All posts by Independent Society

Rumsfeld’s Known Unknowns

Rumsfeld’s Known Unknowns is a concept made popular by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

It is part of a broader theory about the influence knowledge has on strategic thinking.

It first came to the public’s attention when Donald Rumsfeld used it during a Department of Defense news briefing on February 12, 2002, to answer a reporter’s question about the administration’s failure to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Here is the answer how it was given by Donald Rumsfeld himself:

There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Years later, in Errol Morris’ documentary The Unknown Known, and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Rumsfeld went on to explain that the third category, the unknown unknowns…

…are the ones that get you.

For the sake of simplicity, I am renaming what Wikipedia calls “There are known knowns” into Rumsfeld’s Known Unknowns Theory.

The aim of this article is to expand the theory and to present a different conclusion.

Let’s first revisit the elements of Rumsfeld’s Known Unknowns theory.

The elements are as follows:

Known Knowns

Known knowns are things we know that we know.

A person familiar with basic arithmetic knows that 2 + 2 equals 4.

The second element is:

Known Unknowns

Known unknowns are things we know that we do not know.

When asked for the square root of infinity, a person can reasonably assume this is something they don’t know.

The third element is:

Unknown Unknowns

Unknown unknowns are things we don’t know that we don’t know.

This third category is where things get tricky.

Unknown unknowns can only be categorized as such for as long as the person is unaware what it is he or she is supposed to know but does not know. The moment the what is revealed to the person, it would inevitably fall under one of the two categories above.

This category is better described simply as Unknowns.

Unknowns are relevant only if they impact the outcome of a decision adversely. Taking our first example, if someone hands you a piece of paper with 2 + 2 written on it and asks you for the answer you would answer 4. But what if they tell you your answer is incorrect and that they forgot to hand you the rest of the piece of paper which completes the operation to read 2 + 2 x 3 = ?

You did not know x 3 was part of the problem. You gave the wrong answer only because you were asked the wrong question.

But what if you were asked the right question and still gave the wrong answer? More on that later.

Strictly from a logic stand point, this category does not reflect adversely on the person giving the answer.

This is where I find it necessary to expand the theory unto a fourth and most critical category.

The fourth new category is:

Unknown Knowns

Unknown knowns are those things we think we know but we actually don’t know.

This is the most dangerous category!

The information is still unknown but the person thinks he or she knows it.

This one is a bit harder to handle because the responsibility for an erroneous outcome falls on the person who made the decision.

When you are certain 2 + 2 is 5 and base your calculations on that you will get an erroneous outcome.

Conclusion

In strategic thinking:

Known Knowns yield correct outcomes.

Known Unknowns should not yield any outcome.

Unknown Unknowns cannot yield any outcome.

Unknown Knowns always yield incorrect outcome.

How To Play avi Video Files On Any Roku Player FREE!

Can my Roku player play .avi video files?

The answer is no… but there is a very easy and free workaround!

Unfortunately, Google is not of very much help on this one. The first result is an overpriced video converter. Don’t fall for it!

Do I need to convert my video files from .avi to mp4?

Yes and no. All you have to do is change the container (mux) the file from .avi to mp4! This takes only a few seconds and you don’t have to go through the lengthy conversion process that can take up to an hour for a feature length movie.

Enough already, how do I get this done!

Download and install MP4Box

Here’s the link: https://gpac.wp.mines-telecom.fr/mp4box/

If the link is broken just search Google for it.

Then download and install My MP4Box GUI

Here is the link: http://www.videohelp.com/software/My-MP4Box-GUI

If the link is broken just search Google for it.

Once your system is ready to get the job done:

Open My MP4Box GUI

play avi roku player free all any convert mp4 mux container

The default tab is Mux, stay on it.

Click Add.

play avi roku player free all any convert mp4 mux container

Select the .avi video file (movie, TV show, or what have you).

Once the video is loaded click the Mux button.

play avi roku player free all any convert mp4 mux container

The status bar at the bottom which used to read Ready will do its thing and voila!

You will find a mp4 version of your avi file in the same directory!

Load the mp4 into a USB flash drive and head over to your Roku.

NOTE: Make sure your Roku has the free Roku media player channel on it.

Roku Medial Player Channel play avi roku player free all any convert mp4 mux container

This one: https://channelstore.roku.com/details/2213/roku-media-player

And there you have it. My very specific Christmas gift to my readers who happen to own a Roku player.

In case you don’t own one, or want to upgrade to a better one, you can use the Amazon link below to support my website. Cheers!

Click here to visit Amazon and support this website. Thank you!

I Want To Be A Movie Star

My friend Ugo once told me a story. It was 1961, the year he turned eighteen. It was a time when getting out of Argentina wasn’t easy, especially for a kid prone to getting into trouble with the law. Ugo never told me exactly how his obsession with Rudolph Valentino had begun. I suspect it was because Valentino was the only man his mother ever allowed herself to admire. She had raised him on her own with the dignity of a catholic widow, somber and always wearing black. Remarrying was never an option so she enlisted the local priest to impart a strict education to her son. Ugo would have none of it and as soon as he was out of their sight, he would get into all sorts of mischief. His obsession with “the movies” was his ticket out of a dead-end job or a life behind bars. For as much as she hated to see him go, the fear of what could happen if he had stayed was enough to make sure he was given a chance. With the help of a family friend, Ugo was able to set-up a meeting at the American Embassy to be considered for a visa. Back in those days, coming to the U.S. from South America was no easy task. Every applicant had to undergo a thorough moral assessment, answer several questions, and prove they had the financial means to cover the costs of the trip. People spent months preparing for their meetings and gathering the necessary documentation in the hopes of being granted passage to the promised land. If your application was denied, it could take months, sometimes years, before you’d be allowed to try again. Ugo showed up late, hungover, and clueless. The interviewer was the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina himself. Without exchanging pleasantries, the Ambassador began the screening process. Ugo failed to produce any of the required documentation and couldn’t answer any of the questions. Before ending the interview and sending the applicant on his way, the Ambassador asked one last question, and that was the one question Ugo was certain he knew the answer to.
“Why do you want to go to America?”
Ugo’s eyes lit up, his mouth widened into the beautiful smile only a dreamer has and he answered:
“I want to be a movie star!”
The Ambassador remained silent for a long time. He sat there looking at a young man with big dreams and very little sense. In a way, that was how the American dream had began a few centuries ago. That day Ugo was granted a green card and he has been living in Hollywood ever since.

A Walk Around Hollywood (35mm)

After living in the digital world of images for a long time, I figured it was about time to let film do the talking. Recently my brother-in-law offered to lend me his 35mm film camera. He brought it over and I let it sit on my desk for a few weeks. It looked old and out of place next to my slick flat panel monitor. Where does one even buy film anymore? Turns out Amazon has got us amateurs covered. I kept it on the cheap side, 4 rolls for $10.99 (Fujifilm 1014258 Superia X-TRA 400 35mm Film). Once the film arrived, I actually had to go on YouTube to learn how to load a film camera. It doesn’t get more beginner than that. The camera had a very easy learning curve and despite never having shot film before, I have been looking through lenses for the past fifteen years so thing became clear fast. Once I got the hang of it, I took it for a walk around Hollywood. Here’s what came out of the camera:

Unlike most of the images I have shot thus far with my DSLR, these are unaltered, unedited and un-cropped. I took the 4 rolls to a lab down the street (this place), paid $56 and hoped for the best.

Continue reading A Walk Around Hollywood (35mm)

What I Believe in by E. M. Forster

I believe in aristocracy, though — if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but power to endure, and they can take a joke.

by E. M. Forster

I often read this quote to friends. Somehow it captures an important quality in all people of goodwill. It seemed only appropriate I would share it right here.