The week@work: digitizing common sense, Vatican women@work, Dee Rees on cinema and Radhika Jones on journalism

Since we’ve done so well with humans’ ability to demonstrate common sense, it follows that there would be an effort to teach machines ‘native intelligence’. This week@work we follow the efforts to digitize common sense, and explore the lives of women@work in the Vatican, cinema and journalism.

Common sensesound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence”. It’s one of those ‘must have’ components in a successful work/life portfolio. Cade Metz reports on Paul Allen’s endeavor to translate ‘native intelligence’ into ‘artificial intelligence’.

“A.I. “recognizes objects, but can’t explain what it sees. It can’t read a textbook and understand the questions in the back of the book,” said Oren Etzioni, a former University of Washington professor who oversees the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “It is devoid of common sense.”

Success may require years or even decades of work — if it comes at all. Others have tried to digitize common sense, and the task has always proved too large.”

Perhaps it’s impossible to duplicate what’s not totally present in the original.

The ‘random’ compensation of nuns

If you were raised Catholic or attended Catholic schools, you’ve probably been influenced by the women, ‘sisters’, who served as teachers, administrators and counselors. In a stunning report this week, in a monthly supplement to the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, these women confidentially shared the realities of their 24/7 workplace.

vatican nite.jpg“It is hard to evaluate the extent of the problem of the unpaid or badly paid work of these women religious which is in any case barely recognized…Yet it is not only a question of money. The matter of financial compensation constitutes rather the trees which hide the forest of a far greater problem: recognition of how matters stand. So many women religious have the feeling that much is being done to give new value to male vocations but that very little is being done to do the same for female vocations. “Unfortunately behind all this lies the idea that women are worth less than men and, especially, that the priest is all whereas the sister is nothing in the Church.”

“We are religious in order to serve to the very end and it is precisely this that causes a slippage in the subconscious of many people in the Church, creating the conviction that paying us does not fit into the natural order of things, whatever may be the service that we offer. The sisters are seen as voluntary workers to be made use of as desired which gives rise to real abuses of power. Behind all this lies the question of the professionalism and competence of women religious, which many people have a hard time recognizing”.

As we reflect on the ‘power’ relationships in film, politics and corporations, perhaps @TIMESUPNOW should broaden the tent to include folks who took a vow of poverty not realizing it meant losing their voice, being invisible.

Dee Rees delivers a tutorial on the art of cinema
On Saturday, writer-director Dee Rees was awarded the Robert Altman Award for her movie, Mudbound. She accepted with a speech that many industry insiders described as a cinematic manifesto. It’s a must read for anyone who considers themselves a film-maker.

DGWG0odUMAEyXHa.jpg“I know that as Independent Filmmakers, as the so-called Rebels, as the Outsiders creating without respect to means or access…

I know that we, of all makers, are far, far beyond any Identity Tokenism or Snobbery of Form 

In both production and distribution

Because we know that cinema lies not in

A strip of celluloid 

A length of magnetic tape

Nor across the blind plain of an image sensor 

No, we know that

Cinema lies in absorbing , electrifying Performances by committed actors 

That make audiences feel, that make them think, make them observe themselves and world around them in a more expansive way

Like Rob Morgan’s intelligent, deliberate, emotionally exquisite performance of Hap Jackson, a man whose capabilities, ambition and work ethic are continually undone by the ancient and overlapping systems of social and economic oppression that still exist today 

We know that cinema lies in the thoughtful and narrative Composition and Choreography of subject, movement, color, and light 

Like  Rachel Morrison’s compelling, sculptural,  humanistic photography that elevates reality into a visceral, highly textured symphony of feeling…”

(Full text and video at deadline.com)

Radhika Jones on culture, conformity and journalism
In November, Radhika Jones was introduced as the new editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, adding to her resume of experience at Time and The New York Times. March marks the first issue under her guidance and in her first editor’s letter she connects her background to storytelling and her new “responsibility to interrogate the culture’s most powerful players and hold them to account.”

edit-master768.jpg“There’s a movie coming out this month that I’ve been waiting all my life to see: A Wrinkle in Time, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy novel, which was published in 1962 but is only now receiving its first big-screen adaptation. There was almost no novel to adapt. Twenty-six publishers rejected L’Engle’s manuscript before John Farrar, of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, took it on. You can imagine how A Wrinkle in Time may have perplexed publishers. The plot hinges on shortcuts through the space-time continuum; it leavens its central fight against evil with amusing scenes involving midnight liverwurst sandwiches. But at its core L’Engle’s tale tackles a problem most people have to cope with sooner or later: how to be yourself in a world that prefers conformity.

I was born in New York City and grew up in Cincinnati. My first name, common enough in India, was unusual and often threw people off. I tried not to mind, though I secretly wished I were called Elizabeth. I grew up, grew into myself, became an editor, and learned the delights of helping writers shape their stories.

For those of us who care about storytelling, about influence, about soft and hard power, this is a singularly rich moment to be in journalism. I had my first, heady conversation about the editorship of Vanity Fair on September 20 of last year. Two weeks later, The New York Times published the first of its series of reports about Harvey Weinstein. Arguments that have simmered for years—about the importance of championing women, new voices, people who come from a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds—are finding an audience.”

And, one last storyMichael Cooper‘s profile of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the new music director of The Metropolitan Opera.011618_2330a.jpg

If binge watching ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ has prompted you to consider a career as maestro, spend 14 hours ‘shadowing’ the new conductor at the Met.

“If there is one thing Mr. Nézet-Séguin has been criticized for, it has been for taking on too much: He is also the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain in his native Montreal, and is wrapping up his final season with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. But earlier on Friday, as he headed back to conduct “Parsifal,” he had brushed off the suggestion that he was overstretched.

“Yes, I do have a high level of energy — that’s clear,” he said. “That’s maybe why I love New York. There is this kind of pace. But I am able, definitely, to also stop and do nothing.”

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ms. Jones – The New York Times, Mr. Nézet-Séguin – Rose Callahan Met Opera

The week@work – Davos, transition, transferable skills and a ‘profundo’ life

 

The headline of the week@work did not originate in Washington D.C., but in Davos, Switzerland: ‘Davos Elite Fret About Inequality Over Vintage Wine and Canapés’. “…globalization has reduced the bargaining power of workers, and corporations have taken advantage of it.”

In other news – January is often a month of transition, not just in government, but across all fields. Articles this week@work explored the value of being fired and finding the right ‘fit’ next time. Physicists are the new software engineers in Silicon Valley and PhDs just may be the newest entrepreneurs.

Finally, this week@work we remember Kevin Starr, who went to work every day as a historian chronicling the past of his home state, California. “I’ve always tried to write California history as American history.”

4096.jpgPeter S. Goodman covered the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum for The New York Times.

“What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

“That agenda is anathema to a lot of Davos men and women,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist and author of numerous books on globalization and economic inequality. “More rights to bargain for workers, that’s the part where Davos man is going to get stuck. The stark reality is that globalization has reduced the bargaining power of workers, and corporations have taken advantage of it. ”

That perhaps private equity overseers should not be paid 1,000 times as much as teachers while availing themselves of tax breaks is thinking that gets little airing here.”

1e97282770fb153b749b691b25832c03.jpgFor those of us not networking with the super elite in the Swiss Alps, Julie Ma compiled a sampling of quotes from ’25 Famous Women on How Getting Fired Makes You Stronger’.

“If you don’t get fired at least once, you’re not trying hard enough. This isn’t quite true yet, but it is becoming truer. As the pace of change in business increases, the chances of having a placid career are receding. And if in this period of rapid change, you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.” Sallie Krawcheck, chair Ellevate

“Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women — it’s hard, I know — they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.”
Jill Abramson, author and faculty @Harvard

IMG_8148.jpgMost folks leave their life @work because of the ‘human factor’: colleagues, leadership and values. Sharon Daniels offered advice to those starting the job search.

“If you have passion and enthusiasm, you’re on your way. People want to be around people who have passion and enthusiasm, because we all gravitate toward something greater than ourselves. If you do something wholeheartedly versus halfheartedly, it’s going to have a completely different effect.”

Cade Metz reported on how transferable skills are changing the profile of some tech workers, ‘Move Over, Coders—Physicists Will Soon Rule Silicon Valley’.

“If physics and software engineering were subatomic particles, Silicon Valley has turned into the place where the fields collide…It’s not on purpose, exactly. “We didn’t go into the physics kindergarten and steal a basket of children,” says Stripe president and co-founder John Collison. “It just happened.” And it’s happening across Silicon Valley. Because structurally and technologically, the things that just about every internet company needs to do are more and more suited to the skill set of a physicist.”

Ainsley O’Connell described another experiment in skill transference, ‘Can Entrepreneurship Revive The Troubled PhD?’

“PhD students once dreamed of lifelong tenure, generous sabbaticals, and a closet full of jackets with elbow patches. Academic life, with its dusty-booked charm, ruled the day. No longer. Even in STEM fields, roughly 40% of PhDs are graduating without employment commitments. Could the solution be teaching postdocs to create their own jobs, as entrepreneurs?

In the heart of Manhattan, in a set of conference rooms on loan from Google, one radical experiment in postdoc entrepreneurship is now entering its fourth year. Called “Runway” and managed by Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, the program bills itself as “part business school, part research institution, part startup incubator.” Since its founding, Runway postdocs have founded 13 companies, from an intelligent baby monitor to an urban planning analytics platform, and collectively raised $15 million in funding.”

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Finally, this week@work, we remember Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian, professor and author of an eight-volume history of his home state ‘Americans and the California Dream’.

Colleague William Deverell remembered the historian and author as ‘A Golden State Champion’.

“I knew Kevin Starr only as profundo. He was big, his voice was big, his persona was big, his books are big, his ideas are big, his influence is big. Some, and only some, of this has now been silenced by his death Saturday. Kevin’s outsize impact and his sheer significance to both our regional and our national culture, will continue long hence. Death has robbed us of the most important guide we have ever had to our state’s history and culture, our ingenious interpreter of the elusive and many meanings of the California Dream over several centuries.”