Tech & Work

Career Management: News and random thoughts

Toni Bowers touches on some random bits from the web.

I was just popping around the web and came across a couple of random pieces of news that I thought you might find interesting for a Friday read.

First, in a piece about corporate whistle-blowing, someone said that one of the main reasons people are reluctant to blow the whistle on illegal or improper work practices is not just fear of reprisal but "fear of futility." That's my new favorite term. I think fear of futility is what keeps a lot of people from doing stuff in their companies, like suggesting new ideas or pushing for innovation. People can only take so many "But that's not how we've always done it" before their better sense tells them to just stop. I hope you IT leaders out there don't infuse your workplaces with a fear of futility.

Second, a tech worker at Farm Bureau Financial Services in West Des Moines, Iowa, was fired after surveillance cameras allegedly caught him urinating on office chairs belonging to female coworkers he found attractive. Maybe it's just me, but I think those women might have preferred flowers. The article I read said that this guy's actions "caused nearly $5,000 in damage to the chairs." To me, that implies that they spent $5,000 trying to fix the chairs after the fact. I hope and pray with every part of me that they actually just went ahead and replaced them.

Third, an interesting piece on the BBC News Technology site ponders whether computers will ever have artificial intelligence. The article references Watson (the computer that beat a human at Jeopardy) and Deep Blue (the supercomputer that beat the reigning world chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1999). Some computers are even passing the Turing Test, named after Alan Turing who asked if you were talking online with a person and a computer, could you distinguish which was the computer? The newest test is whether computers can overcome the biggest challenge for AI--to match the human ability to process visual information. Or, apparently, to urinate on office chairs.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.


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Several years back I read an article that described the development of a bio-chip and the processing power that such a device would have. Couple that with the AI of a lunar or Mars robot probe which reportedly has the intelligence of a 6 year old and you have the beginnings of a whole new socialistic endeavor. . . that of robot rights. When part of your daily operation of your AI centered PC some bio-substance for nourishment along with the electricity to power it, you take on a far larger perspective of responsibility. Such as, if you forget to "feed" your PC and it starves to death, would you be liable for criminal charges for animal cruelty, neglect, or murder. After all the PC would have all the traits and characteristics of a sentient life form and I bet when the time comes, there will be all sorts of activists rushing to the aid of our poor, mistreated, and abused AI computers . . . there may even be labor laws governing how these intelligent entities can be used which is already the case in Japanese industry where Japanese manufacturers are forced to enroll their production robots into the labor union . . . a meaningful legal precedent on which to base the rights of robots as independent entities. Just a thought about a possible future of IT.


This seems to be the trend in many areas. A term I use when certain people speak is "Encriptive Language"...typical responses, that is not what I meant, you misunderstood. I have to pin them down, please provide the who, what, where, and when. Response, I will get back to you. Many employees feel this if at the very least they receive some type of validation...many good ideas, this is where good leadership comes cultivate the empower people.

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