Category Archives: Expert

Nunchuk Skills!

An Approach to Research

Source: Recurse Center, date indeterminate

Fund people, not projects. Most research today is funded by writing proposals for specific projects. But what if you find a better problem to work on while doing your work? Worse, project funding is frequently tied to deliverables, which can encourage short-term thinking and discourage high-risk and potentially high-reward explorations.

Look to the edges. Much mainstream research work focuses on what is currently fashionable. Yet we believe that much of the most exciting work, what will ultimately be understood as the truly luminous ideas, are at the edges of our knowledge, currently barely visible, not yet in the mainstream. In the words of Stewart Brand, we need to “look to the edges to see where the center is going.”

The fashionable fields are often important and worth funding. But if you want to make a difference with limited funding, you need to be pushing the boundary, doing edgy things, things that are not yet part of the mainstream, but with luck and imagination and daring will help create the mainstream of the future.

Meta-Science

Source: Nature, Nov 2014

… metascience, an approach in which science turns the lens of scrutiny on itself. Metascience, the science of science, uses rigorous methods to examine how scientific practices influence the validity of scientific conclusions.

It has its roots in the philosophy of science and the study of scientific methods, but is distinguished from the former by a reliance on quantitative analysis, and from the latter by a broad focus on the general factors that contribute to the limitations and successes of research.

Edwin Land – the man who inspired Steve Jobs

Source: NYTimes, Oct 2011

“Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.” And his sense of innovation: “Every significant invention,” Land once said, “must be startling, unexpected, and must come into a world that is not prepared for it. If the world were prepared for it, it would not be much of an invention.”

Jobs saw, and Jobs understood: “Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that.”

Related Resource: CBS News, Oct 2014

I was struck by how the truest creativity of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences. They believed that beauty mattered. “I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics,” Jobs told me when I embarked on his biography. “Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” The people who were comfortable at this humanities-technology intersection helped to create the human-machine symbiosis that is at the core of this story.

Like many aspects of the digital age, this idea that innovation resides where art and science connect is not new. Leonardo da Vinci was the exemplar of the creativity that flourishes when the humanities and sciences interact.

 

Larry Page Quotes

Source: Business Insider, Nov 2014

On making a difference: “What is the one sentence summary of how you change the world? Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!”

“We should be focusing on building the things that don’t exist.”

On what’s important: “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organization to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?”

Imagination Precedes Ambition

Source: Fortune, Nov 2014

The Google CEO is the kind of guy who thinks the improbable is a given and the seemingly impossible is likely. He’s not one or two steps ahead of his engineers and research scientists; he often seems to inhabit an alternate universe, where the future has already happened. … “He wanted to make sure there was a moon shot after the moon shot,” says Astro Teller, who heads Google X. “Reminding us that his ambitions are this high,” Teller says, raising his hand well above his head, “helps people aspire to more.”

Page says his vision for Google is different: “We’d like to have a bigger impact on the world by doing more things.”

Page wants Google to keep attracting the world’s best talent so that he can build an entirely new kind of company—one that can stay at the top of its game not for a decade or two, but perhaps for generations. “It’s what’s continuing to drive me,” he says.

In an hourlong conversation he volunteers that he is “super-excited” about this and “really excited” about that and “very excited” about something else nearly two dozen times.

Page says it’s also part of how he manages the company’s armies of alpha scientists. “Deep knowledge from your manager goes a long way toward motivating you,” Page says. “And I have a pretty good capability for that.”

Page looks at Google’s projects as a portfolio, a “bucket of investments.” Some are short-term, others are medium or long-term bets. He says he is fairly certain some will pay off. And while the investments are sizable, they are also gradual. “By the time you know you want to put a significant amount of money into something, you’re pretty sure you’re going to make money from it,” says Page. “It’s not that the risk is so high.” To the most ambitious CEO on the planet, clearly the bigger risk is in not trying to conjure the future.

… innovations are coming from the combination of human inspiration and computer-processing power

Source: WSJ, Sep 2014

Turing thought would someday show that machines could think in ways indistinguishable from humans. His belief in the potential of artificial intelligence stands in contrast to the school of thought that argues that the combined talents of humans and computers, working together as partners, will always be more creative than computers working alone.

Despite occasional breathless headlines, the quest for pure artificial intelligence has so far proven disappointing. But the alternative approach of connecting humans and machines more intimately continues to produce astonishing innovations.

no matter how many logical tasks such machines could perform, there was one thing they would never be able to do, Ada insisted. They would have no ability to actually think and “no pretensions whatever to originate anything.” Humans would supply the creativity; the machine could only do what it was told.

there is another possibility, the one that Ada Lovelace envisioned: that the combined talents of humans and computers, when working together in partnership and symbiosis, will indefinitely be more creative than any computer working alone.

This was the approach taken by the most important unsung pioneers of the digital age, such as Vannevar Bush, J.C.R. Licklider and Doug Engelbart. “Human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today,” Licklider wrote in 1960.