Building our Better Angels – Or Not…

Over the last year, it seemed like Artificial Intelligence was on quite a run and that days of complacently serving our robot overlords in a kind of de-natured paradise were right around the corner. Self-driving cars were in the advanced stages of development and not by the tweedy academics but by giants of industry and not the old industry, either. These happy engineers were the new guys who had already changed our lives in ways both big and small through the triplet miracles of design, technology and marketing. The Internet of Things had its own acronym (IoT) in the mass media and my house was getting smarter by the nano-second. Oh swoony singularity.

Well, maybe not so much. Perhaps the first hint was a little blurb that a Google car got a ticket. Seems like it was driving too slow for conditions and causing a bit of traffic jam. Not a big deal. Perhaps just a case of the new ethics exposing the depravity of the old.

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It’s an Art and a Science: Or We’re Not in the Fourth Grade Anymore

Art-Sci“Well, it’s as much an art as a science.” You’ve said it. I’ve said it. We’ve all said it at one time or another, usually to deflect some misguided wish for certainty, simplicity, or immediacy. Beyond the verbal hand-waving, however, there is a deeper truth. The professions we choose are, ultimately, all human endeavors and as such come with the all the mystery and ambiguity of human instincts, emotions, visions and even intellect. The whole truth is the “Art and Science” phrase is said as much to comfort ourselves in what we don’t know or completely understand as it is to suggest an elevated status conferred by access to some secret wisdom. Continue reading