Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Book Review: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

 


The Righteous Mind is a book about morals. At first glance, morality may belong to the realm of philosophers and theologians, but not actuaries.  Indeed, it may be hard to find a discourse on the greater good in a statistics text book.  Yet, there are three reasons I think actuaries will find this book appealing:

  1. Much of what actuaries are concerned with involves predicting human behavior. Perhaps understanding someone's moral framework can yield insights about their risk taking behavior or why they'd even consider buying insurance (or cheating the insurer). 
  2. The book provides mathematical framework for morality. The author introduces the Morality Matrix, which should get the actuarial taste buds salivating. Haidt expands left/right orientations into a deeper palate of dimension. For actuaries who enjoy component based studies, this will be a welcome analysis.
  3. Actuaries are humans, too. This book offers a look in the mirror, an opportunity to "know thyself" a little bit better, and also sheds some light on your fellow human beings.
This book challenged some of the conventions I had about the role and value of reason in my decision making and justifications It gave me an opportunity to check my biases. Most importantly it gave me language/tools to understand the current political and social landscape in a way that the mainstream media misses.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Actuaryland: A Theme Park Designed By and For Actuaries

Inspired by recent activity on Twitter, a nationally recognized amusement park design firm is entering a concept phase for a new niche attraction. 

The impetus of the idea came out of an exchange on the popularity of Bayesian Statistics - to which one @loveactuary responded "in actuaryland we love em" - to which @EvanSparks chimed in "Actuaryland: the theme park where all the roller coasters have accurate forecast for how long a guest can ride before throwing up." This is now commonly referred to as the Puke Index.

And thus a concept is born.



Like all theme parks, the admission price will likely cost a small fortune. @nateworrell went as far to say that all tickets will have to be 'prefunded.' 

Even with a ticket, the entry into the park will likely require patrons to have to pass through a series of entry requirements, each one mentally and emotionally demanding. Less than half of ticketed guests are expected to actually make it into the park.

Once in the park there are several marquee attractions. Of course lines and wait times are going to be unavoidable - @Catuary1 adds a new twist with a policy not to disclose estimated wait times to park goers. Instead "they will roughly tell you how long the wait is but it is very vague...".  This should certainly ramp up the levels of anxiety and apprehension!

And as you read the descriptions, it is important to remember that in Actuaryland "all the rides are simulations" (@nateworrell):

Friday, March 11, 2022

Viral Viruses - Booster Edition



Here we go with round 3 of the Corona series! 

Chronicle/Recap:

  • When a Virus Goes Viral (2020) - "It’s not an abnormal thing to wonder when things will get back to normal. I don’t believe they will, I don’t think they ever do."

  • When a Virus Stays Viral (2021) - "I don't know what the right answer is, but if you are arguing for restaurants and bars to open up, tell me how many grandmas you are willing to kill. Conversely, if you want to save your grandma's life, tell me how many of your neighbors should lose their homes or jobs."

We will quickly revisit the core three buckets that are continually evolving:
  1. Decision making/uncertainty
  2. Risk models
  3. Major structural changes in the world
And for our "Booster," I will look at the questions raised in round two.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY post pandemic
  • How do we recover all the bailout, relief money?
  • How do rental markets/evictions unfold?
  • Relocation effects?
  • Company Mergers/Acquisitions - particularly in travel and entertainment

Assessment of VACCINES and  RELATED POLICIES

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Box Tops and Other Ways to Earn Actuarial Credentials



Recently, the SOA announced new ways to get credit toward an actuarial credential via university credit.  The approach was viewed with mixed results.  The SOA claimed the initiative was motivated to foster inclusion. The Organization of Latino Actuaries wrote a public letter asking the SOA to withdraw the program on the basis that it is counterproductive to inclusivity goals.

Whether or not the SOA goes back to the drawing board remains to be seen. In the interim other means of credentialing actuaries are emerging.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

SF14 - A Glimpse Inside the Minds of Actuaries



Actuarial authors of the 14th Speculative Fiction contest wrote stories (or graphic novel, play, or transcript) that cover social issues, political unrest, and pandemic and climate crises. Yet, amidst the dystopia, there's a constant call to appeal to our better angels. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

When a Virus Stays Viral



Last year I posted "When a Virus Goes Viral"   - 

Since then, I grew and shaved a corona beard:



I created parody songs - "Coronaville" (below),  "My Corona" (which I made for my coworkers and has some inside references) and I put a spin on some holiday favorites ( like Baby There's Covid Outside).



I made some good progress on my Netflix backlog. 

It seem the rest of the world has been doing the best it can to get through the pandemic. How are you doing folks? 

I wanted to do some reflecting and revisiting. As a recap, there are 3 items that I was curious about: 

  1. Irrationality
  2. Evolutions in risk modeling
  3. The post-COVID world. 

Disclaimers: These observations are U.S. oriented.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Octavia Butler Would Have Been A Great Actuary

As I was scanning through the world of Speculative Fiction*, looking for inspiration for my next entry in to the Society of Actuaries Speculative Fiction contest, I found, and fell in love with, the writing of Octavia Butler.


"Speech Sounds" is a short story that somehow manages to capture the entirety of the human experience, our demons and our angels, in 20 pages. It features a woman trying to survive in the middle of a pandemic that impairs our ability to communicate.  Sometimes fictions mirrors reality quite well.  

I take refuge in Octavia's words about the story in the afterword:

“Speech Sounds” was conceived in weariness, depression, and sorrow. I began the story feeling little hope or liking for the human species, but by the time I reached the end of it, my hope had come back. It always seems to do that."

Perhaps it is not too surprising that we find our world reflected in her writings. While we might not have to deal with telepathic vampires, we certainly do live in a world that has to deal with the consequences of the human tendency to create hierarchies.  

In her NPR essay, Octavia posits that we might be fatally destined to cycles of domination. Yet, she concludes with the following question:

Amid all this, does tolerance have a chance?

Only if we want it to. Only when we want it to. Tolerance, like any aspect of peace, is forever a work in progress, never completed, and, if we're as intelligent as we like to think we are, never abandoned.

But what do her musings on the human condition have to do with being an actuary? 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Insurance Rocks!



Lemonade recently posted reviews of some bands you may have never heard of before (possibly because they don’t exist). 

Names like Moral Hazard, Named Perils and Windstorm made their profile list.

https://www.lemonade.com/blog/insurance-terms-as-bands/

Their list was not exhaustive, so the Between the Spreadsheets staff is working hard to uncover other acts that have names that echo insurance terminology.

Here are a few we have found so far.

ELIMINATION PERIOD
This emo group that hails from the cornfields of Iowa. Their latest EP features an effortless blend of wailing vocals and layered harmonies. They will be in your town soon and we are counting the days.


CASH VALUE
We surrender to this acapella group known for their creative takes on popular songs. The fun never lapses in ‘Covered Conditions’ including a riveting take on Disney’s “Let it Go.”



LAST TO DIE
A folksy duo that explores the journeys of human relationships. The songs ‘Be My Beneficiary’ and ‘Don’t Deny Me’ reveal the creativity of this joint effort. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Book Review: Winning Conditions by Christine Hofbeck

I remember my initial reaction when I heard that there was going to be an actuary on Survivor. 

"She'll probably win."  I said, without hesitating. 

And I remember the stunned look of my coworker, who was struggling to imagine the cube dwelling nerds she knew trying to endure the rigor of a survival based game.

I had no idea who Christine was. And perhaps I was a bit overconfident and biased about the skills of my fellow actuaries. Although, I think my gut reaction was well founded. 

  1. Many actuaries make a career out of working with life and death statistics, and all of us studied survival curves along the way, so the subject is in our blood.  
  2. I had played poker (and another elaborate card game that was different each time you play) against other actuaries, and had witnessed the shrewdness with which they play. 
  3. The fact that the TV show thought she'd be worth being on camera signaled to me that she probably had some moxie. 
  4. I knew she'd be the underdog, which would give her an competitive edge. She'd be out to prove something and the other competitors would underestimate her.
Winning Conditions will give you a closer look at this puzzle loving, adventure seeking and charismatic actuary, but it is so much more than that. This book could save humanity.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Do You Know More About Your Uber Driver Than Your Local Police Officer?


In the wake of the unrest following the death of George Floyd, I decided to take some time to look at the numbers and data on police conduct. While there are groups working to track information on this topic, the overall data landscape is fairly barren. Attached is a paper reviewing my findings.

Note that I am not a career researcher in this space. I do not claim to be an expertise in these manners. I hope it sparks discussion around how we can contribute to add more quality information to sensitive issues.

Meaningful Change Requires Meaningful Data

Friday, June 12, 2020

Manager Thought Actuary was Protesting for a Decade



A local actuary informed his manager that he would take the day off to join some peaceful protesters.

The manager was stunned. 

For the past ten years the actuary had been virtually silent at work and avoided most team building exercises.

The manager admitted she completely misread the lack of eye contact as an intentional act designed to bring awareness to some cause.

“I thought he was making a statement about the corporate world not seeing people as people or something. I thought it was strange to protest in the middle of a protest.”

The confusion went both ways. The actuary explained (through email) that the manager was just really a supportive person. She’d often say “I’m with you.”

When asked why she never inquired about what issue the imagined protest was concerning, her explanation was simple “I didn’t want to look like a fool.”

After a follow up meeting, both sides agreed to make changes. The manager is making less assumptions and learning a lot more about her staff. The actuary committed to go to more happy hours. As a result the work environment is stronger than ever and morale is super high. 

They are hoping to share these tactics with other groups. They have cautious optimism that they might find out what the people in Corporate Business Strategy actually do.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Book Review: Being Wrong - Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Shulz

Wrongness is a small obsession of mine.

A while back I put out a piece on the blog that looked at occupations where being wrong is part of the job description.

And more recently I won an essay contest by explaining that I am an Idiot.

I love stories of the hapless fool - the Don Quixote's and Confederacy of Dunces of the world.

I picked up this book from a really good article series "Studying Studies" by a smart dude named Peter Attia. I may keep working through his reading list.

If you're the kind of person who loves droning about the nature of the universe at your favorite craft brewery, I know I am, this book is for you.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

When a Virus Goes Viral

In the words of Twenty One Pilots, “I’ve been thinking too much...” please indulge me in some musings on our current state of affairs and some of the implications.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Advice from a Pro! 37 Life Lessons.

Between the Spreadsheets is happy to add Mark Farrell's blog to our links.

Here are his "37 Lessons Actuarial Science Has Taught Me About Life"


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Eat Your Numbers

In case you missed it, I wrote a Cover Feature for Contingencies Magazine.  You may start to see more posts related to this theme in the near future. Enjoy!




Saturday, July 13, 2019

Book Review: Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman


We’ve conquered death! Awesome! Well more accurately , we developed nearly omniscient  Artificial Intelligence (the Thunderhead) that solved all our problems. The answer wasn’t 42 after all.

However, a world with no death faces two challenges.

1. Death (and avoiding it) is a motivating factor to live well.

2. The planet can only handle so many people.

To counter these issues, the creators of the Thunderhead established a league of special individuals that are exempt from monitoring by the Thunderhead. Known as the Scythdom, these people have a singular mandate - the administration of mortality.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2018 Actuarial Awards



Roll out the red carpet!  Awards are everywhere....Emmys, Grammys, ESPYs, oh my!

While not given the exact same spotlight, or fancy evening wear, actuaries give out their own sets of Awards.  The 2018 summary is below.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Are Actuaries Born or is it a Choice?

When Rita was 3 years old she had a tendency to stack blocks in probability distribution shapes. At first her mother thought the patterns were just imaginative.  But then when Rita started making histograms with candy pieces and named her pet hamster 'chi-squared', she understood there was something else at play.  Rita is now a junior in college and is bristling with excitement at starting her first internship at an insurance company in the actuarial department.

Angela is also starting her first internship in the same area.   She still isn't sure if the actuarial science will live up to its hype.  She's also thinking about the possibility of being a math teacher or trying to make it as a drummer in a female punk rock band.

Both women represent two ends of the hotly debated topic - are actuaries born or is it a choice?

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Between the Spreadsheets and In the Closet

Calling your attention to a new page on Between the Spreadsheets.

NERD CLOSET


This is a resource page where I will share an post items that I find to be useful as a nerd, an actuary, and as a basic human on the planet.

Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

Some products are affiliate links.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Big Data needs Big Actuaries

The American Academy of Actuaries recently published a monograph Big Data and the Role of the Actuary.

Some speculate that the Academy may also produce a monolith dedicated to Big Data as well.



Or maybe a monogram.


Either way, what is certain is that Big Data and the applicable statistical methods that come along with it are going to play a significant role in the actuarial profession.

And in order to handle Big Data, you need a Big Actuary.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review of the Human Longevity Project Series

Over the past 9 days, a series of videos compiled by The Human Longevity Project, explored various topics related to human longevity. This is not a typical Netflix binge watch, although the old folks they interviewed were quite adorable. The series delivered huge dosages of scientific content from a vast panel of experts.


Monday, March 12, 2018

March Madness 2018 - Actuarial School Bracket

Most likely, having an actuarial program has next to zero correlation with NCAA tournament success.  I haven't done the full blown anlaysis, I might one day. That said, the tournament does have a degree of randomness, and using actuarial strength as a game predictor is just as good as throwing darts.  Possibly better.

The full bracket is available here (may require CBS login):
http://freebracketchallenge.1.mayhem.cbssports.com/brackets/1/njworrell

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I'd Like to Thank The Academy....2017 Actuarial Awards Summary


©NaimaLett.com: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, Lombardi, O’Brien, Commissioner, Olympic Gold

The Oscars completes the awards season.  Awards are everywhere....Emmys, Grammys, ESPYs, oh my!  Even the POTUS submitted his own version of awards.

While not given the exact same spotlight, or fancy evening wear, actuaries give out their own sets of Awards.  The 2017 summary is below.

Friday, November 10, 2017

New Actuarial Standard on How To Put on Pants


Recent ASB proposals for modeling, pricing, and assumption setting standards of practice seem to be starting a trend of codifying every single action an actuary takes.  The latest release seems to confirm this theory.

An exposure draft, titled  "Lower Body Coverings" is currently in progress.

Apparently there is much concern in the actuarial community about the quality of work can vary based on how one applies lower limb coverings. An improper procedure may result in further deterioration of judgment, confidence, and overall work product. To put it one way, the exposure draft deals with the risks of feeling drafts while exposed.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

New Insurance Products Announced for Undead


In an effort to find new business, insurers are dabbling into new, untapped markets.

Traditionally the insurance industry protected against two risks - dying to soon via Life Insurance or outliving your assets (longevity) via Annuities.

The limiting factor to each of these is that you either had to be alive or die to collect a claim.  This was an issue if you were already dead, sort of dead, or came back to life after death.  Now, a new set of products is coming on to the market to meet those needs.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bayesian Rhapsody

The whole thing with Bayes is about updating likelihoods given more information. Let's see how Queen takes us on a Bayesian journey.

Update:  The Bohemian Rhapsody movie did not take any of this information into account.

We start with a fundamental question about the nature of reality, and fact about landslides.
Is this the real life? Pr(Real Life) = ?
Is this just fantasy? Pr(Fantasy) = 1 - Pr(Real Life)
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality Pr(Real Life | Caught in a landslide ) = 1

Friday, March 3, 2017

The 12th Actuarial Speculative Fiction Contest



Below are stories from the 12th Actuarial Fiction Contest, with my own quick synopsis of the story and images from around the web that might work as a cover. Summaries and cover art are my own interpretations.  Please vote on your favorites.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

You Wouldn't Believe What Jacob Bernoulli Looks Like Now

What would it be like if historic mathematicians lived today and were as popular as some of the most notorious celebs?  In this series of posts (#mathgonewild) Between the Spreadsheets makes parallels between founders of major mathematical thought and current celebs, and we create some tabloid headings. Feel free to comment, argue, or add to the list.

The  Bernoulli's 


Ever heard the song "John -Jacob-Jinglehiemer Schmidt?"  Probably came from these guys, where most dudes in the family are names Johan or Jacob or Nick. The family has an impressive resume, but the tabloids are pretty good too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Models and Drunks

I am not referring to Gigi or Gisele or Gumble or Griffin.  Rather, "models and drunks" is a contrite summary of a couple of my recent readings that I figured should find their way to this space. (By the way,  this confusion about models has happened before.)

First, models. I have long been a fan of the phrase that "all models are wrong, but some are useful." However, much to my shame, I know not where it came from.  Now I do. Thank you Twitter for enlightening me about George Box and his paper.   Not only am I know aware, but I have been shaken to my core. More on that later.

Second, drunks - and specifically how they walk.  The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (http://leonardmlodinow.com/) is what I call a mathematician's apologetic - an attempt to make math accessible to the masses.   His book is part of my attempt to work through a reading list (again - thanks Twitter!) of math texts.  I give the guy a couple of stars for effort on the mathematical narration, but the real gold is in the cast of characters.  They will be featured in a future post.  In this post, I will leave you with flip flops.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Vitality Compass vs. Longevity Illustrator

If you want to know how long you are going to live, you could consult a palm reader or some other mystic.  Alternatively you could look to science, math and academia.  But who wins between academics and actuaries?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Engage or Disengage?

Recently, the Society of Actuaries deployed their latest community site, SOA Engage.
https://engage.soa.org/home


While unlikely to get the traction of the Actuarial Outpost or a Reinsurance sponsored Happy Hour at a symposium, the threshold is pretty low.  A few actuaries showing up will likely be considered a win.

This initiative brings to mind a past article by BTS, about actuaries engineering anti-social Media.
http://betweenthespreadsheets.blogspot.ca/2013/04/actuaries-engineer-anti-social-media.html

Saturday, July 9, 2016

If Donald Trump Ran for SOA President

The current political pageantry and it's primary peacock, one Donald J Trump, has inspired Between the Spreadsheets to ponder, if we could find it palatable, a parallel universe in which this prima dona found himself placed on the ballot for SOA President. 

We pulled the questionnaire from the society's website and did our best to imagine how the Donald may have answered, pulling direct quotes where possible, indicated by " ", everything else is fiction.

Readers are welcome to add Trumpisms that may apply.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Actuarial @ASAPscience

We call ourselves actuaries, but how many of us could call ourselves scientists as well?  After all, the field we practice is Actuarial Science.

And yes, bulk of our discipline is math and probability based, but let us not kid ourselves that we are unique in our application of these subjects.


I've always love exploring the science behind the events that we create insurance products for.  Recently, I came across the guys at ASAPscience, and their fun YouTube videos.  Below are a few that pertain to actuarial concepts.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get up Again

As an actuary, my life revolves around studying the risks of shitty things happening.  I know that the whims of the universe may smite me with some nasty disease or some sleepy bus driver could turn me into a pavement pizza.  As such, I have protected myself and my family from the financial strain of such calamities through the purchase of the various insurance products I've grown to love.  They're like a family that protects my family...



Then came the day that I never saw coming.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Paid To Be Wrong vs. Paid to be Right

For today's Nate Note, I'm considering various occupations and various tolerances for "rightness" and "wrongness".  My primary question is, in what professions can you be wrong and still keep your job?


Friday, March 4, 2016

Comedian Louis CK Goes Full Actuary

So I'm watching Netflix and enjoying a little comedy when I hear Louis CK make some actuarial statements. In this video clip, you can hear his remarks - note that this YouTube link is not authorized by Louis CK to my knowledge and it is his full special.  There is strong language in it. You can find the full version on Netflix or purchase it from Louis CK's website. After watching for a minute or so, let's unpack the statements.  I'll try to do it in such a way that even non-actuary's can follow. Other actuaries reading this - my methods are crude, feel free to make it more exact if you desire.


Friday, December 18, 2015

The Fed Awakens - Actuarial Reactions Vary

Image from Jeff Burney at
 http://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/26133
The rumors, speculation and controversial photos of the fed funds rate looking a bit pudgier than normal can come to an end as Janet Yellen confirmed that rates are no longer zero.

The recent Fed announcement that marked the end of easy money also sparked interesting reactions from the actuarial community.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Clipped Art - Actuarial Tombstone

I always assumed that I would donate my body to science or get cremated, and not need a tombstone.  After this idea popped in my head, I may just get one regardless.


Translations...

Monday, August 17, 2015

If There was a Fantasy League for Actuaries....

Drafts occur at the SOA annual meeting.

Rosters need to include:
3 Pre-ASA Students
2 Post-ASA Students
3 Fully Credentialed Actuaries, one of which must be a consultant
1 Appointed Actuary
1 Chief Actuary
1 Insurance/Financial/Software/Risk Management Company that employs at least 50 actuaries

Scoring:
10 points per preliminary exam passed
5 points first time pass bonus
2 points per FAP module completed
3 points per passed Assessment
20 points per FSA/FCAS exam passed
4 points per FSA module completed
5 points for acheiving any credential (FSA, FCAS, CERA, ASA, etc.)
1 point per hour of CPD
4 points per speech/presentation at a symposium
7 points for any signed statement of actuarial opinion or rate filing
3 points per hired actuary
-3 points per lost actuary
-5 points for any ABCD greivance filed against anyone on the roster

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Society of Actuaries Logos That Didn't Make the Cut

In the latest attempt to rouge the lips of the swine that is the Society of Actuaries brand, (see the Image of the Actuary as the previous campaign), a new logo emerged as the graphical representation of the organization.


The "infinity shield", according the brand website "symbolizes that the SOA is continually evolving to produce forward-thinking education and professional development opportunities. The shield represents a strong, fortified foundation, bound by standards and principles that advance your interests."

Wikipedia calls it an "impossible object".

So, quite simply, the essence of an actuary is represented by an infinite impossibility. Fitting, as much of the public still has no idea what actuaries do and some still doubt that actuaries actually exist. Why not be represented by a geometric symbol from the realm of mythology and legend?
Sources leaked some alternative designs that almost made the cut:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hug An Actuary!

When it comes to Actuarial swag, there's not a whole lot out there.  However, recently at a conference, a "Hug An Actuary" hat made a noticeable appearance among the humdrum of business casual. This inspired the following list of reasons (if you needed any) to Hug an Actuary!


  1. Actuaries won't bite.  They are gentle creatures, although solitary at times (like cats in a way) - which leads to...
  2. It will force an actuary to interact with another human being
  3. They may have just learned if they passed or failed the exam they were studying for and need to celebrate or be comforted.
  4. They may be studying for an exam, in which case they could use some reassurance and a little confidence boost.
  5. Some analytical skills might rub off.  At the very least you might find yourself a little more proficient in Excel.
  6. It's a good way to confirm the actuary is not a robot.
  7. It's a good way to confirm that actuaries actually exist.
  8. If lots of actuaries get hugs, then the prices of insurance in the market might drop, starting an economic boost.
  9. It might lead to steamier forms of physical contact (this may be a drawback)
  10. HUGS ARE AWESOME!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Why do churches buy insurance?

After all, don't most sacred texts encourage a sort of dependency on the higher powers?  Does the act of purchasing protection from "acts of  God" seem to imply a lack of faith?  Or is it simply just a good idea and a prudent way to manage these houses of worship?


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Nate-rodamous

For much of my actuarial career, I have used computer programs to collide one set of numbers (representing you and me and other insured folks) with another set of numbers (representing fate and chance) to produce a third set of numbers which I use to figure how much to charge for a promise, or to make sure that the insurance company can keep its promise.

Some insurance is short term in nature, but things like Annuities, Long Term Care and Life Insurance require forecasts far into the future, often 30 to even 50 years!  30 years ago there were no smart phones, no YouTube videos of cats, and "Googol" meant a really large number. (10 with 100 zeroes after it).

The forecasting models we use are not as advanced as Doc's DeLorean.

To be honest, Actuaries don't know what exactly will happen in the future. Although I played with this idea in my more humorous posts (Scenario 241 Sucks and Actuary Accidentally Invents Time Travel).  The models are basically advanced tools to see how many times you'll get snake-eyes on the craps table if you played once a month for the next three decades. Thankfully, most insurance risks are predictable in the long run.

But, financial mathematicians have also had to eat some crow when the unpredictable happens and models fail.

For me, I think that running a predictive model without considering what the future might look like is like a meteorologist predicting the weather using a computer and never looking out the window. For instance,  I think the recent study from the Global Challenges Foundation on 12 Risks With Infinite Impact should be mandatory reading. Full report here, summary here.

I therefore submit for your consideration some predictions of events (good and bad) that will occur over the next 30 years (or sooner!):

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Insurance Commissioner Rejects Filing for Being Completly Understandable

When the filing came across the examiner's desk, she thought it was a joke.

"The writing was so crisp - simple words, short sentences, you know that sort of thing.  I understood it after the first reading. And that's what I found so alarming." Explained the examiner.

an old insurance contractThe usual course for insurance contract filings often involves a series of interchanges between the insurance company and the regulatory authority before a product can be sold to the public.  Insurers often wonder if the commissioners actually read what they wrote.  Commissioners often wonder if the filing was written in English.

When the document in question reached the desk of this particular Commissioner, he knew that something must be done.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Feature - Nate Notes


I have lots of thoughts. They pop up and reproduce like fruit flies, and I have a hell of a time trying to get them out of my head.

So, I'm going to start dumping them here and tagging them #natenotes.  They should have some shred of actuarial connection. I'd usually dump this stuff on to the Actuarial Outpost, but I want this blog to serve as a bridge between actuaries and the public. 

Over the next few months, I'll be exploring topics like:
  • The Impending Robot Revolution
  • Nate-rodamous - My Predictions of the Future
  • Taking Chances and Making Bets
  • The Next Phase of Human Evolution
  • Why Do Churches Buy Insurance?
  • Are Actuaries Overpaid?
...and more.  So stay tuned!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A New Way To Fill Out March Madness Brackets


Why not choose actuarial schools?  For my latest distraction, I am chronicling the basketball tournament results for schools with actuarial programs.

Should help in your office pools, or any talented hoopster with math skills trying to decide on which school to go to.

Would love to get help from anyone who's interested.

http://goo.gl/sfIVZ2

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Actuarial Dis-Organizations

What started as a "yo-momma" joke has escalated into a full out battle for middle earth. At least, that is how it seems as some major actuarial organizations engage in a turf war.

To recap for the general public:
  1. Actuaries are not mythical creatures.  They exist and provide a service to the public through pricing and mitigating financial risks.
  2. Several actuarial organizations help actuaries accomplish that goal. 
    • Some are country specific.
    • Others are international.
    • Others are practice oriented.
  3. Individual actuaries can be, and often are, members of multiple organizations.
  4. Each group has its own concerns, but until recently, they have been more collaborative than combative.  
But things changed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chart! Beer consumption and tolerability

Awkward Moments Saturate Actuarial Conference

The sun rises. Hundreds of actuaries congregate outside the conference rooms at the resort-hotel, rummaging through stale pastries, fruit that hadn't fully ripened, and fresh brewed coffee.

They try networking. Their efforts are motivated more by obligation, proximity to other actuaries and social norms than strong desires to interact with other human beings.