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Peter J. Denning, Editor in ChiefThe digitally connected world has become a large, swirling sea of information stripped of context.

We help our readers make sense of it, find meaning in it, learn what to trust, and prepare for the future that may show up. "Ubiquity and Your Future

Peter J. Denning,

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Check back weekly for new articles featured in the Workings of Science Symposium!


Workings of science: AI in 2156: the science of intelligence

by Kemal A. Delic, Jeff A. Riley

While most people are not familiar with the details of how artificial intelligence (AI) works, the term itself is becoming more familiar to the non-scientific community, to the point that it ("AI") has almost become part of the regular vernacular of the ordinary person. AI has been with us for a long time—from its first beginnings in ancient times in the form of automatons and other devices mimicking humans or other animals, through the middle of the last century when the term "artificial intelligence was actually coined, to the present times where it (the label rather than the actual technology) is entering the psyche of the general public. This article explores the notion that the technology we call artificial intelligence is not yet ripe but is establishing itself as a science in its own right, and that by 2156—the 200-year anniversary of the coining of the term—the technology should be in a position to deliver on its promises. ...


Workings of science: Is science limited to the sciences?

by Philip Yaffe

Albert Einstein once said, "The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." This thought was echoed by Carl Sagan, who said, "Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them." These observations, and those of numerous other intellectual luminaries, strongly suggest that the common distinction made between what is science and non-science, say between physics and history, is more apparent than real. These, of course, are personal opinions based on personal observations This essay explores the intriguing idea that virtually everything is science. It also provides some recent scientific evidence that trying to distinguish between science and non-science is not only fruitless but can also do real harm to individuals and society as a whole.



The surprising benefits of a pre-first draft

by Philip Yaffe

Good expository (non-fiction) writers are good because they have interesting and important things to say. Wrong. Virtually everyone has interesting and important things to say; it's just that we aren't aware of them. Here is a technique to help you find your inner voice. ...


Workings of science: Character traits of science

by Phil Yaffe

People who properly understand and appreciate science seem also to have an unlimited capacity to understand and appreciate most other things in life such as art, music, philosophy, poetry, sports, etc. By contrast, many people who don't properly understand and appreciate science seem to really hate it, even to the point of saying that science is "dehumanizing" and therefore they want nothing to do with it. This essay proposes a possible means of overcoming this unfortunate (and dangerous) misconception by positioning science as if it were an actual human being and then defining its many admirable qualities. It further suggests how the concept of science as a human being might be introduced into the educational system K–12. Not as a subject for study itself, but rather as the indispensable, rock-solid foundation on which the teaching of all other subjects in the curriculum would depend. ...