Life is good

April 11, 2013

Until Sunday, I had never heard of the company Life is good, which is perhaps not surprising considering that the company eschews conventional advertising. Instead, they grow based on word of mouth, and through the publicity generated by their work on behalf of children affected by poverty, violence, and illness.

Bert Jacobs, co-founder (together with his brother John) of Life is good, was the keynote speaker at the Ellucian Live conference I attended in Philadelphia this week. Bert’s story about the power of optimism is indeed inspiring, and it’s clear that his message – embodied in the grinning face of “Jake” on the products the company sells – resonates with people.

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Books: WWW Trilogy

August 7, 2012

I won’t say that Robert Sawyer is my new favorite author – that’s still Dean Koontz. But Sawyer is now my favorite science fiction author. His WWW Trilogy (Wake, Watch, and Wonder) is thought-provoking, full of real science as well as science fiction, and just plain good story-telling.

The trilogy chronicles the emergence of a conscious mind that somehow exists in the infrastructure of the World Wide Web.Because it has all the resources of the Web at its disposal, it has capabilities humans – and human governments – can only dream of. People use the internet to collaborate, but their efforts are puny next to a “being” that can instantaneously access any and all data of all kinds residing on any computer anywhere in the world so long as it is connected to the internet.

The question is whether such a being will use its vast power in ways that will help or hurt human beings. Because it is not localized in any particular part of the Web, it cannot be controlled.  Without risking devastating effects on the worldwide network of computers that are essential to commerce today, it cannot be removed. But some people think such a powerful non-human intelligence is so dangerous that it is worth the risk involved in destroying it.

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