES that is moral, the Bible sure does.

There are of course yet other instructions in morality that instructs us on how to “be”. “Be one with God,” “Be one with the universe,” “Being a higher being,” “Being enlightened”… and so on and so forth. Some argue that the being is creating an internal state, and therefore being moral is the moral motive force that enable us to act and feel morally. Some even stipulate that without a moral motive force a moral space in TAS is not moral. For instance, if I feed my baby with an intent driven by the perverted curiosity of seeing a grossly obese 1yr old, then the action of “feeding a baby” in TAS is entirely moral (possibly universally), but the being inside BS is immoral. Most would agree that the act is entirely immoral.

Therefore we should also seriously consider BS–Being Space that contain all the ways that we could be. The challenge of such a space is that BS is of much higher cardinality than TAS. In the real world, we can very likely specify countable discrete TAS for a certain self contained situation in which we have to make moral choices, where as I am not able to imagine the “enlightened” and “universe” beingness of BS–do they intersect? does one contain the other? What are the sets in TAS that corresponds to their intersections? Does intersection and containment make sense in the BS? How do I choice to be something BS? How do I be something in the BS?

Ultimately, the choice of TAS seem rightous at this stage of my investigation. And I beleive that even if BS is ultimately the only space where morality is true, that there is a TAS projection from BS that can be modeled. From time to time, we may need to point out the relation between a TAS set and BS but until I have the language to discuss it, BS shall remain mysterious and unexplained.