Over a 30 - 45 year career, most everyone gets relieved of their
position. Sometime it is sudden, other times there are indicators
that some positions will be severed and still other times we are
faced with a choice to stay or leave.
Let me pose that it should be part of our regular personal planning
process that we consider building resilience into our thinking. Create
your personal action plan, keep your options open and know what
your personal goals, musts and wants are.
As much as possible plan so that it is not a total surprise.
contributed a piece offering things to do if you lose
your position. I cannot agree with her more on
1. don’t lose your “cool”, stay calm and manage your emotions
2. personally ask for recommendations from specific individuals
(If someone hesitates at all, or will not provide a good one, move
2a. these days more and more Linkedin recommendations can be
a useful starter in situations where policies limit employees from
3. You should be continually active in your professional network,
also ask references for their network contacts and ideas.
I found Umoh’s thoughts about cleaning up your facebook, online
profiles and photos and comments something that might be easily
Formulate a modifiable plan of action that includes push
, situations where you you meet people
in person and volunteer roles in professional organizations.
Taking shorter term, temporary roles may be a big plus, while
you enroll for unemployment benefits and update your master
resume, targeted resumes for each position and Linkedin
profiles using current keywords for your industry and field.
Consider asking for outplacement services as part of your
that you have signed.
Your circumstances are different than most everyone else’s.
However, we can learn from other professionals’ approaches
if we have a mind to it– that is remain curious, or make up
our minds to be curious.
I can not tell you how beneficial it is to be generous and
thoughtful to people who serve you. They may work for you
individually or be part of an organization. Took time to drive
with our daughter to do some quick shopping where each of
us had our own shopping lists. I watched as she hustled to
put items in our basket, but could not find “just” what I wanted.
Thought to myself, we could find a premium item as a takeout
from a suitable restaurant. So we stopped and purchased the
delectable salad for 2. While waiting we got into a idle time
conversation with the server. We asked if we might get a “short”
cup of coffee while waiting and she cooperatively brought it out
as we continued our conversation. So, as we paid our bill we
asked if we could write a thank you note to management for her
kind and thoughtful service. She did not exactly know, as she
was a summer hire…. She brought out her manager who informed
us how to perform the act online with detailed instructions. Then,
went on to say by doing this in a specific order, she would be
rewarded, he would be rewarded and we would receive a modest
gift certificate online.
Back in our ride home, we chatted about learning from others’
behaviors is such an adult way of developing and improving skills…
especially in an entrepreneurial world.
We used three of Travis Bradberry’s
9 Skills that pay dividends:
asking for help, staying positive and taking initiative. Six other items
knowing yourself (personal self assessment),
know how to say “no”,
knowing to pause and remain quiet, and
determining priorities to do the most important things.
These apply critically to entrepreneurs who either have too much time
on their hands or too little time.
an episodic income stream need to be mindful of:
a. formulate an exit strategy that propels your next direction– musts
and wants for yourself and your current employer as a win-win outcome
b. accumulate reserves and strategize how you can live lean should
events require ‘belt tightening’
c. Set up long term retirement, big purchase, and emergency insurance
accounts and make the necessary contributions (insure matching
contributions can happen and are accessible)
d. Know the rules and double check on the amounts about estimated
taxes. Use an accountant if you are new. Perhaps fall back on
Turbotax, if you have some experience.
e. Read the fine print, consult legal input on the fine print of signed
agreements and understand their implications and recourses.
One of the subtopics we cover in our Professional
Development course is LCA or Life Cycle Assessment
in our class on ethics.
This is a broad impact area that leading organizations have
adopted for processes, final products, side reactions and
Recently, a committed network
colleague, John Warner,
shared a pertinent article in Chemistry World
“better design of pharmaceuticals” that do no harm to the
environment when disposed. The article cites:
- birth control and antidepressant drugs persisting in our clean
water supply impact dependent animal life
- certain drugs remain present and active in vegetable irrigation
supplies and are found in consumable purchases (wash all food
As a result, certain first world countries have implemented extra
cleaning steps to scrub water before it enters water supplies.
The article, however addresses an alternate approach I know
John has been pursuing for over 30 years and is gaining more
supporters… designing active molecules to decompose when
Yesterday’s first year graduate student seminar involved
a pre-class homework assignment.
Since the group was large, eleven of the 16 preference
types were represented. That meant that there were a
variety of learning styles in the seminar.
The larger group size meant that we could not go into
detail into each individual preference class.
We did reveal how preferences can influence us in both
subtle and explicit ways by asking each individual their
name and whether they were left or right handed and
whether they liked cats or dogs. These are preferences
that are genetic and influenced by our early life
experiences… much the same as MBTI.
To maximize the experience we had each person
sit with their own similar preference groups and
complete and compare a Values
and a Behaviors
They learned that despite similar MBTI profiles their
values and behaviors revealed different trends and
these are also important to learn in working in teams.
The second half of the seminar involved two
exercises– one involved discussing projects which
troubled several since they had to come up with their
own project and a physical constructing project where
they had to describe their result.
-In the first, one outstanding group had an individual
take leadership and point out how each person, by
name, would contribute to the expected outcome.
-In the second we had a group presenter relate a
story to describe their constructed model she asked
for a volunteer to participate in a short role play and
provided a reward for the participant.
In short, they learned about themselves, about
working together in teams and how to interact
with others and develop a baseline for continuing
learning about themselves– this session was not
over at the end, but a beginning.
Jennings Taylor and Maria Inman apply a ‘technologist
lens’ to patent law that is useful for learning about
Two articles offer
1- What intellectual property entails and the concepts
involved in patent examination
They frame what intellectual property is by a clearly
logical figure comparing physical property ownership
Owner <—————-> Inventor/Assignee
Sell/Purchase <——–> Sell/Acquire
Charge/Rent<———-> Charge License Fee
Pay Taxes <————> Pay Maintenance Fees
Repossessed <——–> Abandoned
Trespass <————-> Infringe
Mortgage <————> Loan/ Financing
Deed <——-> Claims descriptions and specifications
Survey/ title search <-> Examination/ prior art search
The article describes a patent application examination that
involves a prior art search of knowledge and expertise in
the public domain and compares the claims of the
application to determine if there is overlap.
offers the right of a patent (and property owner) and
motivation of the patenting process, which is to promote
progress. [p. 45-46 in hard copy journal]
The third article coming out in the fall addresses how to
overcome legal aspects of rejection. [A comment will
be inserted when it comes out in press.]
These article will be included in future course sections
on Patents and should be included in ACS Pflags
How are you doing? I would like to ask if you have any
experience using electronic labbooks in an R&D lab?
and if there is any in particular you could recommend.
Thank you for any advice you can provide.
When I regularly attended several large conferences I tried
to look into this emerging field by speaking with vendors about
their market penetration and features for different user
Interestingly my deepest learning at this time involved
ensuring legal advice was following in purchasing, training,
and compliance. Maintenance and regular updates for eLN were
essential as this is a emerging and evolving field. Years have
past and eLN are essential tools.
- at least 16 countries are represented as vendor developers
- open source vendors are included in the list
: Different fields and operations will have different requirements
It is nice to have a big picture for what customers, users, legal and
regulatory applications are provided.
- basic functionality
- quality, security and compliance
- data management
eLN decision makin
- The system needs to organize and be able to tag, filter and search entries.
- all entries, imported data, and links can be exported to a generic format
(pdf, zip, xlm, etc.) for backup and reporting as well as allowing a bailout
in case the maker of the software stops development, or your funds to pay
for licence fees run dry.
- support of your IT department at an early stage (selection of particular eLN).
- hidden costs (hardware like server, backup; on-site support and user training, )
What are your customers using? How frequent are updates?
What are the computer requirements and robustness of the system?
These days, eLN are essential to compete
What do we do when we face a major risk or possible
catastrophe? It is not something that normally comes up
in any but exceptional situations and is the “elephant in the
room.” That is, is not spoken about.
Here are some thoughts to ponder. A following comment
lists some situations and Casandras from Clarke and Eddy’s
book that is good reading, especially if you are interested in
cyber-security, global warming, CRISPR technology and
nuclear weapons and disarmament.
: Sentinel intelligence experts
who sense something
catastrophic before anyone else does, before disaster happens
Whistleblower: popularized by Ralph Nader for informing about
illegal or unethical actions picking up on a much earlier term used to
alert the public about a commission of a crime or a breaking of rules.
Whistleblowers are motivated to do their reporting or announcing by
wanting to do the right thing, or to make right a decision that went
Large federal agencies record whistleblower complaints and are
able to substantiate only a small fraction. Because of the limited
confirmation rate and going against the culture or leadership or actions
of an organization, whistleblowers have a generally poor reputation.
So despite positive ethical motivations we may have going into a
situation, it does not always work out for the best.
concept of warning where an individual strongly feels certain
decisions should be made or certain situations should be avoided.
In Warnings: Finding Cassandras to stop catastrophes they assert
the Greek concept of Cassandra. Cassandra was graced by the
gods to be able to predict the future however cursed with the
response that no one believed or listened to her predictions.
A dozen past and current case studies were discussed in some detail
in a format that provided a view of classifying four features of each
case. They were: (1)nature of the threat or risk,
(2)is the person who needs to act known, knowledgeable, able to sort out
conflicting data and biases,
(3)is the predictor, or Cassandra, well-trained, highly creditable, respected
and confident in their findings and conclusions,
(4)what do the critics rely on and assert about the threat’s imminence.
While preparing for a seminar on Overcoming Challenges and
Adversity, several items are worth highlighting for our blog.
book by the same authors, 2012]
The original idea [for this seminar topic] resulted from
this year’s class suggestion and a seminar by
Think about it. 100 years ago people lived, on average, to
48 years, whereas now it is beyond 78. The length and nature
of careers has and continues to change this life span and equally
important our values and goals.
People seek much more control over their career paths, seek
personal satisfaction [over organizational], pursue advancement
[over organizational commitment] and realize multiple careers.
The seminar will discuss how we need to encourage
- adapting to adversity
and challenges by seeing them as
opportunities to learn useful skills
- developing critical habits, including listening
effectively managing technological tools.
After our formal technical training, which may be experiential,
[non-academic] but most often involves the academic realm–
BS, MS, PhD and post-doc, many in government, industry and
entrepreneurial career paths find business certification a very
positive growth dimension.
This can happen when we choose to continue formal academic
work with an MBA or 13-week MBA certification. When we
explore this option we find 2-year and 3-year MBAs where the
longer term allows developing specialization skills. The 13-week
in-residence programs had prerequisites of solid business experience
and tighter admission and stronger longer term career commitment
from a sponsoring organization.
One clear strength of the MBA programs is the networking, both
formal, through the university, and informal, through connections
and associations (alumna, alumni).
In the 1980s formal business certification programs were developed
in parallel to MBA programs. These should be of interest to many
people since they may be more specific to certain aspects and
more broadly respected as providing necessary background and
organization useful in certain fields. These are the PMP Project
Management Professional and Six Sigma “Belt” programs.
I am surprised that ACS has not incorporated both of these in
career continuous education plans.
Six Sigma asks about understanding customer requirements and
mapping a process to identify and measure defects, losses and waste
using statistical methods, measurement systems and data analysis.
The training in each seem to differ and it is worth noting PMP
An objective comparison of PMP and Six Sigma appears in this chart
Recently a colleague reported his experiences he observed
during his job search. It points out the importance of networking
 , doing After Action Reviews, knowing that you can build your
career by taking related positions, where you learn and practice
applicable skills productively. After all, a career is a process of
growth combined with continuous learning.
applied online and got a personal contact of mine to forward my resume
to the hiring team…he felt comfortable to refer me.
it was too late, they had already considered a candidate.
This year they contacted me. So as you have so many times emphasized,
networking is key to getting one’s resume noticed.
Career is a Process:
A senior level manager:
- Asked about my industry experience and was probing about my interests,
strengths and ability to work in a team. We really clicked in the interview.
It was a pleasant conversation about various aspects of manufacturing, QA,
QC , work ethics, and honesty. he was very pleased that I was familiar with
Quality Management System. I felt we were already colleagues in the interview.
Among questions asked:
- what I do not like, and what I like.
- given a situation what do I prefer: perfect and late, good and on time, or quick
and early…something like that. I elaborated on each as it all depends according
to me. For example, I recall saying it depends on how critical it is. In a situation
where you are looking at an API, it is critical to be within the acceptance
criteria/specifications, better be late but safe. But for a report, as long as all
the important information are there, I won’t delay it for perfection. I recall also
talking about how in a team, different people have their own preferences - in
terms of how to present a table. I personally don’t like to delay output for these
things (as long as it is not wrong).
Another Interviewer/non-technical manager:
- were able to relate a little as I had previous experience in the finance
department when i was in accounting.
- ended up in a conversation about the market, competitive advantage, pains
of month/year/quarter ends.
- Talked about SAP and Oracle.
- He actually appreciated that I knew about science and financial side of the
After Action Review:
- if I run into a situation like that again, I should transition my mindset into a
“sales pitch”- meaning, I should do the best I can to use facts from my
experience to support each criteria they are looking for.
- asked to visit the lab and areas of interests. I found it odd they did not propose.
Herbert Simon is credited with recognizing that in a
data rich world what is critical is managing audience
attention. Combined with the attitude that audiences
prefer A I D A, the digital media promoters code…
we lose our focus, disturb our direction and slow our progress.
Leaders of the digital and media organizations realize this
and take advantage of the uninformed. It is critical that
technical professionals understand this and improve the
way we manage ourselves, our colleagues and teams.
The technical world including the chemical enterprises is
dominated by the “attention economy.” Earlier this blog posted
prescribes actions we can take to contain the outside influences
that digital media and devices introduce in his web site:
managing our attention and careers.
We have brought up Mlodinow’s book, Subliminal, that offers
that human’s memory faculties are faulty. One suggestion is to
create a research notebook for yourself– it could be new business
ideas, new research projects, new and improved products…
We cannot sit still in this fast evolving world. We have minimal
memory resources, until computers evolved, and we can easily
store ideas, links and lists.
This entry offers two trends worth noting that you may incorporate,
even if you are not currently engaged in fields. Things are bothchanging and unpredictable
and it helps to try to be open-minded
both to new directions and opportunities.
DRUG DISTRIBUTION: MALDI-MSI
offered an keen review of an approach yielding new
insights into risk assessment of pharma candidates . Matrix-
assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectral imaging is
used to visualize where in samples chemicals and metabolites
are distributed in model system sections.
Cornett indicates that this tool might be required to
inform decisions on regulatory submissions, as it offers
deeper understanding of pharmacology and toxicology.
NOVEL CHEMISTRY: COMMERCE
Novel chemistry is found in patent literature, chemical journals
and offered by custom chemical firms. If it were one and
done, it would not be so special.
The idea is to open up our resource notebook to various inputs
for continuous learning.
So often articles and blog entries talk about hiring trends
for recent graduates. When I peruse them, it seems most
are either anecdotal (few specific examples highlighting
certain concepts) or statistical summaries that are often time
a year or more earlier than the date of publication.
This entry looks at your second and subsequent positions. So,
in another perspective, we can take a longer, career view.
A career is a process, not an outcome, with many transactions
-learning new skills,
-defining your strengths and building on them, and
-articulating your values so that others will understand
and appreciate you and your contributions.
As scientists, commenters
bring up the discussion of being
that of an occupation formed by setting up formal qualifications
offered by education, internship/apprenticeship and examination,
a regulatory organization which admits and restricts and has a
code of behavior.
Honestly, however, scientific disciplines, like chemistry, may not
be bound by discipline tracks when thinking about job markets.
This may be less important when we look at markets for
wrote a remarkable article on career mistakes
that hinder personal growth and happiness that we obtain from
careers. I contend these apply to advance degreed scientists.
Let me highlight five frames of mind that restrict the “real job market:”
1. hold off pursuing positions of interest due to <100% match to
musts and wants [lack of confidence, weak in resilience, fear of
failure; be willing to learn on the job and seek help]
2. lack of self assessment knowing your strengths and what makes
you thrive and be constantly challenged and engaged. [engage
psychological and economic instruments outside of your employment
chain of command]
3. fall behind in your learning curve of new skills and experiences
to those who extend themselves [could be in work environment and
professional/ volunteer organizations]
4. fail to take an outsider’s perspective of your industry, organization
and department. This can be a situation where you ‘coast’ for a while.
It is important to continue connecting and keeping up with your
5. miss opportunities to learn about branding your skills and abilities
and be visible in more than one organization. In the information era,
this can seem to be trying things that are not immediately rewarded
in one organization, but opens up opportunities in another.
[no funding to attend a professional meeting; become a volunteer,
offer to assume organizational responsibilities, show that you can be
The C&EN article on (+) and (-) sparteine, which had an
origin in “In the Pipeline,” talks about shortages of specific
chemicals. Interestingly, this unresolved shortage is a
business of chemistry concern and something, as the C&EN
article portrays, that can be of interest to many scientists for
It is an inventory and supply chain concern and thus there is
an overlap with Economics that is the focus here. Economics
characterizes how a business is run, whereas proverbial
‘business’ characterizes how to run a business. In a discussion
, Economics uses algorithms to maximize profits,
determining the quantity of a commodity that should be made
and its cost to consumers.
While the end users focus on delivery and quality, there is
more to the economics
side in terms of storage lifetime,
competing product lines for the same equipment, regulatory
and legal (patent) requirements and LCA
. [lifecycle analysis]
In a blog we summarized three posts on Economics that are
critical to understand Rana Faroohar’s book Makers and
Takers. A fourth entry went into “black elephant”
events which are very unlikely negative events that everyone
can see but feel that they cannot do anything about.
We point out here a video narrated by Matt Damon,
“Inside Job” that is must see for everyone.
A second item is a very interesting piece about using
spectroscopy on archaeological artworks.
Finally GENomics contained a piece about evidence
that a bacterium known to originate gum disease also
triggers rheumatoid arthritis using Mass Spec.
BLACK ELEPHANT - “Inside Job”
[available on Netflix] Many of us were directly or indirectly
affected by the financial turmoil of the 2000s. Downsizing,
lower profits, stagnant economy, job loss, hard to find a new
We think we have gotten out of that mirth, but this video
nothing has been done to the perpetrators [Greenspan,
Paulsen, Bernanke, Summers, Fuld, Fed, the Huge
Wall Street Investment banks], the federal bureaucracy,
and the regulators. They are still in an inept situation
with more to come.
We only see things second hand and we need good leadership
to throttle the flow and trajectory.
SPECTROSCOPY DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN
SOURCE: Biblical Archeological Review Mar/Apr 2017
T. R. Hanneken, Digital Archeological’s New Frontier.
The spectral signature of a pigment in one region can
be distinguished from a pigment with a similar appearance
from a different region. Archaeological application devises
new techniques– low angle “raking”, reflectance
Transformation imaging and InsciptiFact Digital Image
Library which incorporates texture, color and non-visible
characterization of archeological pieces.
PROTEOMIC ANALYSIS LINKS ARTHRITIS TO GUM
There has been a clinical association between periodontal
disease and RA (arthritis) and both diseases triggered by the
same factor. Aggregatibacter Actinomyecetemconmitans
induces citrullinated proteins detected by mass spec.
Bacterial secretion of a toxin to kill host immune cells which
allows a flux of calcium thus activating an enzyme that
This week we talked about what is valued and sought for in
individuals when they seek different career paths. Then we
We pointed out that much of our life is quite unpredictable
and that what we start out wanting, doing and behaving
changes throughout our life. An interesting piece in Quartz
reported on statistical data where in the past we could reflect
on anecdotal instances in changes.
In the short term there remains a consistency in our wanting
doing and behaving, however. Here we might pose that Luck
and Skill arbitrate on what happens in our careers.
CAREERS = LUCK + SKILLS
LUCK = preparation + opportunity + attitude
We suggested it is useful to set objectives, develop a plan
to achieve them and look for opportunities to be and act
professionally along the way. Build your committed network
ask for help, create and learn from “teachable moments”,
continuously learn, and be optimistic.
Two pieces of feedback from our class offered questions–
1- how can I network better? What should I learn and practice?
[understand your current personal values, behaviors and emotional
make-up; small talk, understand others’ make-ups and adapt
to achieve win-win outcomes]
2- it seems like the skills you list are just things to trick people on.
What is the basis for each item on the list, they wondered.
[real life often is a series of unpredictable events with little time
to think. Thus our habits will determine our behaviors. We wish
to figure out what our habits are modify them to be more effective.]
It is hard for some to learn that professional work is strongly
influenced by our cultural, personal and value-based habits.
It is often the case that how you do something is as important as
the outcomes that you achieve. Sometimes the result is “pure
luck” but as we know we “create much of our luck”.
A question came in:
Can you tell me again the differences (e.g. particular years’
experience) between adept, skilled, proven track record in and
problems with, Experienced is not strong enough.
When you do more- design, develop, implement, and solve
- Experienced in can be used for software or running equipment.
managing projects where you have metrics to describe the results-
- Proven track record is last and only relates to things like sales,
- Proficient having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude
These “lead in” phrases are common introductions into
skill qualifications and Highlights section of a resume.
- adept; a person who is skilled or proficient at something.
adept, expert, good, practiced, proficient, skillful, skilful(adj)
“they are adept at kung fu and karate”
budget, time, results, people.
It is a sign of low skill to repeat the same one more than once.
That is why we have several to choose
Hope this helps.
Additionally under unique situations certain individuals can be
“experts in…”. Daniel Levitin has written about who can be
The term expert is normally reserved for people who have
undertaken special training, devoted a large amount of time to
developing their expertise (e.g. MD, pilots, musicians, athletes.)
and those whose abilities or knowledge are considered high
relative to others’.
As such, expertise is a social judgment and relative. …
Expertise also falls along a continuum.
Individuals with similar training and levels or expertise will not
necessarily agree with one another, and even if they do, these
experts are not always
Experts are often licensed, or hold licensed degrees, or are
recognized by other authorities.
In science, technology and medicine experts’ work appears
in peer-reviewed journals or on patents, recognized with
awards, running or starting a company or amassing wealth.
Expertise tends to be domain-specific and typically
INTERVIEWING AND NEGOTIATIONS
In negotiations it is not unusual for you to be asked
“How much do you make now?” and Something
like, “What are your salary expectations?”
Recent ideas have materialized into legislation in
MA where it is no longer legal to ask about salary
history for in-state positions. Note, too, that a later
paragraph states the law takes effect in 2018.
The article offers a response to the salary query–
“.. personal practice to keep salary confidential, as
my research has provided employers compensate
qualified employees with a salary between $xx
and $xy, and your being a leader I would not be
surprised to hear from you in the upper portion of
PARENTAL LEAVE GRAD STUDENTS, POST-DOCS
inda Wang CEN 1-2-17, P. 23-4 PARENTAL LEAVE
Let me shout out about Linda Wang’s meaningful
article in the first issue of 2017 CEN on parental leave.
With the continuing trend of very long graduate
school tenures followed by one or more post doctoral
stints those wishing the fulfillment of family life
either learn too late that certain people or organizations
frown on or discourage distractions from their goals.
I dare say there can even be blacklisting or not offering
article on Title IX
CONTINUOUS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
What can we do to remain employable throughout
our careers? We do not think about that until often
it is too late. It is in the present that we carry out our goals.
You should choose positions that provide personal satisfactions
day-to-day so you stick with it. Engage in activities that
have outcomes that coincide with your personal longer
Early on in your careers you should realize that doing the
same things over and over is self limiting. You need to
bring to bear what is emerging in the larger employment
market (artificial intelligence, computation, robotics) and
seek out and complete career focused education, experiences
and certifications. The Economist
and some trends. (1)Self examination leading to Curiosity
is critical to continually learn and
(2) knowing your learning style and adapting content to
meet your style for long term application and near term
demands is your responsibility.
Large questions remain, namely,
(a)does the training and knowledge get recognition and
reward for the time and expense?
(b)Will there be experiences, skills and abilities that will
be useful where I am now and/or in other organizations?
ACS seems to have a working model for continuous
education and needs constant input for what would benefit
members. How can we better offer soft skill development?
is one specific area, for example.
It is amazing to realize the rapid changes in career
management factors we face. Psychology, economics and
-inference are longer term factors for our careers.
Let me list some specific examples:
ROUTINE TASK AUTOMATION
leveraged loans to automate functions with software and
robotics ) puts middle skilled workers in precarious straits.
[Read: recent graduates with no experience or internships.]
Those who do non-routine work (low-paid, unskilled and
richly paid, highly skilled) are in demand. We see this Job
Polarization in many situations with supporting elements
being stagnating wages and reallocation of roles from
specialization to variety of roles with less specialization.
Thanks to advances in deep learning and AI, computers can
perform not only manual but also cognitive tasks better and
faster than humans. This augers the result that highly trained
specialists are replaced by internet enhanced software, a
specific example is radiologists since much of their work
are “routine cognitive tasks.”
BLACK ELEPHANT SITUATIONS
for alternate energy sources, energy independence and electric
” A black elephant is a cross between a black swan, a low
probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications–
and the elephant in the room, a problem that is widely visible to
everyone, yet no one wants to address, even though we
absolutely know that one day we will have vast, black-swan-like
consequences.” Ocean acidification is an example.
Black elephant events can provide a once in a lifetime opportunity
or the end of the line for industries (think chemical photography),
companies, and directions in our careers.
COGNIFYING AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING
Adding AI to various tasks enables us to do more at lower cost and
higher efficiency. Add AI to laundry to tell washing machines to
adjust to the contents of each load as directed by the clothes (sensors).
AI added to chemistry can aid discoverability and optimization by
performing virtual experiments to reduce the number of lab
experiments to reach a goal. Think of the way Netflix and Kindle
come up with customer recommendations.
This is cognifying. All cognition is specialized. In this continuous
learning process we need to work with AI and robots and let
these tools take our routine tasks and help us dream up
new work that matters. There are four classes of jobs:
1. Jobs humans can do, but robots can do even better.
highway driving, tax preparation, routine x-ray analysis,
pre-trial evidence gathering, etc.
2. Jobs humans cannot do, but robots can.
remote locations, hazardous environments, monitoring,
then signalling an alarm. Jobs that would not be done without
robots and sensors.
3. Jobs we did not know we wanted done.
4. Jobs only humans can do– at first.
creativity (on what we should do), new situations, one of a
Our human assignment should be to keep making jobs for
robots and software.
Reading a powerful work by Rana Foroohar, “Makers and
Takers,” that explains the strong undercurrent that drives
the visible trends we see in offshoring, in automation, in
uneven distribution of profits and benefits. It is what she
The first entry into Economics
highlighted the need for the
ACS to engage “Economics practices,” like true forecasting
and principles that members can truly benefit from. Older
practices of “reporting old news” is insufficient for a true
The second Economics posting
pointed out observations of
limited startups and further concentration bigger firms
driving short term profits, bonuses for C-suite, and shareholder
WHAT IT IS ABOUT
This posting on Makers and Takers who are
M: people, companies and ideas that create real economic
T: users of the evolving dysfunctional market based systems
that aim to enrich themselves without resulting consequences
The Takers implement “FINANCIALIZATION” that push
outsourcing, not thinking about challenges to supply chain,
and promote flash trading and computer-generated algorithms
used in complex securities resulting in market crashes.
Another longer term result is that the labor practices of Wall Street
are being imposed on the nature of employment and kinds
of workers used everywhere. ”Wall Street values not worker
stability but constant market simultaneity. If mortgages are
not the best thing, let’s get rid of the mortgage desk and we will
hire them back in a year. They are ‘liquid people.’”
Besides decreases in lending (to support start ups and new ideas),
and increases in trading and debt securities (rising debt and
credit levels stoke financial instability; debt fueled finance
has become the saccharine substitute for growth), we observe
the mounting monopoly power of large financial institutions
that dominate allocation and are causing even the most successful
ventures to take on debt, reduce regulation and influence legal
This is a readable book that illuminates much of what we are
experiencing and ACS members need to know about.