Guy Cicero

through a culture, darkly

  • AI


    I remember when AI (ah-ee) was a South America, three-toed sloth, and a word that would save your bacon in Scrabble. AI (ay-i) today has been delivered onto the scene after a 75-year gestation period, the offspring of massive-scale computing starting with ENIAC and a gene pool loaded with brainiacs. What will it grow up…

  • Natural language

    Natural language

    Maybe you’ve heard this one. Back in the 1950s a computer scientist was challenged to test the ability of his mainframe computer to translate from English to Russian and back again. Using punch cards, he submitted this phrase to the computer, “The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak,” derived from Matthew 26:41 in…

  • How the internet changed everything

    How the internet changed everything

    I believe that it will take decades, maybe generations, before the world – whatever it may look like then – will really understand how the internet changed everything and what those changes meant for the actual lives of actual people. And, how to live the kind of life everyone wants with the internet as the…

  • A Gentleman in Moscow

    A Gentleman in Moscow

    Other five-star reviewers have said most everything I might say. I did not want A Gentleman in Moscow to end and will make the rare move (for me) of reading it again, this time for the Kindle so that I can save my favorite references and passages. I was almost entirely taken in by the…

  • First Principles: A Book Review

    First Principles: A Book Review

    I had very high hopes for this book because I love reading American history and because I can’t help from trying to synthesize what I understand actually happened with contemporary thinking and philosophies. But this book was a big disappointment. It failed completely in gaining any useful insight into the minds of the Founders. I…

  • Georgia on my mind

    Georgia on my mind

    For months prior to the election, I thought if only the minorities will just vote, we’ll be alright. You can’t just ignore demographics forever. The white majority has been barreling toward minority status for years—decades actually. Sooner or later, the new majority will make its presence felt. Things will change. Everybody, even white people, will…

  • Across the great divide

    Across the great divide

    Here’s another vote for the idea that the Democrats must actively address the felt needs of rural America and rural voters–the ones across the great divide. My limited travels in 2020 took us twice into rural counties in Illinois and Wisconsin. It has been 50 years, wow, since I saw rural Illinois “downstate” up close.…

  • Forward foreword

    A word as we embark on the good ship Joe. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to any single event more than I do the January 20, 2021 presidential inauguration. There’s just so much that needs doing. After dealing a death blow to the COVID-19 pandemic, there aren’t any policy areas more…

  • History immunity

    History immunity

    We hear a lot about immunity these days. Or not immunity. My subject here is our tendency to act as though we are immune to history. We happily cling to historical events, documents, and persons, I guess because they are the building blocks of our personal mythology, answering, for us alone, the big question “how…

  • disaster du jour

    Learned during the COVID-19 crisis: We should have known better. Over many years, I have gradually become aware of the utter avoidability of some of the great worldwide disasters: the World Wars, oil spills and other environmental catastrophes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.