A cheap plastic wand had magic locked inside. It just had to be broken to release it.

A Magic Wand. Broken so that the magic can come out. (photo by the author)

A few years back, we got a plastic wand at a checkout counter in a convenience store. It had a small stalk, about six inches, and the top formed into a star shape. Serena, my (then) two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, instantly took to it. Running around our apartment, she’d aim it at various objects and transform them into magical items only a child’s eye can see. Sometimes even my wife Marzi or I would be transformed.

“Poof! Now you’re a dragon!” she beamed.

“Roarrrrr!” I’d say, doing by best dad-dragon imitation.

Then she’d zap Marzi.

“Zap!, Look, mommy! …

Many decisions in life have an undo button. It can be liberating.

image by author

Many years ago I was buying a new printer. I went to the local tech store and found the printer aisle. So many choices. Which one to choose? Better color? longer ink? cheaper? How to choose? I decided this needed some research — after all, a good printer was a critical tool in my business, and my old printer had lasted 8 years! I went home to do a little more research and that’s when it really hit me.

Most decisions in life can actually be undone.

Suddenly whole mindset changed. Bad printer choice? Return it. The train of thought…

There are three types of Science Fiction. Each type can teach us about life, love, and possibilities in very different ways.

The original Star Trek communicator — presaged the flip phone, the smartphone phone, and just worked. Photo courtesy of Stefan Cosma on Unsplash.

I love a good science fiction story. Yet I was often puzzled about what pulled me into some stories or turned me away from others. That’s when I saw a pattern — there are three types of Science Fiction. This essay is a journey on how I came to that conclusion, why it matters, and an appreciation for the craft’s writers.

My journey into science fiction

Since I was a kid, electronics and science awed me. I read magazines and loved to go to stores to see what the latest gadgetry was. Yet, for all the glamour of new tech, a large part of my…

The 2020 election has strained our institutions and revealed weaknesses. Now is the time to address them.

A Vote being cast. Photo courtesy Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The United States has just finished another Federal election cycle. Yet the tension around it shows we need a more uniform, transparent, and modern voting process.

It may be comforting to think that our election process is robust. The legal challenges played out and the system ‘prevailed’ - just with a little delay. I would submit the opposite is true. Our system worked only because the 2020 election wasn’t actually that close. If a single state decided the 2020 election, such as in 2000, chaos would have ensued.

Perhaps the most critical issue is this: How do we retain faith…

New AI Bots are able to write stories, music, poems, and code — almost as good as humans. What does this mean for human content?

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Computer scientists are quickly writing the next generation automatic content writing engines using the latest artificial intelligence (AI). What do I mean by content? Well they can generate short stories, love letters, poems, music, and even write some code. Are they as good as human? No, but let’s set old ideas about “robotic” text and bad grammar aside. These new AI bots write like humans. Really. This is just the beginning.

What can these do and how do they work? Let us take a look.

A little background

In order to generate high quality content a machine needs to have some knowledge. To…

A scrappy crew sets up for a mission...

Note: This is a satire about $GME, Short selling, and Wall Street (Jan 2021)

A gambling parlor (pic by Michał Parzuchowski via Unsplash)

Standing outside the WallStreet Roadhouse, the Redbit Gang was ready if a little green. As Gilly had instructed, they quickly swarmed to the large table where Robin was the dealer. Grabbing their seats, they edge up on each side of Big Mel, who paid little notice as he primped his suit. Robin gave them each a gentle nod and they plopped down their chips.

The time for action had come.

Big Mel leaned high in his seat and laid his parlays out as he always had…

Twitter and Facebook, have banned Trump. But if his audience moves to platforms where there is no counterpoint we will all be more isolated.

Composite Image by Author from Twitter screenshots

President Trump’s Twitter account was something to behold. With over 80 million followers, not only could he communicate directly with the world, he’d actually announce policy and firing decisions with it. Trump also played fast and loose with the truth. For months, Trump wrote numerous falsehoods about how the election was stolen from him. This forced Twitter to make tough choices about how to label such posts, or to whether they should be left publicly viewable.

At first, Twitter would label the posts as non-factual or disputed. But disputed according to who? Twitter? To accommodate this, Twitter’s moderation team enlisted…

In this year of The Pandemic, there is much angst over “Science”. But Science isn’t the term or even the concept we’re looking for, it is Solutions. Science is just a piece of that and the difference is critical when making public policy.

Samples being batch tested. Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

The pandemic has wreaked havoc in 2020. Worldwide, 10s of millions have been infected, and over a million are dead. Science to the rescue, right? Not exactly. Science is a process for discovering new knowledge through creativity and testing. The Scientific method reveals bits and pieces of truths about an unknown subject. What we need are solutions…

Vivid experiences teach us about danger. But what about abstract risks such as unregulated AI or DNA editing?

Image composite by author based on 3 creative commons images.

Just one event, such as touching a hot stove, sears into our mind a level of respect. Yet sometimes people warn us about new developments that are as dangerous as the proverbial hot stove and we ignore them. This is true even if they come from trusted persons or sources. Why?

On going public debate rages about Climate Change yet many don’t even acknowledge its existence? Is it just about disputing facts and sources? Even if there was just a small chance that the Climate Change was real and dangerous shouldn’t that trigger skeptics to dig deeper?

It’s not just…

Manu Chatterjee

Engineer and Father of two. Passionate about, science, music, short stories, and little things that make life interesting.

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