Blog Post #316 AI and Training

Blog Post #316 AI and Training

While I can’t really predict the future, I think a good guess is that artificial intelligence will be becoming more and more important.

Artificial intelligence is that process where computers can exhibit “intelligence”.  The Turing Award is for designing computer systems that ‘pass’ the test of acting like humans.  

AI is on the grow.  Autonomous cars are basically AI systems – with sensors that monitor traffic and people around the vehicle and with those inputs can ‘self-drive’ the vehicle.  (I’m looking forward to this!!)

A recent article stated: “”As AI decreases demand for some jobs but creates demand for others, retraining will become a lifelong necessity”

The article goes on to say: “”This will need to be developed in partnership with industry, and lessons must be learned from the apprenticeships scheme.”  Childhood education will also need to be reformed, according to the report, with schools teaching both the skills needed to work alongside AI and to take full advantage of the technology available.  For a proportion, this will mean a thorough education in AI-related subjects, requiring adequate resourcing of the computing curriculum and support for teachers.”

Educators have talked about ‘lifelong learning” for years – and it really needs to happen.  Even in my senior years, I must be conversant with technologies. I cannot drop into a hole and pretend that technology doesn’t happen.  

So … what are you doing to be ready for AI?  I’m continuing to read, to monitor and ponder the changes.

What do you think?


Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #315 Patience:


My comment:  I really want more patience in my life.

My wife’s comment:  When do you want that?

My comment:  NOW – RIGHT NOW!!!

Patience is generally seen as a virtue.  You can be patience as your children grow up, for spring to come, for Christmas to come.  Sometimes, though we need to be patient in other situations, and unfortunately we want it NOW!!

Last spring as I was diagnosed with aorta tears, the surgeon indicated (a) I was lucky to be alive; and (b) he (they) would schedule surgery for me and (c) don’t do anything too strenuous in the meantime!!!

From the time of my initial visit to the emergency room (April 16) to the actual surgery (July 5) was two-and-one-half months.  To me that was a long time. I met with the surgeon several times. I had several CAT scans, X-Rays, and blood tests. I just needed to be patient!!

Likewise after the second surgery (September 19), I thought I would recover quickly and be fully functional in a few weeks – not true, not true – another time to be patient.

From Wikipedia we have this definition:  
“Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances such as: perseverance and/or the ability to wait in the face of delay; provocation without responding in negative annoyance/anger; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties”

We have to learn to be patient and not fly off the handle.  When your baby has cried for three hours, it might be hard to be patient; when you have been vomiting for hours (and even if you have taken the appropriate medicines), it might be hard to be patient.

In a similar vein, I Corinthians 13 has this (about love):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I hope you have patience in your life – that you can wait without being rash.  I know I am still learning patience!!!

What do you think?


Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #315 Time

Time is a real thing – but there are times when we need to go ‘outside of time’.  Time to reflect, to meditate, to empty ourselves and breathe in God.

In my spiritual views “God” is outside time – He was in the beginning and ever shall be.  But, man is definitely ‘in time’. We are born on a date and die on a date. In between all our activities have a timestamp with them!!

But even Jesus took time out to pray and rest.  In Christian and Jewish scriptures, on the seventh day of creation God rested and called it the “Sabbath”.  Orthodox Jews faithfully obey the sabbath. There are stoves / ovens that have “Sabbath’ controls – so without doing ‘work’ on the sabbath, they can be set to turn on and off by themselves.  Likewise no driving or other activities on the sabbath.

Growing up in the midwest in the 1950’s, nothing was open on Sundays – other than maybe gas stations.  I’m thinking that even grocery stores were closed. You needed to shop on the other days and let the store employees take the day off too.  Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A are two notable retail businesses that are closed on Sundays for families and church.

Even scriptures talk of the land resting.  On the seventh year you should leave your fields ‘fallow’ to recover from previous years.  Some farmers do practice that by planting special crops like clover and other legumes to bring nitrogen and nutrients into the soil after years of productivity.  There was also a grand sabbath – the 50th year – the 7th year of the 7th year if you will. In that time slaves were to be freed and more.

The land needs to rest, and people need to rest.

But, in our (United States) recent history, we have almost all stores open on Sundays, many people have to work on Sundays.  Where is the time to rest, reflect and to refresh?

So today, my words of wisdom (as such) are to set aside time for YOU – time to relax, and to get ready for more days of work, but a time to take time off of work.

What do you think?  Do you work seven days a week?


Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #314 Gossip:

So  what about gossip?  

An online dictionary defined gossip as:  

  • Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
  • A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
  • Trivial, chatty talk or writing.

Many times gossip is malicious – some of the conversations are true, while some are not.  (that is rumors or just talk).

“Did you know that Cyndi is pregnant?” Might be a true statement.  Maybe Cyndi hasn’t wanted to share the news. Maybe Cyndi lost a baby to a miscarriage and wants to be farther along in her pregnancy with a few more checkups and verification of a valid pregnancy before sharing with friends and office coworkers.   

Maybe somebody should check with Cyndi before sharing that news.  

It seems like the rumor mill (gossip mill?) can go crazy with jobs.

“Do you know that Ryan is taking another job and moving to Oklahoma?”.  While it might be true that Ryan is looking for jobs and even doing some interviewing, do we know it is true?  What if management hears of this and was thinking of promoting Ryan to a higher position, but, hey, if Ryan is moving to Oklahoma – or even considering leaving the company maybe we don’t want him in that higher position.

Coaches are frequently targets of gossip.  “Did you know that Coach K from Duke is leaving and going to UCLA?  Yes, they made him a BIG offer that he couldn’t refuse.” Again, this may or may not be true.  But, if it is recruiting season and Coach K has some prime recruits looking at Duke, if they hear he is leaving, those recruits might pick another college.  

Of course, the rumor mill  / gossip mill could be right.  It seems like many deny the rumors / gossip one day and then two weeks later say “Yes, it was right”.  

Taking the Coach K rumor.  Maybe UCLA did call and talk to him.  My guess is that Coach K is very happy with the legacy he has at Duke and told UCLA that he wasn’t interested.  But somebody ‘heard’ him talking to UCLA. Or some person at UCLA ‘leaked’ that information in an attempt to lure him to UCLA.  Maybe Coach K had recently been the target of an NCAA investigation into players getting easy grades so they could stay eligible; or that NCAA was checking into the concept that some Duke players were being paid to play at Duke by wealthy alumni.  Maybe Coach K is “on the hot seat” and really is looking.

For me, I don’t particularly like gossip.  It can be malicious.

Malicious example:  I work in the same department as Tim.  For some reason I don’t like Tim – maybe he got promoted and I didn’t.  So, I start a false, malicious rumor about Tim. “Did you hear that Tim got called on the carpet for embezzling funds?” – or – “Did you hear that Tim has been sleeping with the boss” (either male or female). If not true, the intent is to discredit Tim and make him look bad.  

So, I tend to walk away from gossip.  

Part of this goes to the old adage “If you can’t say anything nice about a person, don’t say anything at all”.  I think it can be judgmental, it can hurt the person to talk behind his/her back.

What do you think?  Do you gossip? Do you listen and then drop it, or do you hear and pass it on?  

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #313 Artificial Intelligence in Retail:

We’ve been looking at AI – artificial intelligence.  Today, let’s look at retail sales – maybe not as exciting as autonomous cars.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management.  

As a form of AI, CRM is able to maps people to products.  First think Google searches. Google has our searches down.  When we search for something Google maps that into prior searches and finds connections.  It is said that Google knows more about me than I do.

Let’s say I start to look at cars.  Google (and Facebook) and others will start putting car ads on their pages that I visit.  As I click through the ads and start to identify particular makes and models, those social network pages start to narrow the ads as well.  Let’s say I am interesting in a BMW convertible. But I start looking at cars in general, then new cars, then new cars that are convertible.  Google makes money by selling ad space to retailers. And when the search narrows and gets more in focus, they can charge the retailers more for the ads.  

Personal:  A while back I was looking for a particular item.  One morning I spent several hours looking, checking out product reviews.  The ads followed me for months!!!

Some retailers are experimenting with robot assistants on the retail floor.  With some machine learning and well developed algorithms they can be more valuable than humans.  For example, let’s say a woman is looking for lingerie – but the only person around is a man and she feels funny asking him for a bra fitting.  The robot will be anonymous enough to ask for various dimensions, styles, colors, events and options. It should also be smart enough to bring an appropriate woman to help with the bra fitting.  

Recently the political arena was surprised that such AI topics could be used in elections.  By tailoring political ads to the consumer’s interest, their candidate could gain votes. Maybe I’m an anti-gun activist (which generally points to Democrats), but also an anti-abortion person (which generally points to Republicans).  Could ads from Democrats show pro-life Democratic candidates that want gun control? Could Republican ads show anti-gun and pro-life Republican candidates? Could the ads subtly change my point of view?

It is said that with a reasonable margin of error, data analytics in retail can point to the next time we will go car shopping.  And … they can point to which vehicles might be more attractive to us. Are you a soccer mom? Are you a retired professor? There are cars that just might appeals to us and the data can be stacked against us.

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #312 Simple Artificial Intelligence Part II

Yesterday we looked at some of the parts of AI: machine learning, robotics, expert systems.  Today let’s look at natural language processing and massive data analytics.

Let’s look at each:

Natural Language Processing:  For years interpreters have had the job of taking one language and changing it into another – including sign language. Or spoken language into written language (like closed captioned TV).  The old joke is that a translator was translating a Biblical statement from English into Russian. The statement was “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. (Matthew 26:41). The translator had a hard time with that as the ending translation (in English) was something like “The vodka is very good, but the meat is undercooked”. (Vodka = spirit; meat = flesh).

So, let’s think about it.  Some words in English have multiple meanings – like I like to run; and I am running for office.  In the example ‘spirit’ could mean the human spirit – or a liquid spirit. In terms of spirit, it could mean the Holy Spirit or a evil spirit / ghost.

Maybe while sipping a vodka drink I could say “This is a nice spirit”; and maybe as I am replying to a comment say “That has a nice spirit to it”.  

How could a computer know which ‘spirit’ to use?  Humans read into their interpretations by the context.  What is being said here? Language translators (humans) can tell by the spoken word the context and can make the adjustment in the second language.  Natural language processing is much more than just translating, but the concepts are similar. “What is being said here”.

An extension of natural language processing is in computing.  If you have done databases with SQL (structured query languages) you know that the structure has to be pretty well defined “List all * from database 1 where last_name is equal to “Smith”.  Natural language processing always more flexibility. Your Siri and Amazon Echo products are building on Natural Language processing.

A final AI topic for this blog today is massive data analytics.  Think of analyzing (all that is ALL) of the data from cancer studies, tests and trials.  Think of all the possible moves in a chess game. Being able to analyze and synthesize large amounts of data quickly.

Now think of autonomous vehicles (that is ‘self-driving cars’).  Taking all the inputs from all the traffic, road signs (speed limits, stop lights, yield), driveways, people and more and steering the car through them.  Now that is massive data crunching!!!

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!



Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #311 Simple Artificial Intelligence

I’m excited (and scared) about artificial intelligence.  Loosely to me that means machine learning, robotics, expert systems, natural language processing and massive data analytics.

Let’s look at each:

Machine learning:  Learning is very human.  As kids we touched the stove and found out it was hot.  We learned not to touch the stove. We also learned not to put our tongue on metal poles in the winter in the north as it could stick to it!!!  Having computers ‘learn’ is an interesting concept. The stove is not always hot; the metal pole is not always cold. How do we (humans) determine whether it is the wrong season or wrong time to touch the stove or pole?  

So, getting computers to reason – something like:  “My sensors tell me that the stove is hot; therefore do not touch it”.  Now some things need more analysis. A particular stock is going down in price / value – is it time to sell it?  Even financial analysts have trouble on that. More data is needed – is the company having a hard time? Has the company made some changes that will put it back up in price?  Are tariffs and governmental policies going to help or hinder this particular company and it’s stock price? The great stock brokers / analysts put research into the matter – and that helps determine that (a) this is good time to sell; or (b) with the price down, this is a good time to buy!!

Robotics:  What a great time for robotics – and only going to get better.  With computer vision (and artificial intelligence) robots are building cars, sorting packages and doing a bunch of mundane things that might not be very exciting for humans.  Most (all?) car manufacturers are using robots to assemble cars – to weld and to create a better car than humans. Will we have R2D2 and C3PO robots soon? Not sure – but someday that will happen.

Expert Systems:  Trying to put the expertise of a human expert into machine form.  I was just in my garden before doing my blog. I was looking at my tomato plants.  Would an expert put on more fertilizer now? Would an expert suggest staking the plants?  Would an expert see the small bugs on a plant and suggest ways to solve that problem?

For my dissertation I did an expert system on advising undergraduate students.  It was a pretty good attempt. I wish I would have stayed with that line of research!!  I could have been a leader in AI / Expert systems!!

More on AI tomorrow!!

What do you think?  

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #310 Things beyond our control – Part II

As mentioned before after my surgeries of last year that I suffered some depression.  While my primary care physician has prescribed medications, she also requested a meeting for me with a social worker / counselor.

I don’t talk about mental health issues frequently (or … maybe not at all).  Attitude and mental soundness are important, but there are times that a person needs somebody to talk to / talk with.  That might be a counselor / social worker as in the case for tomorrow’s appointment. It might be a close friend (non-judgmental), minister, priest, rabbi or other.  I have a friend who is in spiritual direction and another who is a social worker / counselor. For this experience I wanted a new person. Counseling can help a person get back on track, to find hidden flaws and help correct them, and to ease the burden.  

In some respects my recent completion of a Stephen Ministry training course (and commissioning as a Stephen Minister) also fits the role of a counselor.  

It is intended to be a non-judgmental, but Christian ministry experience – one on one with the person.  Although I have not been assigned a person, I am eager (and somewhat scared) to start the process. I consider myself an encourager and motivator.  With the Stephen Ministry I can help a person by listening to them. I am not to solve their problems, but to discuss their problems.

Maybe I need a Stephen Minister for my situation.  I hope to both benefit from my counseling session tomorrow and to be to apply the concepts in my own ministry!!


What do you think?  

Have a great day!!



Posted by Bruce White, 0 comments

Blog Post #309 Things beyond our control (maybe)

Blog Post #309 Things beyond our control (maybe)

Some time back, I was just listless – lacking energy, getting tired easy.  I was trying to get my exercise (generally walking in), but it was taking longer and not as much fun to do.  (I generally take my phone and audiobooks when I walk – and track my walk with “Map My Walk” app on my phone).  

My wife was talking to a friend who suggested “I bet he has vitamin D deficiency”.  I called my primary care physician and set up an appointment. She indicated that I should do a blood test before coming in.

The blood test showed I was deficient in Vitamin D.  I added that to my diet and got more energy. Vitamin D is sometimes called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin because sunlight does give vitamin D.  With my walking I was surprised to have the deficiency. But, with it still being spring, not much of my body was subject to sunlight, so maybe I just wasn’t getting enough.

SO – something beyond my control – that came into my control with the doctor’s assistance.

Plus, after my surgeries last year, I was depressed.  The doctor indicated that was generally normal (especially for men – with recent retirements – thinking that their lives were pretty much worthless).  She prescribed an extra dose of the depression medicine I had been on. That also was beyond my control – but with the doctor’s help came into my control.

What I’m trying to say, the body is a unique thing.  Minute traces of vitamins and minerals can make a difference in one’s health.  

In similar fashion, the Irish potato crop failed and many died.  The potatoes died due to a fungus that was beyond the peasants control – but with science it was in their control.

And also, pineapples in Hawaii started to die, but with science a trace mineral saved the day for pineapples.

So … things outside our control can be brought under control with wise counsel and with science.

So, if you have been done and depressed for a while, see a doctor – it might not be a bad attitude, it might be a lack of vitamins and minerals (or a poor diet).


What do you think?  

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #308 Smiles

Here are some quotes about smiling:

Dr Seuss:  “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Mother Teresa: “Peace begins with a smile..”

Roy Bennett: “More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.”

Roy Bennett: “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”

I was in a service club (Kiwanis) and at the end of our luncheons we sang:

Smile and the World smiles with you; sing a song;

Don’t be weary just be cheery all day long

When ever your trials, you troubles and your cares

Seem to be more than you can really bear

Just smile and the world smiles with you, sing a song.

I was just reading an article about frowning – and how that takes both you and the other person down.  Be upbeat, smile. The old 1950’s song “Let a smile be your umbrella on a rainy day” (Perry Como) is true.  That song has lyrics of “A smile will bring the sunshine and you’ll never get wet”

It is all about attitude – smile, be happy – OR – frown and be sad


What do you think?  

Have a great day!!



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