Island Lembongan and Leatherjackets

Flat Tires and Slow Boats

Lembongan to BaliIt was a decade ago and a half ago. I remember the excitement I felt as I began to architect what I believed to be the best life possible. I was going to study computer networking and databases…yes, for real!

In my mind this would eventually lead me to a position where I could work from anywhere in the world. Of course that in turn led me to see myself on a beach in the tropics holding down the cyber-fort with my laptop.

My first position in corporate America was with a law firm for whom any chance of working remotely were quickly dashed. Next up was a consulting company. Working from a remote location was standard practice however being outside the continental US borders was not.

Kansas, no problem, Milwaukee, good as gold.

I left the consulting firm and started a travel company and a blog. My vision finally came…

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Artificial intelligence is real now and it’s just getting started


Artificial intelligence is already very real. Not conscious machines, omnipotent machines or even reasoning machines (yet), but statistical machines that automate and increasingly can outperform humans at certain pattern-recognition tasks. Computer vision, language understanding, anomaly detection and other fields have made immense advances in the past few years.

All this work will be the stepping stones for future AI systems that, decades from now, might perform feats we’ve only imagined computers could perform. There are brain-inspired neurosynaptic microchips under development, and quantum artificial intelligence might only be a decade away. Some experts predict general artificial intelligence — perhaps even artificial superintelligence — will happen easily within this century.

The effects that AI is having and will have on business, the economy and, most importantly, humanity certainly merit consideration. It’s a discussion we’ll have at our Structure Data conference, which takes place March 18 and 19 in New…

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Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why?


As the world struggled to understand the violence in Paris, where 12 cartoonists and other staff at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by Islamic extremists, media outlets were faced with a challenge: Should they publish the offensive images that may have helped trigger that violence? What’s interesting is that almost all of those who chose to publish them were online-media outlets, and almost all of those who refrained were traditional players.

Why was there such a clear divide between online and offline entities in the way they responded to the incident? Is it because digital media is seen as more of a lawless frontier, or because print and TV are seen as more permanent and therefore more risky? Or is it because digital-media outlets feel more compelled to protect freedom of speech because they feel more vulnerable than mainstream outlets? Or was it just for traffic?


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Wasting away in Mañanaville

5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months


Silk’s Post #102 — Let me ask you a question: have you ever procrastinated? No? Really? Not even once? Okay, you’re dismissed. The rest of you should read on.

Some background: this is my last post before the 5writers get together for our mini-retreat in Vancouver later this week. It has been on the calendar for more than two months. One of the key things on our agenda is reviewing synopses for our five books in progress, and we all agreed to have these ready for presentation and discussion.

A confession: I’m still working on my synopsis with less than three days left to finish it. Did I say “still working” on it? I meant “just starting to work” on it. I will charitably assume that all the other four writers are totally ready. Actually, I know better. We’re all in the same boat.

So why is it so difficult to knuckle down…

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