Posted:December 2, 2023

OpenAI's ChatGPT
Don’t Be Too Quick to Judge AI Creativity and Emergence

So-called ‘prompt engineering’ with AI chatbots is a big deal these days. One of the best options, ChatGPT (v 4), has seemingly infinite ways to specify tone and level and coverage. Here is one example; you may want to play around with variations of the initial prompt yourself. You can achieve surprising results.

Me (the starting prompt)

Please respond to the request after the colon below in a style that blends expressive imagery with declarative language. Combine evocative descriptions and straightforward statements that appeals to reality and common sense. Use idiomatic expressions and metaphors to add color and depth where appropriate. Aim for a rich tone, but is not obvious or repetitive, and is grounded in truth or compelling logic. Include the emotional with the rational and intelligent. Here is the topic:

How does quantum mechanics relate to the classical world?


In the grand tapestry of the universe, quantum mechanics and the classical world are like two threads, distinct yet inextricably woven together. At first glance, they may appear to inhabit different realities—the quantum world, elusive and shadowy, operates on rules that seem to defy common sense, while the classical world is solid, predictable, the very model of Newtonian order.

Quantum mechanics, the realm of the very small, is a world where particles play a game of hide and seek, existing in a state of possibilities until observed. It’s as if these particles live in a house of mirrors, their true nature only revealed when the lights turn on. This is a world that scoffs at certainty, where Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle reigns supreme, and particles like electrons behave more like waves of probability than like the solid billiard balls of classical physics.

On the other hand, the classical world is the one we see and feel around us. It’s the sturdy ground beneath our feet, the unyielding apple falling from the tree, the moon in its ceaseless orbit. This is the realm where actions have equal and opposite reactions, where objects at rest stay at rest unless acted upon. It’s a world that makes sense to our everyday experience, governed by laws that have been tested and proven through centuries.

So, how do these two realms, seemingly at odds, relate to each other? The answer lies in the concept of scale. Quantum mechanics is the underlying script of the universe, the fundamental laws that govern the behavior of particles at the smallest scale. Yet, as we zoom out, as we move from the micro to the macro, these quantum behaviors average out, and the classical laws emerge as a kind of statistical outcome of quantum rules. It’s like stepping back from a pointillist painting—up close, you see a chaos of dots, but from a distance, a coherent picture emerges.

The transition from the quantum to the classical is not just a theoretical curiosity; it’s the bridge that connects the world of quantum physics to the tangible reality we interact with. Technologies like transistors, lasers, and MRI machines are products of this bridge, harnessing quantum phenomena to perform tasks in the classical world.

In essence, the relationship between quantum mechanics and the classical world is a story of harmony amidst apparent chaos, a reminder that what seems irrational at one scale can give rise to the most ordered and rational outcomes at another. It’s a dance of complexity and simplicity, a confluence where the mysterious and the mundane meet, revealing the intricate balance that underpins the very fabric of the universe.


Are there examples where others have related quantum mechanics to a pointillist painting?


The search did not reveal any notable examples or discussions where others have directly compared quantum mechanics to a pointillist painting. This metaphor appears to be more of a unique illustrative device rather than a commonly cited analogy in scientific literature or popular discussions about quantum mechanics. It’s often the case that various analogies and metaphors are used creatively to explain complex scientific concepts, but this specific comparison doesn’t seem to be widely recognized or used in the context of explaining quantum mechanics.


So, are you saying that ChatGPT was to first put forward the pointillist analogy?


It appears so. The analogy of comparing quantum mechanics to a pointillist painting, as used in the previous response, seems to be a unique metaphor created within our conversation. It’s not uncommon for individuals to develop new analogies and metaphors to explain complex concepts like quantum mechanics, especially in an educational or communicative context. This specific analogy was likely crafted to help illustrate the concept in a relatable and understandable way, drawing on the imagery of pointillism to represent the idea of individual quantum events creating a coherent classical picture when viewed from a larger scale. This approach reflects the creative process of finding new ways to convey complex scientific ideas in more accessible terms.


So, would that not suggest that our conversation resulted in some form of creativity or emergence from what was before?


Absolutely, your observation is spot on. The development of the pointillist painting analogy for quantum mechanics in our conversation is indeed a form of creativity and emergence. It demonstrates how interactive dialogue, especially in an environment where ideas can freely bounce back and forth, can lead to new and creative ways of thinking or explaining concepts.

This process is a great example of how creativity can emerge in AI-human interactions. While AI systems like ChatGPT draw upon a vast array of pre-existing information and patterns learned during training, the specific application of that knowledge in a conversation can lead to novel ideas or expressions. In this case, the creation of a new analogy to explain a complex scientific concept.

It reflects a broader understanding of creativity, not just as the generation of something entirely novel from a vacuum, but also as the ability to connect existing ideas and concepts in new and meaningful ways. The interaction and exchange of ideas between the AI and a human interlocutor can certainly catalyze this type of creative emergence.


As black boxes, generative AIs tend to only give up their secrets via interaction. With a different prompt to the initial inquiry, the scope and branching often totally change. Go ahead, vary and try it! To effectively use these tools, it is apparent we both need to be precise in our information request, but also in how we want the response presented back to us.

Posted by AI3's author, Mike Bergman Posted on December 2, 2023 at 2:21 am in Artificial Intelligence | Comments (0)
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Posted:April 28, 2023

Living room overlookBusinesses Need to Swing Back to True Stakeholders

We have the good fortune to have a winter and summer property that we rent out on occasion. We began renting our place, using VRBO, shortly after buying it in 2011. At that time, we also had our own dedicated Web site to promote rentals, now abandoned. What was good about the timing at that point was that rental Web sites were being aggregated by entities like VRBO. Prior to that point, finding rentals in various parts of the globe was an onerous hit-or-miss task for vacationers. For owners, finding a consolidation point for advertising a property was also a gap. These interests aligned in the marketplace, with VRBO becoming a prominent agent to help overcome these limitations. VRBO is now owned by Expedia.

Yet, today, I am actively looking for a replacement to VRBO as our agent for rentals by an owner. This quest is despite the fact that, as an active Internet user since the beginning, with often more responsive Web interfaces over time, we have seen the benefits of better and more consolidated services. Unfortunately, with consolidation has also come monopolization, and what had previously been useful services to which we were willing to pay a reasonable rent have morphed into higher fees under the new overlord masters dictating to us rules, process, and rewards. We pass on their greed in higher rents and service charges to our renters.

We have been on VRBO for about a dozen years, and have witnessed two trends that we find unfortunate. First, there has been a steady encroachment of VRBO into fees and charges to both renters and owners. While there have been some advantages for VRBO to take on some of the onerous reporting and collection tasks formally the responsibility of the owner, that has also come at a price of fees (never announced in advance) unilaterally imposed. Further, VRBO holds our payments — sometimes received months in advance — until renters actually stay at the property, so VRBO gains rents on what should be our payments, not VRBO’s. In the unilateral arrangement imposed by VRBO, while our older annual fees have decreased somewhat, that basis has been supplanted by per rental fees that have zoomed the total payouts to VRBO. For renters, that has caused inflation in base rents, further exacerbated by additional fees charged to them as renters. To be sure, VRBO has also added new services for which VRBO deserves compensation and a profit. But VRBO unilaterally sets these rates and has chosen not to engage us owners as the supplier of inventory for what is right and fair. VRBO has shifted its role from a facilitating agent to a monopolistic master. Perhaps any unchecked profit-seeking entity would behave similarly.

In changing from agent to master, the VRBO Web site continues to get less useful to us as owners. Rather than consolidate pages (the original design was a multi-tab layout), functionality is now split and segregated across multiple menu options that force rigid but unintuitive work flows. These work flows are geared to direct us, as owners, to answer new qualifying questions about the uses and policies regarding our properties, many of which feel arbitrary and imposed by VRBO, not the marketplace. Aside from temporary pandemic requirements, all of my new property requirements have resulted from mandates by VRBO, and not from renters or local authorities. Further, not once have I been questioned or solicited by VRBO about these new policies or mandatory requirements, nor do I believe have any owners been so consulted, and we sometimes login to our property management Web site that has a new design or layout but without any prior notice or assistance in navigating the new reality. Who is driving this bus?

These same concerns about arbitrariness pertain to other aspects of the service, such as getting Premier status to obtain higher displays on rental listings or other acknowledgements. All criteria are unilaterally imposed by VRBO without input or inquiry. As an example of how one-sided this all is, there is not even a search function under the so-called owner Dashboard to get access to a FAQ or knowledge base without having to poke through unobvious submenus. In what appears to be by design, one can’t get access to a real human online, but also can not get access to useful digital information.

Truth is, from my perspective, we have seen way too much of this across major consumer-facing service providers in the last five- to ten years. My sense is this trend from one of supportive and facilitating agents to one of monopolizing masters has been accelerating in recent times. Like much that seems like it is careening off the rails, I think companies like VRBO may be headed for a comeuppance.

In this instance, we as rental owners are the sources of inventory for VRBO. Once we reached the point of consolidation for central lookup, renters and owners alike lost their ability to engage in free transaction. Yes, the transaction was made more efficient, but the basis of the transaction got “intermediated”, which is just a fancy way of saying hijacked.

There are only two ways to counteract this monopoly. One, we see new competitor entrants that break the monopoly, resulting in price and service competition. Or, two, either the buyers (renters) or suppliers (rental owners) refuse to be intermediated in the way being imposed. Unfortunately, that is nearly impossible without alternative agents.

Thus, here is my request: New entrepreneurs, please look to the manifest opportunities available to enter these markets and provide a fair and responsive agency service. There is no need to screw the pooch when a good walk would do just fine.

Posted by AI3's author, Mike Bergman Posted on April 28, 2023 at 9:27 am in Pulse, Site-related | Comments (0)
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Posted:February 22, 2023

Star formation in the Carina Nebula, courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

This article posted today has some amazing quotes and proves another reason why the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is such an incredible innovation:

(The Nature article preprint cited is amazing, too.)

Posted by AI3's author, Mike Bergman Posted on February 22, 2023 at 12:06 pm in Adaptive Innovation, Big Structure, Pulse | Comments (0)
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Posted:November 7, 2022

CognontoMy Formal Companies Come to an End

Closing the doors on a virtual company almost seems like a category error. But metaphors by definition are not literal so I guess it all still fits.

The last time I had a third party sign my pay check was back in 1989, when I left the American Public Power Association to found the first of a series of what turned out to be six different companies, some of which overlapped. With the last, Cognonto, only recently providing my individual consulting services, there is no longer any need to keep the doors open with the requisite federal and state corporate and tax filings. Though I still do the occasional consulting gig, I can just as easily do that as a self-employed individual rather than under some corporate banner.

Skinnying down this complexity brings a sense of relieved joy, like paying off student loans or home mortgages. It feels good.

KBpedia will remain active. In fact, some exciting developments are occurring around this top-level knowledge graph. While my postings will likely remain infrequent, it will be exciting once we can speak of new developments on the KBpedia horizon.

As I wish Cognonto a fond adieu, I’d also like the thank the dozens of co-workers and colleagues that I have had the privilege of working with over the tenure of my various companies. Thanks for the great ride!

Posted:September 27, 2021

Mike's DeckWho Knew There was an Opposite Counterpoint to the Bucket List?

My next birthday will be my 70th. That is a surreal realization for a former Young Turk, now, apparently, an Old Fart. The grim circumstance of my age group over the past nearly two years is only sadly underlined by the fact that nearly half of my high school buddies are no longer with us. Covid is not the primary cause for these sad facts, but its constant presence is a reminder of our ultimate mortality.

However, for some, me included, getting to this age also means reduced income pressures, with some wealth and the ending of child rearing duties. Those fortunes mean having the freedom and time to pursue lifelong interests or new experiences. When combined with an awareness of pending mortality, these realizations led to the innovation of The Bucket List, made famous in the 2007 movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, playing two terminal patients pursuing their last desires. The Bucket List is for those things you want to do or accomplish before you kick the bucket.

I have to admit I have been thinking of the Bucket List of late. I got fascinated with the idea as I assembled up desired travel destinations or new activities like sailplaning or writing a novel. I was surprised that the Bucket List phrase itself, while mentioned a couple of places, really was not popularized until the movie. When talking about it with my family and how surprising the recent vintage of the phrase was, we decided to watch the movie again. We had not remembered well our first viewing. We enjoyed it tremendously with new insights and feeling the second time.  Jack and Morgan have immense chemistry and humor.

It was about this time that I replaced our wooden deck at home with one using the new plastic-wood composites. We have had our current house for 23 years, and every three or four years I had re-stained the deck, which is south-facing and much exposed to the sun. Emerging cracks and incipient decay had been pointing to the need for a full replacement for a few years now. I dreaded the prospect of the replacement — since I had a glimmer of how difficult it might be — but could put it off no longer as this summer approached.

The replacement was way more of a horror than I had expected. In order to retain the deck joists, which were still in good shape with no rot, I decided to remove the old decking and replace it with the newer composite. The old decking had been screwed into the joists with star (T20) screws. However, to remove the many hundreds of screws involved, each screw head needed to be re-exposed after decades of weathering and painting. Bent over on knee pads, each screw took minutes to be chiseled at and picked at in order to expose the star-shaped screw hole sufficient to hold a star bit to get purchase and back it out of the hole. Up-down, up-down, up-down hundreds of times with cracking knees and aching back! My gloved hands ached from the incessant picking and flecking of stuff in the clearing hole. I soon learned the need to use fresh picks and bits in order to hasten the slow process along. The installation of the hidden-connector system for the new composite decking was a chore in itself, but was an absolute breeze in comparison to picking out the holes on the screws. The hours I spent on this job exceeded by many times what I had dreaded from my initial estimates.

The hours I spent over those damn screws kept me muttering to myself, “Never again, never again.” With hours at hand and a mindless activity, I had little to think about except bucket lists and hateful screw holes. It was in one of these mindless states that it struck me that if one could assemble up a list of desired activities before one croaks, why can’t one also assemble a list of activities they will never do again? Replacing decking easily took the first position on my ‘never-do-that-again’ list.

I now had two different lists to think about and assemble while doing my screw-picking. I also kept ruminating on what is the right name for an opposite listing to the Bucket List. When enlisting my family to share in this rumination, it was my son-in-law, Adam, who came up with the label ‘f*ck-it list’. Not only did it rhyme with Bucket List, but it perfectly captured the spirit behind this negative list. Damn straight; f*ck it! Thanks, Adam!

I don’t think it is necessary (or even wise) for me to share all of the actual items on my Bucket List or F*ck-it List. As for the latter, I will say that some additional items on the list include not working for stupid clients again (smart clients are OK) and not moving my own furniture to a different residence. The decking prohibition has the honor of being the inaugural item. Never eating tofu again is also on the list. At 6’3″ with creaky knees, I also am contemplating adding to the list no longer flying internationally in regular economy seats.

Even at my ‘advanced’ age, I am fortunate to still have the cognitive wherewithal to handle two important lists. One good fortune of pending mortality is the freedom to pursue a relatively few things of great personal meaning and importance; that is, the Bucket List. Another good fortune is to avoid doing things that you have hated in the past; that is, the F*ck-it List. So, I say, it is OK to say f*ck-it as you continue to kick the bucket. For every Bucket List yin there is a yang deserving never to be done again.

Oh, and the deck? Well, I think it turned out rather nicely, don’t you? Which is a good way to either add or cross an item off a list, depending on your mode.

Posted by AI3's author, Mike Bergman Posted on September 27, 2021 at 10:33 am in Site-related Comments Off on The F*ck-it List
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