Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Alerts, Alarms and Algedonic Signals

Trevor writes

The SEC, FSA or whoever can receive automatic alerts if anything odd is going on ...

Some houses have burglar alarms, linked to the local police station. Many people have car alarms loud enough to wake the street. Smart burglars may simply go around creating events to trigger the alarms, thus generating enough apparently false positives to subvert the social system on which the effectiveness of the alarms depends.

Trevor may be able to demonstrate the technical integrity of some monitoring and alert system, but Aidan's point refers to the social system in which this is embedded.

And it is the wider social system that should judge what counts as "anything odd" in the first place. Following the argument of this blog, this judgement should rest on some evidence-based system of appreciative enquiry and not just a bureaucratic application of some simple rules.

Stafford Beer once proposed a technical mechanism for gauging social satisfaction, which he called the Algedonic Meter, but at the same time he pointed out the limitations of such a mechanism.