Is It Real or Is It Memorex?

That was a popular ad phrase in the mid-80s. It referenced the quality of the digital recording on cassette tapes. (Pre-CDs and pre-streaming.) Given the devolution of social media in the past few years, these days we ask, “Is it real, or is it AI?”

I got this cute and thought provoking website from a PR agency. I told her it looked as if people were not all that observant. But, that would have been unfair to people. Some images were impossible to tell. Try it and let me know. Then think before you leap on stuff you see on social media.

As Artificial Intelligence is one of the latest trends that advances so rapidly, we decided to conduct the experiment to see if internet users are able to recognize photos, artworks, music, and texts created by AI.

I believe these results will be fascinating and shocking also for your readers! Here you can find the whole data-based article: 

Can you tell the difference between human and AI?

The significant findings of our Human vs. AI Test were surprising: 

  • In some survey groups, as many as 87% of respondents mistook an AI-generated image for a real photo of a person. 
  • Two-thirds of people who think they would recognize a chatbot struggle with identifying AI-generated texts. 
  • About 24% of male and only 17% of female respondents made less than 3 mistakes when judging photos. 
  • Interestingly, more than 37% of respondents who declared as non-binary made less than 3 mistakes when judging photos (out of 7 examples).
  • The most crucial factor in the test score was familiarity with AI technology.

Successful People

This is my 2,500th post. I began this blog in 2003 as an experiment with a new form using one of the original blogging platforms, developed by Dave Winer, called Radio Userland. The blog was Gary Mintchell’s Radio Weblog. The sales people at Automation World wanted to capitalize somehow, and I changed the name to reflect my monthly column called FeedForward. When the market started to change and the magazine, too, I went digital only and changed the name to the present The Manufacturing Connection.

Topics have changed over time. I’m still interested in technology and people development. But many things have changed. There’s not so much control and automation anymore. Most of the tech news I come up with is software and Internet of Things. In other words, connections and data handling. Back then, leadership and productivity (Getting Things Done) were important topics. Writing about leadership now is everywhere with not much useful being added. GTD is still important, but writing about it became redundant.

I thought I’d pass along a thought I found some time ago showing the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people.

  • Successful people:
  • Read every day
  • Compliment
  • Embrace Change
  • Forgive others
  • Talk about ideas
  • Continuously learn
  • Accept responsibility for their failures
  • Have a sense of gratitude
  • Set goals and develop life plans
  • Unsuccessful people:
  • Watch TV every day
  • Criticize
  • Fear change
  • Hold a grudge
  • Talk about people
  • Think they know it all
  • Blame others for their failures
  • Have a sense of entitlement
  • Never set goals

Strive for the best and go make a difference.

Book Shows The Many Reasons Students Should Consider Smart Manufacturing Career

I’ve been acquainted with Mike Nager for many years through business. We ran into each other a few years ago when he had switched from product management to leading the education team for an automation supplier.

He sent a copy of a book he’s just published for Kindle, The Smart Student’s Guide To Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0. It’s a subject I’m deeply interested in, so I checked it out.

I rate this book highly because the author accomplishes what he set out to do–“This book will introduce you to exciting career opportunities that smart manufacturing provides today.”

He continues, “Manufacturing output, which is essentially the amount of goods made in America, rises every year. The U.S. now produces more products than at any other time in history. Smart Manufacturing, also referred to as Industry 4.0, is starting to shake up the previous worldwide business model of off-shoring manufacturing operations to areas with low labor rates by making labor rates less relevant. You have an opportunity to join the industry as it reinvents itself.”

It reminds me of books given to me to read when I was in high school to entice me into an engineering career. It is understandably basic, but it is also inclusive. There is so much more to manufacturing and engineering than when I was making that decision. And Nager covers all the facets from highly educated process engineers to skilled technicians. And how to get there.

Half of the book is devoted to persuading students about the importance of manufacturing–both to the country’s defense and to the economic health of the area and country. Becoming an important part of manufacturing is not only a great career for the student, it also enables the student to be a contributing member of society. The remaining part discusses the wide variety of engineering and technical areas a student could choose from according to their interests and talents.

Nager covers technologies involved including hardware products and software concluding with a review of the so-called “soft skills” such as leadership that are essential to success no matter what the career path.

Get this book, order many. Pass them along to every junior high and high school student you know who could even remotely be interested in a manufacturing career.

Preparing for 2021

Welcome to 2021. 

What we call things does not affect the thing. It surely affects us, though. Just having a new name for the year benefits our state of mind.

Some thoughts of preparing ourselves for the new year. This will certainly be a year of change from 2020. I don’t predict or prognosticate, but I do think that we’ll see a change in the pandemic for the better. Probably the change will happen before we realize it. Hopefully the vaccine helps.

I shun New Year’s Resolutions. I bet yours are already broken 😉 . I do reflect on the past year–changes, successes, changeable mistakes. Mostly I look at subtle changes that help see become a better human. I’ll try a few out on you.

Eating

Did you pick up the dreaded “Covid 15”? That is, 15 excess pounds–or more? 

Start being the kind of person who naturally and normally eats a little less for each meal. Energy-boosting snacks become almonds, peanuts, apple slices, and the like. I buy little packets of green olives from Thrive Market and keep some around for a snack. Save sweets, salty processed snacks, and colas for “cheat day” if at all. Some people allow a cheat day once per week. Usually it is Saturday, dubbed “Faturday”. Drop sodas, both sweetened and “diet”, from your shopping list and clean out the refrigerator.

Follow Michael Pollan’s advice from Food Rules: An Eater’s Guide:

  • Eat food;
  • Not too much;
  • Mostly plants.

Exercise

If you haven’t already, start moving. Be the sort of person who walks more or takes up jogging or running. Of course, exercise within the bounds set by your physician. But most of us can walk briskly. Make 30-60 minutes a day part of the daily routine. If your body is up to it, throw in a few sprints a few times per week for a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout. That helped me lose a few pounds.

Buy some dumbbells and check out some YouTube instructors. I use lighter weights for a couple of shoulder exercises and curls and extensions for the biceps/triceps. Then heavier weights for standing rows and squats. Throw in some bench pushups and 30 minutes of Yoga stretches and ab work. 45-minutes to an hour three times a week in your bedroom (assuming the gym is still on limited availability) will work wonders.

Mental

Pick up a good book and read it. Be the type of person who expands and strengthens their mind. Take notes so that you think about it. I read a variety. Lately I’ve been reading memoirs of successful women–Madeline Albright, Kara Goldin (Hint Water). I’m reading Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday right now. Just finished How the South Won the Civil War by Heather Cox Richardson–a well written history of the US. Also 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin. That was within the past couple of weeks. (Note: all links are to bookshop.org which supports local independent book stores, I don’t have an affiliate account.)

Spiritual

Feed your spirit with appropriate reading. I usually suggest January as a time to read the Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible. (Old Testament to most Christians) There are 31 chapters. Do a chapter a day for a month. Or perhaps the Christian book of James (another Wisdom writer). This year, I am reading an ancient Wisdom teacher from a different tradition–Tao Te Ching and Hua Hu Ching. It’s good to see how alike we all are in our pursuit of spiritual growth and peace. I mean all cultures and all epochs. From 5,000 years ago to current Wisdom literature, there is a steady current.

Stop, pause your busyness. Meditate and pray at least once per day. Maybe twice–morning and evening. Do this and after several months people will probably comment about how calm you have become. Trust me. That has been true for me. If you think this is too “foo-foo” for a manager or engineer, then I suggest the Dan Harris book (above). That is the story of a driven network news person who learned to slow down and probably saved his life in the process. Oh, while still excelling as a network news host and reporter.

Peace to you all for 2021.

Do Standup Meetings Inhibit Innovation?

Blog Stand Ups Inhibit Innovation

Andy Wu of Harvard Business School and his doctoral student Sourobh Ghosh embedded a field experiment in a Google hackathon to investigate the impact of stand-up meetings—a core component of agile management practices—on innovation. They found that the teams that engaged in them developed less-novel products. The conclusion: Stand-up meetings inhibit innovation.

This thought was quoted in a blog post by an acquaintance in Belgium, Yves Mulkers, whom I had met on a trip to Germany several years ago. His Website/business is 7wData.

Those of us with familiarity with Lean thinking know the standup as a daily first thing information and daily goal-setting time. You “stand up” to keep the meeting a short as possible, but no shorter. The standup is conducted where the action is. When people gather in conference rooms in the morning, they have their coffee or tea, a doughnut, and settle into their chairs. A 30-minute catch up time can become a 60-minute waste of time.

I am slightly familiar with the various software development organizing hacks. But this one seems to me to be applying the wrong tool for the purpose. There is a time to sit and have an intense discussion with coffee or Hint water or whatever. There is a time to do a standup in order to maintain focus and get done. 

Innovation does not come from committees or meetings. People need time to think on their own to come up with ideas. I insist on the 20-Things method. Sit alone with your coffee and a blank pad of paper and a pen. Put your topic or question at the top. Then quickly start listing possible solutions. By item 20, you should have evolved the idea completely away from where you started and come to a satisfying conclusion.

And when you are doing research, don’t make an observation and then just jump to a broad conclusion. Step back and take a different view. Maybe additional insights will come to you.

20 Ways Handwriting Helps

Note taking with pen and paper helps me remember interviews better than typing them. Journals filled with notes from reading and thinking occupy a spot on my bookcase by my desk. My typing speed is very fast forcing increased thinking speed. But that is not necessarily a good thing. By writing outlines and thoughts, my mind slows causing more reflection and deeper thinking.

When I was editor of a magazine, I would take a pad of paper and a pen and place it on the counter beside my coffee and breakfast oatmeal. I’d put a question or problem at the top of the page—say theme of an issue or title of an article—and then I’d write by hand a series of thoughts about the topic. The goal was 20 items. Usually by 10, my thinking was becoming more creative, less rote.

My notebooks are sometimes a Moleskin purchased at an independent bookstore. For the past couple of years, I’ve written for free on notebooks secured from conferences I’ve attended. I find the 5” x 8” size to be best. Smaller is only good for your pocket on walks. Larger I find awkward to carry around. I use a Uniball Signo Micro 207 pen. I used to be a fountain pen fanatic, but the quality of what I was buying just wasn’t up to the task. These Uniball pens are inexpensive, but the writing is consistent and even enjoyable.

I’ve written about this before. A company noticed and sent me a link to an infographic. Check it out.