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Grades, And Artificial Intelligence

Dear students, If you ask about your grade, I’ll gladly tell you that you’re doing well...

A Speculation On The Evolution Of Science

“Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all...

Robots, Imagination, And Spirit

Last month in Korea a computer scientist struck up a conversation on the subway. He told me in...

Get Rid Of ‘Innovation Ecosystems’

To say ‘business ecosystem’ or ‘innovation ecosystem’ is to commit the teleological fallacy...

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Fred PhillipsRSS Feed of this column.

After a dozen years as a market research executive, Fred Phillips was professor, dean, and vice provost at a variety of universities in the US, Europe, and South America. He is now Professor at University... Read More »

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How stupid was he?

He shut down the Center for Groundwater Research. I quote him: “You don’t need to grind water. It’s a liquid.”


He closed our renowned Digital Signal Processing program. He was then unable to process, when faculty flashed him a certain digital signal.


Next to go was the knockout mouse lab. He said, “They have some attractive mice, but none that I’d call a real knockout.”

Whenever there’s a task to be done or governance to be exercised, we tend to organize for it in threes. A single power center is unworkable, as it can easily lead to dictatorship. Two is not so good either, as a disagreement can lead to indefinite and unrefereed deadlock. Three gives us “checks and balances,” as all of us were taught in school.  

It’s not just the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches of the US government. Companies developing new products seek balance among the engineering, manufacturing, and marketing departments. Economic development rests on the “triple helix” interaction of the government, academic, and industrial sectors. Corporate governance depends on the triangle of shareholders, boards of directors, and managers.  

A chain saw, sporting all the safety interlocks, might still kill you if you use it carelessly. You’re self-confident and you suffer the usual optimism bias.

Books Small PictureThese tips will help researchers for whom English is a second language, and who work at universities and research institutes where the international publishing culture is still young. 

Facebook traffic and news items tell us a lot of Americans of northern European extraction are anxious and even fearful about the prospect that White Americans will soon be a minority. A subset seems further offended by court decisions bestowing civil rights on gay people. Another subset is inflamed over removals of the Confederate battle flag from public spaces. Then there are environmental regulations that seem to snatch job opportunities from an already embattled middle class – and other kinds of federal regulation that have set some Whites on anti-government, secessionist, or survivalist paths.

In Akira Kurosawa's timeless 1950 masterpiece (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt004287