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Work Futures Daily - Autonomous Warbots

Bots on defense now, and soon on offense?; watch out for those dark creatives; write the meeting agen

Work Futures

November 19 · Issue #1032 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

Bots on defense now, and soon on offense?; watch out for those dark creatives; write the meeting agenda last; eat the biggest frog last; The free energy principle; Good at Slack; Esko Kilpi

Beacon NY - 2018-11-18 — I’m experimenting with a few changes to the Work Futures experience, both for me – as the author – and for you, dear readers.
One change is that the ‘long takes’ section will be refashioned. Instead of writing long takes in the newsletter, I will write them as independent posts, and then create links with short descriptions to them in the newsletter, like other links (see the Good at Slack example, below). So now short links and long links will just be links, with some likely to be to posts on This will make the newsletter shorter, I think.
I am contemplating a second innovation regarding long form, more investigative writing. Commentary about others’ posts or news – what has been the bulk of the ‘long takes’ I have been putting in the Daily – will be freely published on (and cross posted at, and However, I am thinking about launching a series or two in 2019 that will be place behind a paywall. (Revue now supports subscriptions). One series – tentatively called Work Talk – will consist of one or two interviews a month with leading thinkers and practitioners in the changing work of organizational change and the future of work. A second series – Work Walk – will be in depth reports, based on new research results, book releases, reviews of methods, and case studies of organizations attempting to adopt new ways of work. We’ll see how quickly I can roll these out, but I am certainly starting the interview series in January.
I’m planning $6.66/month for the subscription (which nets me around $5), and I will allow folks to get a 2 month 100% discount. (For those supporters that signed up for subscriptions in earlier incarnations of Work Futures, I will be sending a coupon for six or twelve months free access, when I launch.)
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Are Killer Robots the Future of War? Parsing the Facts on Autonomous Weapons | Kelsey Atherton points out that we already have autonomous weapons, but they are currently used for defense only, like Phalanx gun systems used as the last line of defense against antiship missiles. We will likely slip into offensive uses as soon as our capacity to operate in a world filled with AI and robots is overloaded. Personally, I like the idea of fewer human casualties in war, if in fact we can’t figure out how to avoid war in the first place.
Motivating Your Most Creative Employees | Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Reece Akhtar describe creatives as the source of innovation, and suggests that they need careful handling. But then they reveal a perspective that shows why creatives are so often trying to run away from organizations that don’t really get them:
Tolerate their dark side (but only up to a point): Everybody has a dark side, defined as his or her undesirable or toxic behavioral tendencies. Research has shown that creative individuals are naturally more irritable, moody, and hard to please. Furthermore, because of their imaginative disposition, creatives may come across as odd or eccentric, and they often specialize in making simple things complex, rather than the other way around. However, these non-conformist and individualistic tendencies also provide some of the raw ingredients for creativity: it is usually those who are likely to question the status quo and defy existing norms and traditions that push the most for innovations to happen. As the artist Banksy recently posted on Instagram when he made one of his art works self-destruct at a recent auction (just after the buyer spent over $1.3 million on it): “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge”. In contrast, if you only hire people who are well-behaved and do what you tell them, you can forget about innovation! However, it should be needless to say, no matter how creative employees are, there is no excuse for misbehaving or harming other employees and the organization.
Actually, there are many ‘excuses’ for misbehaving, considering who gets to define 'behaving’.
Design your next meeting backwards—here’s how | Art Markman says you shouldn’t start by creating a meeting agenda, you should think about who you want to influence, how to accomplish that (time needed, etc.), and whatthe attendees need to see prior to the meeting so that the time is well spent, instead of a series of surprises. Then draw up the agenda.
This well-known productivity advice is actually pretty bad | Also from Art Markman, the notion that you should eat the biggest frog first is probably wrong. You’re better off doing something that energizes you, because mood is a more important aspect of being productive than generally acknowledged.
The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI | Shaun Raviv profiles Karl Friston, a genius polymath known for groundbreaking research in brain structure, but even more so for his theories around what he calls the free energy principle, which he think is the organizing principle of all life, and soon, all curious AI:
When the brain makes a prediction that isn’t immediately borne out by what the senses relay back, Friston believes, it can minimize free energy in one of two ways: It can revise its prediction—absorb the surprise, concede the error, update its model of the world—or it can act to make the prediction true. If I infer that I am touching my nose with my left index finger, but my proprioceptors tell me my arm is hanging at my side, I can minimize my brain’s raging prediction-error signals by raising that arm up and pressing a digit to the middle of my face.
Good At Slack | Choire Sicha can be very, very funny, and curates the Workfriend column at the NY Times well, pulling out the best Dear-Abby-for-work questions. Here he’s responding to someone who wants to 'get good at Slack’:
Because people who run the tools at companies are not usually the same people who run the culture of companies, and because people who are more senior are generally also locked in senseless endless meetings all day, the adoption of Slack in offices is extremely haphazard and hazardous. Communities of people begin working in different ways in the same workplace. Messy! Some of us Gen Xers and many (most?) millennials grew up chatting online all day, every day, and we have taken to Slack perhaps too enthusiastically, we know. You email people will never be like us! (Though learn to adjust your notifications — make Slack work for you.)
From the Archives
Socialogy Interview: Esko Kilpi | Stowe Boyd | From 2015:
The factory logic of mass production forced people to come to where the machines were. In knowledge work, the machines are where the people are.
Esko Kilpi
Quote of the Day
It is not the corporation that is in the center, but the intentions and choices of individuals.
Esko Kilpi
crossposted from
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