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Recent View from the Prairie Articles

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


December 2023

Computer Systems will Fail

A lot of people are putting their trust in the new AI systems. In reality, all that we can be confident in is that eventually these systems will fail. The failure point is not in the systems themselves, but in the people. Users will always push systems past their safety points. People will always misuse tools. Human beings will make systems fail. No matter how good a computer system is, humans will use that computer system in ways that it was not intended for.


Principles over personalities

A number of organizations operate on personalities. Each organization certainly has a style which some will call a personality. But the issue is when personalities determine direction for an organization instead of asking what is the right thing. Personalities are more likely to cause problems than solve the real issues. Personality driven organizations often get filled with "yes men" who protect that personality from reality. Well run businesses operate on principles.


November 2023

The Aura of Truth

A businessman signs papers stating that his property is worth far more than it really is. Because he confidently asserts that his ideas of worth are reality some people actually believe him. A TV commentator pushes his own ideas and as long as he acts confident, people take his word. We have a problem with truth. Assertiveness and confidence are no longer enough to be true. For too long, authorities have assumed that their confidence was sufficient to have them be believed. Today, we need more ways to test for truth. Each time that we have a new technology that cuts the cost of publishing, it has required new ways to test for truth. The new AI tools are spitting out tons of falsehoods, but doing it in language that makes it sound as if it were truth.


Do we really want to be seen?

A businessman put his name on his company and on many of the buildings used by that company. Now, the company is at risk and he might lose control of his company and his name. There are risks to putting our names or our faces as the public image of the company. When we want to move on, we might lose control of the use of our name or face.


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