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Wednesday, December 21, 2022


The following can be added to the ending of the heading of this post:  "to emails, letters, phone calls, job applications, charitable inquiries, sponsorship support and anything else you can think of."

As you can see from the above, the title to this post would have been way too long and meandering but I am sure you get the point.

The question is: why do so many businesses who spend thousands if not millions of dollars on advertising what great companies they are, don't have corporate policies on responding to correspondence? 

Some companies take great pride in replying to all inquiries regardless of the reason for the inquiry (job application, business inquiry, sales call, etc) within 48 hours. A majority of businesses do not. Why don't they? Because they do not care! It's as simple as that. They either consider themselves to be too big to fail or feel they have little in the way of competition for their products or services so don't really care if they alienate some people or, they work on the principle; lose a client or customer today, find another one tomorrow. 

What these companies fail to recognize is that every email they fail to respond to, every letter they ignore, every phone message they never return is from a prospective customer or client. I personally make it a policy never to shop or buy from a company that does not respond to correspondence. Not because I feel that my boycott will make a difference to the company bottom line, but because I am refusing to support an arrogant company with no respect for the general public. 

If during a conversation at a party or a backyard barbeque and the name of a company comes up that I boycott, I make no bones about the reason I do not buy from them or use their services. I work on the principle that if one person tells five people then each of those five people will tell five people and so on and eventually it will make a difference.

There is no reason for a business not to respond to correspondence. We live in the most connected age in the history of the world with AI becoming more of a factor in everyday business operations so really, there is no excuse. The worst culprits are big business. These companies can afford to have a department whose sole purpose is to respond to communications. I'm not talking about the retention department. This is an entirely different matter. I am talking about a department to communicate with correspondents be they a job seeker waiting hear on an application, an existing customer making an inquiry or a complaint or an organization seeking sponsorship to name just a few. The official term is Customer Communication Management or CCM. Let's call it the Correspondence Liaison Department. This department's job is to make sure all non-personalized communications are responded to and to liaison with the particular department to where the query is directed and come up with a satisfactory response for the person behind the communication.

Maintaining high standards in responding to incoming communications to your business is a sign of professionalism. Poorly structured and untimely responses or ignoring some communication altogether whether via email or postal mail makes customers feel underappreciated and undervalued and can result in lost business. 

Consequently, having a correspondence etiquette policy for responding to mail and email is a key component of communications strategy for any business, small or large.

Saturday, October 8, 2022


  1. Do one thing perfectly, not 10 things poorly. 
  1. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success.
  1. Always be ready to pitch your business. State your mission, service and goals in a clear and concise manner. Fit the pitch to the person. Less is always more.
  1. Surround yourself with advisors and mentors who will nurture you to become a better leader and businessman. 
  1. Your wallet is your company's life-blood. Practice and perfect the art of being frugal.
  1. Never jump right into a new business without any thought or planning, but don't spend months or years waiting to execute.
  1. Find ways to prove your business model on a shoestring budget.
  1. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession.
  1. Know when it's time to walk away. If your idea doesn't pan out, reflect on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made.
  1. Failure is not inevitable. A true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity.

Friday, September 30, 2022

The Humorous Side of Artificial Intelligence

Humor is what makes humans special. When people try to teach machines humor, the results are at times laughable but not in the intended way. 

What makes humans laugh? Some occasions may be caused by contrary emotional states. Embarrassment, apology or confusion can cause nervous or courtesy laughter. Humans will laugh at jokes or will laugh at a play on words for instance, even though they may be very subtle. Everyone has a different sense of humor. What is funny to one person will go over the head of another. Laughter in some ways, is like human language and what may be hilariously funny in Japan will go over like a lead balloon in France.

Laughter bonds humans through humor. However, despite its prominence in our daily lives, there is little research on how and why we laugh.The study of humor and laughter and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body is called gelotology. The question as it relates to artificial intelligence is; can a sense of humor be taught  to machines?

Humor is a hidden language that we all speak but it is not a learned group reaction. It is more an instinctive behavior programmed by our genes and the societies we live in.  

Tristan Miller, a computer scientist and linguist at Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany says: “Creative language — and humour in particular — is one of the hardest areas for computational intelligence to grasp." 

Miller has analyzed more than 10,000 puns and called the experience torture. “It’s because it relies so much on real-world knowledge — background knowledge and commonsense knowledge. A computer doesn’t have these real-world experiences to call on. Up until recently, a robot or a computer could only know what it was told and could only draw from that knowledge.”

Great strides have been taken in trial and error learning in the science of artificial intelligence, this being one of the fundamental learning strategies employed by humans and animals. It is increasingly being used to teach intelligent machines boosting the flow of ideas between biologists and computer scientists. More studies in the trial and error approach could solve mysteries in animal and human cognition and help develop powerful new algorithms and therefore moving closer to AI being created with an ability to learn humor.

However, as humor is still somewhat  of a mystery in itself, can the trial and error approach be applied to developing humor in AI? Some scientists seem to think so. The following is a headline from Wired.com.  https://www.wired.com/story/comedian-machine-ai-learning-puns/?verso=true

The Comedian Is in the Machine. AI Is Now Learning Puns!
A researcher at Stanford University has created a pun generator that came up with the following groaner, all on it's own. 

"Why did the Greyhound stop? To get a hare cut". 

Her aim is to build AI that is natural and fun to talk to and that can crack jokes or compose a poem or even tell a compelling story. "But getting there," she says. "Runs up against the limits of how AI typically learns." 

Of course, a very common saying is a pun is the lowest form of humor but a machine has to start somewhere. Will AI eventually replace the Ricky Gervais's and Steven Colbert's of the world? Who is to say. 

"People have had some success in defining what would constitute humor," says Abhijit Thatte , Assistant Vice President of Technology and Practice Leader for Artificial Intelligence at Aricent, a global design and engineering firm. "But it has not been been codified yet."

As even full-time stand-up comics would admit, there is no magic formula to produce the perfect joke. Much of what makes us laugh depends on subtle factors such as context or body language. "Sometimes even we humans don't know why a joke is funny," says Thatte.

When it comes to an individual's funny bone, there has to be a really deep understanding of the world in which a person lives, how things work, how their society works and mostly how people in their society work. Humor is indicative of something that is really human and is also intelligent but in it's truly human form, currently outside the abilities of artificial intelligence.


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Is Artificial Intelligence The Next Step in Human Evolution?

What is Artificial Intelligence or AI? Very simply, AI is intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Artificial intelligence can be classified as three different types of systems; 

Analytical AI only has characteristics consistent with cognitive intelligence such as thinking, reasoning or remembering using learning based on past experience to inform future decisions. 

Human-inspired AI has elements of cognitive and emotional intelligence and an understanding of human emotions and is used in conjunction with decision making.

Humanized artificial intelligence:
Humanized AI shows characteristics of all types of competencies (i.e., cognitive, emotional, and social intelligence) and is able to be self-conscious and is self-aware in interactions with others.

There are many areas of business, government and human entertainment that are well suited to the use of AI including but not limited to the following: 

  • Agriculture
  • Aviation
  • Education
  • Computer Science
  • Finance
  • Medical Care
  • Government
  • Heavy Industry
  • Mining
This list will continue to expand as  new generations of computers emerge and as the learning curve among the AI scientific community begins to flatten out. 

The science has not been around for that long. A handful of scientists back in the 1950's from a variety of fields (mathematics, psychology, engineering, economics and political science) began to discuss the possibility of creating an artificial brain. In 1956, the field of artificial intelligence research was then founded as an academic discipline.

There are a number of eminent scientists credited with founding of artificial intelligence science, foremost among them was Alan Turing, a young British mathematician who explored the mathematical possibility of artificial intelligence. Turing suggested that if humans could use available information as well as reason in order to solve problems and make decisions, why couldn't machines do the same thing? This was the logical framework of his 1950 paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence in which he discussed how to build intelligent machines and how to test their intelligence.

However, before Turing could move further in this new science, computers had to change dramatically. They were at that time, essentially very smart calculating machines and while they could execute commands, they had no means of storing them. Some years later computer scientist and cognitive psychologist Allen Newell, political scientist, economist and sociologist Herbert A. Simon and systems programmer John Clifford Shaw all working at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, developed the Logic Theorist Offsite Link, the first program deliberately engineered to mimic the problem solving skills of a human being. 

They decided to write a program that could prove theorems in the propositional calculus like those in Principia Mathematica by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics written in 1910, 1912, and 1913. The first application of AI used in a practical manner was created by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1965 who developed ELIZA, an interactive program that carried on a dialogue in the English language on any topic. Weizenbaum, who wanted to demonstrate the superficiality of communication between man and machine, was surprised by the number of people who attributed human-like feelings to the computer program.

Artificial intelligence is becoming very good at many “human” jobs such as diagnosing disease, translating languages and providing customer service and as AI continues to evolve, there are reasonable fears among many people that artificial intelligence will ultimately replace humans in many jobs and occupations in industry and in the economy at large. 

Some AI scientists feel that is not an inevitable or even most likely outcome. While AI will radically alter how work gets done and who does it, the technology’s larger impact will be in complementing and augmenting human capabilities, not replacing them. Many developers of AI feel that with collaborative intelligence, humans and AI can actively enhance each other’s complementary strengths. What comes naturally to people such as humor is difficult for machines, and what is straightforward for machines such as analyzing terabytes of data very quickly is out of reach of the human brain. In our rapidly evolving world, regardless of whether it is business, education, industry, space exploration, quantum physics or medicine, all are going to require both kinds of capabilities.

The unanswered question at this point is; at some point in the future, will there be a emergence of AI and the human intelligence, therefore the next evolving step of the homo sapiens species and it's unique brain? To some, the answer is an unequivocal yes. 

At this stage of human evolution, there will be no turning back and the human race will be entering either a brave new world of human / machine collaboration or a world where humans evolve into machines. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


Executives, entrepreneurs and luminaries committed to advancing a transformation of the working world are redefining what it means to be a successful company in the 21st century.

Convening the exchange of leading practices, deepening research and recognizing those on the leading edge of forward thinking transformation, futurists aim to catalyze a global shift toward humanity in business, inspiring and enabling organizations to cultivate purpose-rich cultures that better serve their employees, customers and the world.

Its original research and year-round events, including at global forums such as the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and the World Economic Forum, are bringing together a diverse mix of business leaders, academics, scientists, entrepreneurs and storytellers to advance the science and execution of purpose in business.

More and more, customers are making their buying decisions based on an organization's stated aims and more millennial's are choosing their employer based on its purpose. Now that companies are armed with the impetus and the business case to transform around purpose, the discussion needs to shift from ‘why’ to ‘how.’ And this is where forward thinking planning and strategies comes into play. The old quote by Mark Twain: "To stand still is to fall behind",  is more relevant today than it has ever been before.