Happy Friday and Happy Holidays! Welcome to the S3T Edition for December 22, 2023.
In this special holiday edition, we'll share a perfect mix of need-to-know items to keep you informed and also help you be ready to enjoy your long Christmas Weekend. I hope you and your loved ones are all ready to savor the holiday season, relax and reflect.
We'll start with an Emerging Tech Update on an important new court ruling that is likely to set a precedent for how AI is governed and used. Then we'll share some insights about dialogue and relationships both at the family level - which is timely here in the holidays, as well as dialogue and relationships at the national and political level - which is also timely as we in the US enter a key election year.
In addition, we'll introduce you to an inspiring change leader, a holiday hit to add to your Christmas playlist, followed up with some Wassail recipes, and an outdoor activity for the whole family - The Annual Christmas Bird Count.
Thank you again for reading S3T and sharing its insights with others.
About the Cover Image:
Peace to All is a collaboration between a person (me) and an AI capability (ChatGPT 4+DALL-E). I attempted to prompt DALL-E to draw the entire scene as shown in the final cover image. DALL-E was unable to replicate a realistic northern lights display, and completely unable to render a peace symbol in an overhead perspective (seriously...the harder it tried the worse it got). So I modified the prompt to ask DALL-E simply to provide a wilderness scene with some tundra swans and an extra big sky. I then imported that DALL-E image into Sketchbook where I added in the atmospherics and the northern lights peace symbol by hand. Go here to see the entire process with screenshots that show the progressive versions generated by DALL-E.
Opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not reflect the official positions of companies or organizations those individuals may be affiliated with. Not financial advice. Authors or guests may hold assets discussed.
🤖️ Emerging Tech
Can an AI entity patent something it invented?
This week the UK Supreme Court ruled in the case of Thaler vs Comptroller-General of Patents that AI can NOT be an inventor for patent purposes. The ruling will likely set legal precedent in Europe and as well as other jurisdictions where patent law uses a "natural persons" clause allows only humans to apply for patents.
This appears likely to settle a long-running debate about whether AI agents could for example design drugs and then automatically apply for patents.
Try this prompt with ChatGPT and you'll see we aren't far off from this being a reality:
Provide a novel design for a drug that enables people to overcome fear of heights, documenting the design in proper format, then create patent application for this design.
Now, if you're wondering, why would we want an AI entity to get its own patents? Read on...
🐚️ AI as the new shell company
While the court ruling is a good step, the debate about whether AI can be an inventor has a deeper dimension that needs to be understood, and policy and legal frameworks need to be updated accordingly. Let's unpack:
If an AI entity can:
- invent, receive patents for inventions, then
- own and operate a company that runs those inventions, while
- paying dividends to anonymous shareholders,
this sets up a very dangerous mix of conditions where the rule of law loses its ability to hold anyone accountable for harm and illegal acts.
Is there any history of something similar being done? Yes, actually, but less automated:
Capital managers and corporate law specialists have mastered the skill of maximizing profits while minimizing personal accountability by using shell companies as disposable bearers of risk and liability. AI entities could feasibly enable a new generation of more empowered autonomous shell companies.
The same players who benefitted so much from the traditional shell company concept can be expected to aggressively explore the use of AI-powered autonomous entities as disposable bearers of liability and risk while protecting their ability to maximize profits from the activities of those autonomous entities.
This same risk may also be imposed by Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), particularly if powered by AI capabilities.
- Standford: Most pressing dangers of AI
- Oxford: Artificial Intelligence as a positive and negative factor in global risk
- ISACA: The Promise and Peril of the AI Revolution: Managing Risk
🎁️ How bout them Holidays
Family dialogue & relationships
Maybe your family is that perfect family in the Norman Rockwell paintings. You all root for the same sports team, vote the same way, and agree about everything, and there are no taboo topics.
If you don't belong to that perfect family, here's timely help for the holidays: 12 Tips for handling family scenarios that come up during the holidays: Unwanted questions, sensitive topics, poor behaviors, hey it happens. Brush up on the best ways to take care of yourself (and your loved ones) while increasing the chances of keeping the peace.
National level dialogue
Related, but on the bigger picture level: I encourage you all to read “When the NY Times Lost its Way.” The article, written by James Bennet who worked at the New York Times and then Atlantic, shares a cogent diagnosis of what is wrong with our national dialogue right now: we tell people what to think instead of helping them think for themselves. This applies equally to both sides of the political spectrum.
Couple reasons the article resonated with me:
- It validates the concerns many S3T members have about the isolated thinking that people on the left and right both get stuck in.
- It also proves the wisdom of those S3T members who intentionally engage people with different views.
While it may be tricky, its vital to engage with people who have different views. Engaging doesn't mean you have to agree. But if you ever hope to be influential, you want to understand how they arrived at their current beliefs - and what they are afraid will happen if they dare to think differently.
Speaking of engaging people with different views, the next section below features an inspiring example. This person engaged with individuals who had diametrically opposed - and hateful - viewpoints, and succeeded in convincing them to change.
🎹️ Holiday inspiration & music: Daryl Davis
Daryl Davis to me is an inspiring example of a change leader who has worked fearlessly to overcome prejudice. Through an unconventional way of reaching out and building trust, Daryl is believed to have been responsible for 200 people leaving the Klan.
Here is a recent interview with Daryl, done just ahead of the Maryland Folk Festival.
Sensible Ideas: Wassail for your holiday get-togethers
Bless the trees
They say if you like apple cider, you'll love Wassail. Wassail is a drink with a long history connected to the ancient winter celebration of Wassailing - blessing the orchards in the dead of winter with a celebration that included drinking, dancing, banging pots and pans to wake the trees (for a good harvest in the year to come). by pouring cider on the tree roots and in some versions, tying bread to the branches of the trees.
Make your own Wassail this Christmas!
- Here is a non-alcholic Wassail family recipe from Lauren Allen
- Cookie and Kate's Wassail recipe includes bourbon.
🐦️ Nature Notes: Christmas Bird Count
On Christmas Day 1900, Frank Chapman and 26 other conservationists did the first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) The idea was to promote conservation by counting, rather than hunting, birds. Now a favorite annual tradition and long-running program of the National Audubon Society, the CBC is celebrating over 120 years of community science involvement.
The Christmas Bird Count it is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers go outdoors over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. Read the full history here.
This year's CBC takes place between December 14, 2023 to January 5, 2024. Go here to join and be part of this tradition!
Final Note: Reflecting on what you did this year
I want to take a minute to say thank you, and be mindful of the intentional change leadership work and results you did this year.
Whatever corner of the world you were working in this year, if you were a regular reader of this newsletter, it mean that you were committing time to learning about change leadership, and focusing on how to bring intentional beneficial innovation. You were going above and beyond to increase your effectiveness so you could be ready to serve your customers and stakeholder needs in a more impactful way. This speaks highly of you, and of your future potential and impact.
You have very likely enabled positive results, benefits and impacts on individuals and groups who may never be able to thank you for what you did, but your work made a positive difference for them just the same. So I thank you for all that you have done this year.
Thank you also for reading and sharing S3T with others. It matters. The more we can equip and empower people to bring needed change - intentional beneficial change and innovation - the more we can make meaningful progress solving the key challenges of the 21st century. It means a lot to me to know that this matters to you. Thank you for what you are doing to bring needed change.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!