All posts by Peter Denning

Peter J. Denning (pjd@nps.edu) is Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Cebrowski Institute for information innovation at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of ACM Ubiquity, and is a past president of ACM. The author’s views expressed here are not necessarily those of his employer or the U.S. federal government.
dreams wants to be a pilot

Your Science T-Shirt Doesn’t Fly

A few months ago Science sent many people a sample of the magazine and a solicitation to subscribe. As seems to be the manner in which these things are done, there were several enticements included in the package. The one that caught our eyes was the free T-shirt. Continue reading

Emö Rubik invented the Rubik's Cube in 1974 and it became the world’s most popular puzzle. The cube consists of 26 cubelets that move and turn when the faces are twisted. This cube is in a solved position when each face is a uniform color. The goal is to take a randomized cube though a series of face twists to transform it into the solved position. Learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube can teach us something about learning to program.

Can a Rubik’s Cube Teach You Programming?

Emö Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube in 1974 and it became the world’s most popular puzzle. The cube consists of 26 cubelets that move and turn when the faces are twisted. This cube (pictured above) is in a solved position when each face is a uniform color. The goal is to take a randomized cube though a series of face twists to transform it into the solved position. Learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube can teach us something about learning to program.

Programming has always been seen as a skill in addition to a thinking process. But what exactly does it mean when we say programming is a skill? How is this a useful insight? Continue reading

Merging With Technology

My Robot Wants Your Job—NO

My fellow bloggers, Ted Lewis and Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez, claim robot automation of knowledge work is proceeding at such as pace that many workers will be displaced from jobs, and there will be no new replacement jobs available for them. Robots will take over all kinds of work and there will be no work left for humans. They further claim the only good way to address this inevitable socially undesirable situation is “basic income guarantee” (BIG). There is a more optimistic side to this complex issue and it is not as bleak and prohibitively expensive as BIG. To show it, I will briefly examine these questions:

  • What is new about job displacement with AI technology?
  • How fast is it happening?
  • What is a good social response to the disruption?

Continue reading

evolution

An Evolutionary Singularity

The drumbeats of the singularity advocates is getting louder with the constant refrain that humanity is doomed at the hands of machine intelligence. Although their argument is machine intelligence is inevitable, many people do not believe it is a likely future. In his recent book about the evolution of humanity, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Harari offers a different assessment. He argues our species, Homo sapiens, will become extinct in the next century—but by human choice, not machine intelligence. Let’s take a look at his intriguing argument. See if you agree. Continue reading