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.