To be informed is to know simply that something is the case.
To be enlightened is to know, in addition, what it is all about.

Mortimer Adler

Database management ... a few years ago

My database textbook from about 1980 was Principles of Database Management by James Martin. Copyright was 1976 and updated in 1989. I'm sure that there were tremendous changes in those 13 years. At lease I saw major changes in the availability of database systems (relational) for PC's. Product such as dBase, MetaFile, and FoxPro blasted off in the 1980's.

James Martin was more than prolific, writing over 100 books in his lifetime.

The "classics" and history of AI

I had the opportunity to read this at Arizona State back in the mid 1990s. Reading from the 1950s and 1960s was a good reminder that technology has been on a march of change and progress for many many years.

Some of my reading included

  • Marvin Minsky
  • Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon

Predictions stick because of the year made - for example:

  • 1965 machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do by Herbert Simon
  • 1967' within a generation the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will be substantially solved. by Marvin Minsky
  • Of course Wikipedia has a great history of the subject.

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IT ... philosophy ... robots ... etc.

The accounting and auditing profession are engaging in an almost frantic search for meaning in the changing world. This is demonstrated in an urgent tone declaring that everything is "suddenly" all about Robot Process Automation and Data Analytics. Of course the reality is that both of these topics have been underway for many many years. The technology curve and capabilities are hitting that dramatic inflection point of heading straight up. BUT where was the long term planning vs this current cry for change?

Looking at writings of James Martin reminds me of some of the science fiction and writings of futurists that have looked at the relationship between humans and technology. For example:

  • The Wired Society by James Martin (1977)
  • and more recently by James Martin, The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring Our Future (2006)
  • This genre of humans / computers covers lots of territory. The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
  • A positive view, generally, of how this all works is The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, And Prosperity In A Time Of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew Mcafee (2014)
  • Machine learning is already present in many different aspects of our lives. Take a deep dive in with Pedro Domingos in The Master Algorithm: How The Quest For The Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World
  • Darker side views seem to get published frequently and have titles that reach out and grab your attention. Good marketing!
  • What about specific jobs? Richard and Daniel Susskind, The Future of the Professions- How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, predict the decline of today's professions such as teaching and accountants (fits me!)

New and Changed:


    The pessimist complains about the wind;
    the optimist expects it to change;
    the realist adjusts the sails.”

    'William Arthur Ward''

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