The 1982 Disney movie, Tron, contains a valuable lesson on the power of the digital systems user today.
In the movie, released 40 years before ChatGPT, the hero is transferred bodily into a computer system under the control of an evil AI. Because he’s the good guy, he tries to lead a revolt, mostly in vain. But just when things look bleakest, he discovers that he has “user power.” Simply by willing it, he can make magical things happen in this alternate universe. Because, under the digital skin, he’s a human being who uses computer systems, not the other way around.Read more
I wrote my last post, “Why Are We Falling Apart?” in response to a heartfelt editorial by David Brooks of The New York Times. Confronting today’s epidemic of inhumane behavior in America – reckless driving, unrest in schools, fights on airliners, hate crimes and murders – he asked, “What the hell is going on?” His plaintive and honest answer was “I don’t know.”
In my post, I explained why I thought we have been falling apart – not just recently but gradually for the past 40 years, and not just in the United States but in fellow industrialized nations around the world.
But understanding reasons is only gets us so far. What matters is what we can do about it.Read more
When I first saw the Grand Canyon many years ago, I asked myself the question that every visitor asks. How did this great big, amazingly beautiful hole in the ground get here?
The answer is a story that defies intuition. The Colorado River snakes through the region and lies now at the bottom of the immense canyon. Like all rivers, it carries small bits of stone that chip away at the riversides and river bottom, one tiny spec at a time. Keep that up for a few centuries, and the river slowly deepens its channel.Read more
The advancements in artificial intelligence of the past few years have been mind-blowing. They have given rise to much research and analysis about the future of work. They have also given rise to a lot of nonsense. The trick is to figure out which is which.
On one side of the argument are respected academics and global consulting organizations. In their tremendous book, Race Against the Machine, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson offered dire predictions of the increasing power of AI and the erosion of jobs it will bring. Their advice? Don’t fight it – instead, figure out how to work with technology change to get the greatest benefit as individuals and as a society. There have been dire predictions about how big job losses will be, but the best-informed numbers come from the McKinsey Global Institute. They predict that automation will eliminate only 5% of today’s jobs. But it will also have an impact on 60% of total jobs. On average, workers in those fields spend one-third of their time doing routine work, and routine labor is the easiest to automate. So, no matter what you do for a living, it would be wise to buckle your seat belt.Read more
Virtual reality (VR) is the future. The biggest tech businesses in the world say so. Facebook is building the metaverse where you will spend your days with a headset strapped over your eyes and sensors in your clothing, interacting with people and things who aren’t really there. Apple is reported to be planning introduction of a “face computer” in the next year or so – but of course, they were also rumored to have a plan to manufacture cars at one point, so we’ll see.
To these thrilling tech developments, I have just one thing to say. Virtual reality is dumb. Not bad, not destructive – just dumb.Read more
US President Biden has proposed a $109 billion, 10-year American Families Plan that seeks to build an economy that does more for working people and less for people who live on the returns from their investments. One part of the plan would fund free 2-year community college tuition for all students. In response, a recent article in The New York Times sets out to answer the question, “Does Free College Work?”
It’s a very American question, by the way, because our friends in Europe and other regions have been receiving largely free higher education for decades. Setting that aside, the article is worth reading for two reasons.Read more
In this special episode of The Intelligent Community, ICF Co-Founder Robert Bell speaks with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger about leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Massive bandwidth. Super speed (also known as low latency). Did I mention massive bandwidth and super speed? You will be able to download and watch three movies at once. Your grades will improve, you will get the promotion you want, lose weight and become an Instagram star.
If only it were so.
When it comes to 5G hype, we all need a filter. An organization called the World Teleport Association (WTA) recently published a report that offers one. WTA is an industry trade group for commercial providers of satellite communications, and the report aims to advise these companies on realistic opportunities in the new technology. But many of its conclusions are equally useful to community leaders seeking better broadband solutions for their people and employers. Here is my summary.Read more
For all the damage, frustration and sorrow that COVID19 has brought us, it has also taught us lessons we needed to learn.
Some are personal. It turns out that my health depends on your health. If you refuse to wear a mask, you are expressing – not your independence – but a willingness to infect me.
Some are political. It turns out that, when we allow working people to live in poverty with no medical insurance, we create reservoirs of infection that keep blazing up like wildfires – or perhaps the avenging fires of a just God – to engulf us.Read more
As a magic word, it puts “Shazam!” to shame.
Zoom. It is the only most visible of the many powerful broadband applications that are helping us get through COVID19. It stands for the transformation of broadband, almost overnight, from “nice to have” into “essential infrastructure,” as the pandemic spreads across nations and industries and keeps forcing changes in the way we live.Read more