Artificial Intelligence

Galdorisi May 19 pdf

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the most beneficial technological development of the 21st century.  However, it is undoubtedly the most hyped technological development of the past two decades.  This hype has raised expectations for results and, unfortunately, has clouded public understanding of the true nature of AI and its limitations as well as potential.

The highest level U.S. security documents demonstrate a recognition of the power of AI to support U.S. national objectives.

The National Security Strategy notes: “New advances in computing, autonomy, and manufacturing are already transforming the way we fight…From self-driving cars to autonomous weapons, the field of [AI], in particular, is progressing rapidly.”

The National Defense Strategy puts it this way: “The security environment is also affected by rapid technological advancements and the changing character of war…New technologies include artificial intelligence [and] autonomy.”

The U.S. Navy knows it needs AI, but would be well-served if it articulates these needs better so it can harness this critical technology.

I addressed this subject in my recent U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings article, The Navy Needs AI, It Just Isn’t Certain Why.”  Want more? You can read the full article here

Sports and Life

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Much has been written about how sports are a metaphor for life. While not everyone will agree with that statement, it is, from my perspective, largely true.

It’s no surprise then, that in the midst of the NBA finals, an article on the cover of Sunday’s New York Times Business Section talked about John McLean.

McLean is featured in this prominent article as premier wealth manager of the N.B.A. elite. A bevy of NBA superstars have hired him to manage their money – and their lives.

What I found most compelling in this article in the illustration featured here. I don’t know about you, but I find it a helpful reminder for everyday life.

Want more? You can read it here

Hooking Your Reader

Writing Techniques

People lead such frenetic lives in 2019 that writers are especially challenged to hook their readers, often in minutes or even seconds.

That can happen in a bookstore, or more commonly, on Amazon with a “Look Inside” the book offer.

I reflected on one opening sentence that I keep coming back to as a “best-practices” example. Here it is, from James Jones From Here to Eternity:

“When he finished packing, he walked out onto the third-floor porch of the barracks brushing the dust from his hands, a very neat and deceptively slim young man in the summer khakis that were still early morning fresh.”

And here’s how Ed McBain breaks it down in Killer’s Payoff:

“Jones packs a hell of a lot into that first line. He tells you it’s summer, he tells you it’s morning, he tells you you’re on an Army post with a soldier who’s obviously leaving for someplace, and he gives you a thumbnail description of his hero. That’s a good opening line.”

Keep writing…and go find that killer-good opening sentence….

On D-Day, this short video captures the raw magnitude of perhaps the greatest battle for freedom ever fought

Iraq Misadventure

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Volumes have been written about America’s misadventure in Iraq. Those books vary in quality as well as readability.

I recently read one that was insightful and made me think. My interest was stirred by a book review of Michael Mazarr’s new book, “Leap of Faith.”

Mazarr’s subtitle, “Hubris, Negligence, and America’s Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy,” likely tells you where his book is headed, but here is more from the review:

The operative word in the title of “Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America’s Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy” is the last one: tragedy. Drawing on extensive interviews with unnamed “senior officials” as well as recently declassified documents, Michael J. Mazarr attributes the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 to good intentions gone awry. Here is an example of “America’s worthy global ambitions” that went “terribly wrong.”

The Iraq war was not a tragedy. It was more like a crime, compounded by the stupefying incompetence of those who embarked upon a patently illegal preventive war out of a sense of panic induced by the events of 9/11. An impulse to lash out overwhelmed any inclination to deliberate, with decisions made in a “hothouse atmosphere of fear and vulnerability.” Those to whom President George W. Bush turned for advice had become essentially unhinged. Iraq presented an inviting opportunity to vent their wrath.

The handful of officials who shaped policy after 9/11, writes Mazarr, a political scientist currently with RAND, were “not evil or pernicious human beings.” Instead, Mazarr credits them with acting in response to a “moralistic sense of doing the right thing.” Viewed from that perspective, “the Iraq war decision was grounded in sacred values,” even if the evil and pernicious consequences of that decision continue to mount.

Want more? You can read the full article here

Founding Fathers

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Few Americans – or others for that matter – would argue that the American Revolution was one of the most iconic events of the last millennium. But we tend to have mixed feelings about the men (all men) at the center of the revolution.

That’s why I found Rick Atkinson’s recent piece, “Whey We Still Care About America’s Founders,” so compelling. Here is how he begins:

There’s a lot to dislike about the founding fathers and the war they and others fought for American independence.

The stirring assertion that “all men are created equal” did not, of course, apply to 500,000 black slaves — one in five of all souls occupying the 13 colonies when those words were written in 1776. Nor was it valid for Native Americans, women or indigents.

And yet, the creation story of America’s founding remains valid, vivid and exhilarating. At a time when national unity is elusive, when our partisan rancor seems ever more toxic, when the simple concept of truth is disputed, that story informs who we are, where we came from, what our forebears believed and — perhaps the profoundest question any people can ask themselves — what they were willing to die for.

What can we learn from that ancient quarrel? First, that this nation was born bickering; disputation is in the national genome. Second, that there are foundational truths that not only are indeed true, but also, as the Declaration of Independence insists, “self-evident.” Third, that leaders worthy of our enduring admiration rise to the occasion with acumen, grit, wisdom and grace. And fourth, that whatever trials befall us today, we have overcome greater perils.

There is a great deal more in his piece, which you can read at the link below, but if you are interested in the American Revolution, here are two books I highly recommend:

  • “1776” by David McCullough
  • “Six Frigates” by Ian Toll

Want more? You can read it here

Creative Juices

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Whether writing is a passion or a hobby or just an occasional urge, we all wonder how we can be more creative.

That’s why I was taken by this short piece in the New York Times, “How to Be Creative.” Here’s how the writer began:

You know how you’ve got this image of the creator as a somewhat crazy, slightly unbalanced person lost in his or her own head? I have great news. You are one, too! Everyone – adults and children alike – has a creative streak. But while most of us have a spirit of invention, major or minor, for too many of us it lies dormant even though it can be awakened with the simplest of acts. Follow these steps to find your inner writer, composer, finger painter, chef, lyricist, entrepreneur, filmmaker, comedian, politician or professional Tweeter.

It’s all about “giving permission.” Do it!

Want more? You can read it here

Richard Holbrooke

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Volumes have been written about the Cold War, America’s involvement in Vietnam, and other issues that have led to what has generally been called, “The End of the American Century.”

But much of this has focused on the history and not the participants. Until now. Walter Isaacson’s review of “Our Man” a new book by George Packer focuses on a man at the center of it, American diplomat, Richard Holbrooke, one of the most iconoclastic statesman of the last half-century. Here is how he begins:

Richard Holbrooke was a large man with gargantuan appetites — for food and women and movies and acclaim and, above all, diplomatic and undiplomatic maneuvering — appetites that struggled to feed an outsize ego that was matched only by his insecurities. As the last great freewheeling diplomat of the American Century, Holbrooke, with his turbocharged zeal and laughable lack of self-awareness, earned fervent admirers and fevered enemies, including a few longstanding colleagues who fell passionately and paradoxically into both camps. In fact, Holbrooke himself was caught in this duality of being his own most fervent admirer and worst enemy (although when someone once commented that he was his own worst enemy, a national security adviser he had worked with snapped, “not as long as I’m around”).

Want more? You can read it here

This Memorial Day let’s pause to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the freedoms we all hold so dear.

galdorisi memorial day

Too Busy?

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Full disclosure…I am busy. Really busy! Or am I? I always pine for some relaxation, but feeling the need to do one more thing usually overwhelms me.

That’s why I was drawn to a recent review of a book “How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy.” Here’s how it begins:

In 2015, Jenny Odell started an organization she called The Bureau of Suspended Objects. Odell was then an artist-in-residence at a waste operating station in San Francisco. As the sole employee of her bureau, she photographed things that had been thrown out and learned about their histories. (A bird-watcher, Odell is friendly with a pair of crows that sit outside her apartment window; given her talent for scavenging, you wonder whether they’ve shared tips.)

Odell’s first book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” echoes the approach she took with her bureau, creating a collage (or maybe it’s a compost heap) of ideas about detaching from life online, built out of scraps collected from artists, writers, critics and philosophers. In the book’s first chapter, she remarks that she finds things that already exist “infinitely more interesting than anything I could possibly make.” Then, summoning the ideas of others, she goes on to construct a complex, smart and ambitious book that at first reads like a self-help manual, then blossoms into a wide-ranging political manifesto.

Though trained as an artist, Odell has gradually become known for her writing. Her consistent theme is the invasion of the wider world by internet grotesqueries grown in the toxic slime of Amazon, Instagram and other social media platforms. She has a knack for evoking the malaise that comes from feeling surrounded by online things. Like many of us, she would like to get away from that feeling.

Odell suggests that she has done this, semi-successfully, by striking a stance of public refusal and by retraining her attention to focus on her surroundings. She argues that because the internet strips us of our sense of place and time, we can counter its force by resituating ourselves within our physical environment, by becoming closer to the natural world.

Want more? You can read the full article here