Wrangling Intelligence

Like the nuclear era before it, today’s era of artificial intelligence (AI) has been welcomed throughout the world with wonder and equal parts of enthusiasm and trepidation. No doubt, it is a once-in-a-century game-changer. The questions I have are, will we succeed in applying the lessons from the development and deployment of nuclear fission, or someday be viewing the AI version of “Oppenheimer” at the 2090 Academy Awards? Will we summon the discipline to moderate AI to truly advance humankind, or will it be weaponized to destroy our civilization?

Today, both seem like distinct possibilities. Reality will likely be a mixed bag. Probably at best a mixed bag. There are, however, tools from the softer social sciences and philosophy that we can apply to tilt the scales in favor of advancing humankind instead of destroying it. We must put as much energy into the application of those tools today as we are into the mad rush with which technology companies are pursuing more robust and more capable versions of AI. Philosophy is often ridiculed for its lack of production, especially when compared to science and technology. Its job, however, is not to produce breakthroughs for the advancement of humanity; it is to keep those of science and technology from becoming madness. In the nuclear era, Einstein knew this as Oppenheimer eventually did, too. But not before it was too late.

Capitalism does a magnificent job of creating wealth in a direct and observable manner, but only an indirect and often uneven job of furthering the well-being of all humanity. For that, we need the more layered and nuanced application of wisdom that was seldom found in the ego-driven mania of Los Alamos during the nuclear age, or Silicon Valley, or Redmond, Washington of today’s burgeoning age of AI. We must be heedful of those among us who know that the truly wealthy are those who want what they already have; who have left their egos behind to sit in the seat of the soul where eternal wisdom resides. Those who focus on thriving rather than striving.

As a young executive/entrepreneur, I often argued that success was dependent on whether you prevailed in two of three factors—resources, intelligence, and intensity—as long as one of the two was intensity. I now understand that this troika needs tweaking. The reason is quite basic: we have transitioned from a perpetual state of scarcity to one of abundance in the United States and many other parts of the developed world.[i] Today, zero-sum win/lose thinking is largely obsolete due to abundance. As such, resources as a factor have declined in importance, or at least in the highly contested pursuit thereof. Intelligence remains important and is obviously developing rapidly with AI. It is the critical factor of intensity that needs to be reconsidered in the age of abundance.

Intensity in the old troika meant to consider the level of ambition, passion, and will power—the energy of commitment. It’s what Ukraine has as its principal edge in fighting Putin’s Russia. […]

By |May 12th, 2024|Categories: Current, General, The New Realities|Tags: , |


Walking alone, but seldom lonely

Five senses guiding my sixth

To know the world on its own terms

Accepting what is while yearning for better


Seeing value in every being

Decency binds humanity to yearning

In the face of fear, anger, and war

Glory, grace, and peace beckon


We must recalibrate our course

Climbing the steps of decency

One true and noble act at a time

To right our world, steady its axis


It’s about more than knowing, it’s about doing

Practicing decency at every opportunity

Small gestures to […]

By |May 5th, 2024|Categories: General, Spiritual|Tags: , , |

Get Out of Your Box

As the humorist Dave Barry recently described a woman’s reaction toward the coming presidential election, she had “the facial expression of a person who has just opened the door to a port-a-potty on the last day of a midsummer chili festival.” Notwithstanding the aversion most Americans have toward a hyper-divided America, and the abject apathy we feel toward the current two geriatric presidential candidates, many continue to forecast a coming civil war between red and […]

By |April 21st, 2024|Categories: General, Recent, The New Realities|Tags: , |

America Needs a (Moral) Hero

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”

American media has created many heroes throughout my lifetime and our culture produced many more in real life from popular presidents like Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama to social activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks and, perhaps the largest category of all: […]

By |April 14th, 2024|Categories: General, Leadership, Recent|Tags: , , , , |

Racing into Spring

On my walk this morning up Boulder Creek, a Western Robin cocked its muddied beak at me and let out a clumsy squawk offering proof her winter rest had left her unpracticed in her warnings to approaching strangers. The message: “I am not to be trifled with” was, however, received. I hope she found a delicious earthworm or two to sate her gullet and soften her disposition.

For most of us, the winter of ’24 was […]

By |March 29th, 2024|Categories: General, Recent|Tags: , , , , |

For MLK, Jr: “Fierce Resilience”

Big mountains

Big snow

Big wind


Scoured stone

Frozen in time

Stasis preserved



Millennia speak

Through perseverance

Change swirls

Permanence unrivaled


If the peaks spoke

No trivia

Just just wisdom

Low resonance


Fierce resilience

Their message

As the world churns

Forever present

By |January 15th, 2024|Categories: Leadership, Recent, Spiritual|Tags: , |

Dear President Joe: What About Us?

Dear Joe:

On November 9, 2016, the day after Trump was elected our 45th president and you, Joe, started packing your boxes after living in the Naval Observatory for eight years, I posted “From Hope and Change to Fear and Change: A Letter to My Children.” In it I suggested that,

In the short run, expect the uncertainty that swirls around a Trump presidency to produce a significant amount of economic, political and social stress. Trade, foreign […]

By |January 7th, 2024|Categories: General, Leadership|Tags: , |
Go to Top