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Recent View from the Prairie Articles

June 2024

Four Lessons from Good Governments

Smooth running business in clean modern buildings. The image of success is what we want. And then, we look at the mess in City Hall. "Can't government run like a business?" is a common cry. Often, when people will say that they wish government would work like a business, what they really mean is that they want the government to be as successful as the best businesses are. What if there is something that businesses could learn from good governments? There are four lessons businesses can learn: to not let CEOs be kings, have a board to kill ideas, spread power around, and accept community judgement.

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Gold Rush Lawlessness

In the old west gold rush, many acted as if there were no laws and they could grab as much as they could. Mining claims were violated. People got into fights over where claim boundaries were. A "claim jumper" could get swift and harsh judgement. Today, data to train AI systems is the modern gold. People are acting like they are in a gold rush and that there are no boundaries. People are taking your data and photos without paying you.

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May 2024

One Mistake Away from Disaster

Just as many families are one mistake away from homelessness, many companies are one mistake away from bankruptcy. The more challenging the environment, the more likely that companies will make that fatal mistake. It is vital to identify mistakes as quickly as possible. We need to learn from both success and failure. The future will not look like the past. It may rhyme, but not repeat.

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Imbalance of Power

Ever since the first cities were built, there have been imbalances of power and knowledge. No matter how much a culture wants to have equality, inequality will develop. And there will always be those who take advantage of any imbalance of knowledge. The only long-term solution is to spread knowledge and have multiple ways to verify knowledge.

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April 2024

Chat AI isn't the Answer

Chat AI is solving the wrong problem. While there is a lot of hype about AI, we have yet to see the AI that will have the most impact. The current AI tools are only increasing the productivity of creative folks. The AI that will have the impact is the one that transforms how we do business. It will be the AI that changes how CEOs operate that will change our world.

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The Speed of Change

For thousands of years, humans lived by the cycle of the seasons, planting in the spring, harvesting in the fall, and change happened slowly. Many want to continue to have slow change. But complex societies can change rapidly. We need resilience to cope with rapid change.

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March 2024

The Illusion of Control

We all want control. We want control over our work environments, our home life, and even our emotions. The reality is that none of those can be controlled. We want the illusion of control even when we don't have it. Over and over again, people strive to project that they have everything under control when they really don't. Things go better when we give up the illusion of control and live in the scary dynamic world.

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Professionals Still Needed

There are many new tools for developing words, images, and computer software. Many people have tried to use them to replace professional work. Lots of time, that is enough. But many times, professionals are still needed. Professionals can bring quality control and process control to create the desired results.

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February 2024

Systems Are Unfair

"It's not fair!", cries the child and the child is right. No matter how well we design a system, that system will be unfair. We will have systemic unfairness no matter what we do including systemic racism, systemic sexism, and systemic agism. The important thing is finding ways to mitigate the unfairness, offer ways to go around the system, and allow for mercy in judgement. The worst thing we can do is to make the system absolute and require "mandatory sentences", require only test scores, or require skin colors. Any "unfairness" is also an opportunity for the savvy entrepreneur.

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Bring Clarity

The most important thing a leader can do is to bring clarity to a situation. Life in naturally complex and people get overwhelmed with the complexity. People also get lost when they lack information about what is really happening to them. This is why someone who gives simple answers can lead them. Unfortunately, most simple answers are wrong. Clarity is not about giving simple answers. Because we can't know everything, we can give clarity based on what we know and our own values while always being open to learning something that will change that clarity.

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January 2024

Buzz about Artificial Intelligence

There is a lot of buzz around Artificial Intelligence. There are multiple platforms available. There are versions that will let you ask all sorts of questions or give it a lot of prompts to write text or code according to what you want. But AI is only as good as the average of data it was trained on. That means that those chat AI systems are "average systems" not "expert systems." AI expands people's capabilities. It does not replace people when you need an expert. AI is best used in combination with a trained human. As a society, we desperately need to learn how to identify when AI has generated political ads or other creative works so that we don't believe them.

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The "Coding Revolution" is Over

For several years, politicians and educators have been pushing coding training. That is no longer a viable route to income. The AI revolution is making most of those coders obsolete. Many of the people now graduating from coding camps will find themselves on the streets unemployed. We need people who can think.

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