In a recent group meeting, we watched John Boccuzzi’s TED Talk on the power of the customer experience in getting people on board. It told the story of purchasing a set of glasses and the service that was provided. This was all validated through the responses of strangers who complemented the man on the purchase. The premise was that experience of service and support matters.

I totally agree with this, but the problem is that not everyone can ‘sell glasses’ and sometimes children do not want to eat their vegetables, no matter how many crazy faces you make for them on their plate. It sometimes feels we look for such ‘solutions’ so that we have something to justify why we might have failed or where we could improve next time. The problem is that sometimes ‘the experience’ is somewhat arbitrary. No matter how nice your tone is or how you smile, if you are selling ice to Eskimos then you will always be up against it.

I took my daughter’s to the city twice this weekend. In part it was to celebrate (or mourn) the end of the school holidays – ironically, I have been back for two weeks. But it was also to give my wife space and time to get her Masters work done. I often take the girls into the city, but this time was different as the youngest was without nappies and a stroller.

This should be a joyous occasion. No more changing bums or pushing the stroller. However, there was a part of me that felt somehow out of whack. These habits have become a part of my everyday life. Like all habits, I am happy to change when needed and often push myself to do so, but the connection with identity is an odd one. A colleague recently highlighted this when she asked whether persisting with certain routines involving others was in fact for me. Although I don’t think I persisted with nappies etc for my own sake, it does leave me thinking.

I am currently churning my way through A Handmaid’s Tale. One of the things that I am left wondering is who decided on all the technological solutions? Whether it be the cattle prods or severing arms, we do not get insight into the thinking behind such decisions, Gideon’s Josef Mengele.

This is one of the things about technology, whether good or bad. So much of the work that goes into managing and understanding it is assumed. It is incorporated into everyday life, magically maintained by modern day magicians. The challenge we all have is to stop every now and then to pull back the curtain and reflect upon the biases and intent really at play.a

I am currently read (or listening to be correct) to Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway. What interests me is the idea of the future. There are many aspects of the novel that seem far beyond today, yet at the same time there is an uncanny plausibility that haunts the whole time.

I think this experience is no different to other novels set in the future as well as the fast:

The books challenge us how we live without telling us how to live.

I have lost count the amount of times that the art of making a sandwich has been used as the ultimate example of human algorithms. Although I agree it can be useful, I do not think that it provides the nuance for appreciating machine learning. For me this comes in the form of music.

I love listening to music with my daughters. One minute it might be a Disney classic, the next some pop song off the radio. What interests me is when I introduce something new to see the response. Each decision influences the next choice. This rather than sandwiches captures the challenges and complexities associated with ‘algorithms’ and ‘machine learning’.