Actuarial Science

I’m a math guy. I’ve been good with numbers since I was young. But to tell you the truth, math has almost everything and nothing to do with being an actuary at the same time. I chose this major because it was fascinating to me to learn that mathematics had such an important application in risk management in business, especially when it involves statistics of risk. To be able to predict the future has always been mythic and explored by people for centuries. In practice, to actually use quantitative measures to predict the future and make financial decisions based off those findings is extraordinary. I want to be one of those people that can do it.

Computers are used by actuaries on a regular basis. In fact, they are highly dependent on the use of a computer in order to create the charts, crunch the calculations, and provide metrics to enhance the analysis of data obtained. Heck, computers are probably even used to obtain the data in the first place. In the extremely technologically dependent work scene we live around nowadays, it is impossible to escape the use of computer and technology.

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Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz, creator of reddit, was more than just an insane computer programmer with a talent beyond many today. He felt that the internet was a place where people should be completely free to express or do whatever they so choose as long as they do not infringe on others’ rights to free speech. Because of this, he was very against the protection of information, especially that which he felt should be available to the masses. He was accused of stealing the entire JSTOR library and putting it up on the web for access freely. He was arrested and punished criminally by the FBI and US Government. He hung himself on January 8th, 2013. By using a laptop connected to a networking switch, he had gained access to MIT servers. This unauthorized access gave the government grounds to charge him with two counts of breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony. He was eventually indicted on counts of wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information and recklessly damaging a computer. But when the FBI noticed who he was, they did everything in their power to make sure he never saw the light of day. They tagged on nine felony counts which could lead him serving a maximum of 50 years and a $1 million fine.

One iconic quote taken from a friend at his eulogy: “the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a ‘felon’. For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept.” Does this mean that the government is to blame for the death of a man who was guilty in the eyes of the few and a heroic leader in the eyes of the many on the internet? Is the law worth the life of a person committing privacy crimes that hurt no one? These points should be considered

 

 

Cai, Anne (January 12, 2013). “Aaron Swartz commits suicide”The TechMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved January 12, 2013.

Lessig, Lawrence (January 12, 2013). “Prosecutor as bully”Lessig Blog, v2. “Aaron consulted me as a friend and lawyer…. [M]y obligations to Harvard created a conflict that made it impossible for me to continue as a lawyer…. …I get wrong. But I also get proportionality.”

“Indictment, USA v. Swartz, 1:11-cr-10260, No. 2 (D.Mass. Jul. 14, 2011)”. MIT. 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2013-01-23. Superseded by “Superseding Indictment, USA v. Swartz, 1:11-cr-10260, No. 53 (D.Mass. Sep. 12, 2012)”. Docketalarm.com. 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2013-10-30.

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STEM Education

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As clearly seen from the infographic, majors in science, technology, education and math (also known as STEM) help propel our future generations to keep up with countries around the globe whose education in such principles is far more advanced than the United states. The growth is there, now all we have to do is fill the gap in schools at the high school and below levels. This is where the real formation of appreciation for STEM principles happens and I think by targeting this group of people more into majors that are STEM will keep the US at the forefront of STEM education.

Staff, Edutopia. “The Value of a STEM Education.” Edutopia. N.p., 3 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://www.edutopia.org/stw-college-career-stem-infographic&gt;.

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MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

Massive online open courses were created to bring the gift of education to anyone with an internet connection. The prospect of being able to get a degree online sounds fascinating and “super cheap.” (Basulto 2013) But one main focus of concern that is brought up time and time again is the ability to don an education from one of these online courses in a subject area that can be beyond the scope of an online course, like humanities subjects and literature/writing. Also, there is a huge distraction of the internet when a student must go online to get the education and they do not “feel” like doing so at the time.

Many other educators also feel that the professor profession might be at risk due to these MOOCs. (Newman et al. 2013) But the ability to bring an education to people who would otherwise have no ability to get a decent education due to their location and surroundings is a contribution that seems worthy for humanity’s sake.

Finally, one author wrote a piece that discusses all these benefits, but proves that without educators and creators of MOOCs stepping up their game to really make online courses foolproof to cheating and allowing all students to get an equal and enhanced education, there is no future for MOOCs. (Youngman 2013) It just goes to show that it is definitely prospective, but without constant improvement and innovation, it is not there yet and will not be until more work is done.

Basulto, D. (2013, October 8). MOOCs going mainstream? This may be the year. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2013/10/08/moocs-going-mainstream-this-may-be-the-year/

Newman, L., Petrigliari, G., Kanter, R. M., Erickson, J., Freeman, K., Howell, R., et al. (2013, October 11). What Are the Opportunities—and Risks—in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Business Model?. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230456100457913536326

Youngman, O. (2013, October 17). Massive open online courses: a first report card | Owen Youngman | Comment is free | theguardian.com . The Guardian . Retrieved October 17, 2013, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/17/massive-open-online-courses-report-card

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US Intervention in Syria

At first, the US did not intervene in Syria because the country has already faced enough disaster and taken on enough economic debt after fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Political leaders and the world saw that hundreds of thousands of people suffered under the rule of current President Bashir al-Assad as he apparently used chemical weapons on his own people to quell uprisings and protests against his rule. As a clear violation of the code of Human Rights designated by the U.N., Obama nearly called in limited airstrikes into the country in order to prevent this mass murder of civilians by their own government. After finding himself in a hole against the world, Assad has agreed to open up his country for inspection and destruction of any found chemical weapons. He has denied using the weapons or authorizing such force at any point, so the US must take every precaution not to step on the toes of leaders of countries abroad for political purposes. (Eland 2013) But what is surprising is although no one can directly link the use of chemical weapons to a command made by Assad to use them, there has to be something done in order to protect these people, such as the use of a destructive unit to abolish their chemical weapons. (Deutsch & Alexander 2013) If these attacks continue, there must be an end to the killing, or we could see a remake of the Rwanda genocide, a brutal mass murder of half a country’s population.

 

Eland, I. (2013, Sep 4). The US Will Regret Intervention in Syria. Retrieved from http://original.antiwar.com/eland/2013/09/03/the-u-s-will-regret-intervention-in-syria/

Deutsch, A., & Alexander, D. (2013, October 10). U.S. suggests destruction unit for Syria’s chemical weapons. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/10/us-syria-crisis-chemical-idUSBRE9990IB20131010

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Government Shutdown

While reading through several articles, there was an overall agreement by most writers that the government shutdown can be blamed on the rivalry between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. According to sources, Republicans have tied the spending bill, which appropriates finances for the US government to operate, to the affordable healthcare act, also known as AMA but very well known as Obamacare. Because of the debate over Obamacare and tying these two pieces of legislation together, the government has shut down because it has passed the deadline while members of Congress still continue to debate over this piece of legislation. With Obamacare, most news sources, all biased in some fashion towards these ideas of what Obamacare actually is, there exists a new, public form of health insurance that is for everyone to sign up. Some of these implications of what will happen to most individuals under Obamacare is not clear, especially in its practical implications of allowing sicker, older people to be paying similar health insurance rates to healthier, younger people. But one thing is for certain: the opening of health insurance to the public, thereby removing the privatization of current health insurance, is an extremely liberal idea to most Republicans. The party will not concede allowing the government to participate in what they claim is a “socialist” idea, and the tying of Obamacare to the spending bill was done by the Tea Party to get what was essentially passed, revoked. 

Obamacare, whether it poses a threat to my current health insurance situation or helps it, seems like it means a whole lot of good for the rest of the country. For Republicans to tie this in and fight over it by holding the country hostage in a government shutdown is extremely selfish for those politicians involved. Pass the bill without any Obamacare provisions and work on that later. Don’t use a government spending bill to get a political agenda through please.

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Actuarial Science

Promislow, S. (2010). Fundamentals of Actuarial Mathematics. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Jacoby, O. (1970) Excerpts from Diary of a Young Actuary. The Actuary, Society of Actuaries, Vol 4(Issue 2), Page 8

Walsh, M. (2013, September 25) Detroit Spent Billions Extra on Pensions. The New York Times

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