Real Intelligence

You have all heard the promises of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and live with the reality of some of this with your smart speakers and with the online help systems at banks, airlines, and retailers.  They work pretty well for most of us and are certainly better than the endless menus of numeric voice jail others use.

However, if you pay careful attention to these, they check to be sure they are on the right path as you use them.  They don’t have the audacity to assume they are offering you what you want and need.

Artificial intelligence attempts to mimic human intelligence.

Let’s take a step back from the brink and consider what we are talking about when we think about this subject.  Here are some definitions from Wikipedia:

A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—”catching on,” “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.

I have to admit that the Amazon Echo is pretty good at this.  It gets it right much more often than it gets it wrong, but even when it gets it wrong it has a gentle humble spirit to it.

This is a far cry from a black box magic system that purports to know what the right message is to a customer who didn’t even ask to be messaged in the first place.  Think about the audacity to suggest something to a customer who never indicated they wanted to hear from you?

Sure, I see Amazon suggesting things to me that align with what I am buying already, but I signed up for that message feed.

What we find does work is when you only offer outbound proactive alerts with the immediate caveat that you just wanted to let someone know there was a significant difference in their use or billing.

You can’t fix stupid!

Isn’t that what you are thinking almost all day long these days?  I don’t care who you think first said it, or what the situation was that prompted it.  You just know it is true because you have tried to do exactly that.  You just can’t fix stupid!

I personally like the attribution to Mark Twain because he wrote so many witty things, but upon checking I found that it is more likely attributed to others.  They all have the same idea though.  These same individuals that you know are wrong will defeat you in your perfectly logical, factually accurate reasoning with experience holding onto ludicrous ideas and ideals.  Nope, when it is convenient for stupidity to persist it does around any ideas or practices, it does!

There is not enough time in the day or room online to even begin to comment on all the reasons we are perfectly correct saying this about this or that.  Everywhere you look these days you see persistent stupidity fully inoculated against reason and facts.  To focus on this is to frustrate yourself much like you were trying to turn back the tides at the shore.

So, stop trying to fix stupid!

We were never called to “try to teach people” anything by arguing with them.  It is literally like trying to teach pigs to sing.  They will never learn and they will resent you trying.  That was a phrase I learned from our dear partner who helped us build our business.

Our EXAMPLE is what may in time do the trick.  Be the one that stands out in a sea of stupidity as the beachhead of love, grace, and inclusiveness that draws people to it. If you are onboard with me on this simple idea, just remember that stupid people know if you are thinking they are stupid … for some reason they are sensitive and smart in realizing that.  I think the secret to all this is to forgive them completely for being that way … which really means to forget just how stupid they are.

Perhaps that is because in some small insignificant way we could be stupid as well?   Nah!  Couldn’t be!

I was lost but now am found

Have you ever noticed things that seem to work out even when the odds are against them?  You pause when the light changes … for no real reason … and someone runs the red light at high speed and you think “wow … they would have hit me and probably sent us all to the hospital!”  My wife and I use the phrase “it just so happened” to explain these “God Winks” as we refer to them.  Well, here is another one that just happened in our life.

It all started on a Friday evening when Susan and I went to grab some drinks and dinner with some friends at Smokerise Country Club. As usual, we sat outside to enjoy the evening air when we got there and one of our friends had heard a bird chirping which proved to be a cockatiel. She offered it her finger and it then hopped on her shoulder and just sat there happy to be with people again.  Clearly this bird had been part of a family and had become lost. If you Google this breed of parrot you will see they are incredibly social and just love to interact with people.

Since she had dogs at home she said she couldn’t bring it home and neither could anyone else there we met at the club, so we did. We at first kept it in a storage container overnight since we couldn’t locate a cage from friends. We had some bird seed for our feeders and put a cup of water in the container for the night.  The next morning I offered it a finger and it quickly hopped onto my shoulder and also looked for every opportunity to have its head and back petted. While we found it to be hilarious to be around, we are not pet people … we travel and work outside the home. So, my first priority was to see if I could locate its rightful home and report it found … without letting anyone know what it looked like so we could avoid scams or someone who just wanted a pet.

So, the first thing I did was to go online to figure out how you post the fact that you have found a pet that clearly belongs to another family. Figuring it was a long shot to find them, I also searched for how you could bring a bird to a shelter … and learned you can’t bring them to a bird dealer because of the risks of the bird bringing in a disease. I of course posted the fact that we had found a bird on my Facebook page but without any pictures or descriptions other than it was a cockatiel.  On the chance the bird was not lost locally, I also found a website for “lost and found” parrots designed specifically to reconnect these family members.  Three days later I get a picture of a bird that someone had lost and it was clearly the bird we had. Go figure … but the story gets even more interesting.

They offered a phone number to connect and I spoke to the mother of the young girl whose bird it was. The bird had escaped last November (10 months ago) and had its wings clipped so it could not fly. They lived in Marietta some 35 miles away.  Oh, if the bird could talk!  Perhaps someone had found it closer to their home and transported it? How many people had entered this bird’s life? After all, how could a bird with its wings clipped fly 35 miles and why to our country club? That is a story we probably will never know completely. What we do know is the bird was lost and now has been found.

She told me that her daughter was despondent and inconsolable after losing the bird. Her friends kept telling her not to lose faith … someone would find her bird and bring it back to her. When I told her I thought we had found her bird I asked her for some more pictures and sure enough it was clearly her bird. Cockatiels are quite varied in their colors and this one was a very unusual grey and white with color splotches.

At that point I shared the picture I took just before calling her where the bird insisted on having its head and backed scratched. That was the same action it took on Friday night. What I found most endearing however was her note back to me that if we had bonded she understood fully why we might want to keep the bird. She was just elated to know her friend was safe and found. There is certainly more to this story we can never fully know, but what we can know is that this bird is a model for how community works successfully in this digital age. For all the bad things we know and read about, I do hope this story is uplifting and encouraging. The bird is now back “home” finally.  The mother called it her “prodigal child.”  Oh if only birds could talk.  But, perhaps the beauty is in the mystery itself since they can’t.

Carbon Capture? Stop the Madness!

Please watch and consider this latest video from the Wall Street Journal:

Coca-Cola’s and Microsoft’s Latest Gamble: A Giant CO2 Vacuum Cleaner

If you start to cringe when you hear the justifications and just how far out of reason this idea is you are at least a critical thinker.

However, please consider WHY a company would do something so uneconomic in the short run?

Is it because they are climate activates and want to help startups prove out technology?  After all, the now ubiquitous LED was once uneconomic and unrealistic. Not at all.

Take another gander at what they are making at this feverish pace … bottled water.  That should be illegal if you are a climate activist!

Virtue signaling at its best … that is what you are watching.