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Barry Kort
Attended Stanford University (MSEE, Ph.D)
Lives in Boston MA
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Thought For the Day

Heredity is hereditary.

What does that mean?

It means that if your parents didn't have children, there's a good chance you won't, either.
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+Hiawatha Bray  or Shirley Leung might be interested in working this up into a story for Boston Globe readers.

Verde Energy is a Connecticut-based energy trading company that seeks to enroll residential electric utility customers into designating them as the wholesale supplier for their residential electric service. Verde Energy is one of several such competing companies that call up prospective customers, seeking to switch them from their existing electric utility plan to an alternate plan through energy trading companies like Verde Energy. 

Last Friday, I received one such call (a live call, not a robocall), during which time I spoke to three customer service agents in Atlanta. The first one, Jeremy, could not answer my basic questions, so he handed me off to his supervisor, Kim, who similarly could not answer my questions. 

Finally, I spoke to the Enrollment Manager, Andrew Houck, who told me no one had ever asked the kind of questions I had posed to him. And then he sent me an E-Mail brochure.

In the link below you will find my response to Andrew Houck, along with his original solicitation message to me.

Understanding and Responding to Verde Energy
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The government deregulated all the utilities and now the utilities are flooded with sleazeball competitors.
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Building and Managing Personal Trust Networks

One of the features of the Information Age and Social Networks is the rising importance of Trust Networks.

What is a Trust Network?

It's a network of individuals, organizations, and agents that one confidently feels they can unconditionally trust to be honest, reliable, ethical, constructive, pro-social, and responsive.

Adding or removing individuals, organizations, or agents in a Trust Network is not an easy process. I tend to be cautious in adding new members to my personal Trust Network, and reluctant to summarily dismiss or remove an existing member.

I value mutual trust and mutual respect. And I lament episodes where mutual trust and mutual respect are eroded in an unexpected, surprising, disappointing, inscrutable, heartbreaking, or inexplicable manner.

A few years ago, I wrote this blog post about the principal considerations in building and managing a Trust Network.

The academic name of this subject is FaceWork Theory.
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Adventures in Escalation

Over the course of the past week, I've spent about five hours with no fewer than seven Verizon representatives in three states trying to diagnose a glitch in registering my Apple iPad Mini, which seems to have pretty much everyone vexed, perplexed, aggravated, frustrated and mystified.

It looks like it's going to take an Act of God to solve this one.
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This story is now republished on Medium.Com ...

https://medium.com/@BarryKort/adventures-in-escalation-a9335ca30e18
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Politics is an anti-social drama in which frightened, insecure, and ill-informed characters exchange threatening, confusing, and misleading messages with each other.

And so, politics has increasingly become a puerile (and perilous) playground for ornery, ruthless, foolish, ill-informed, and immature adults.

And yes, that amounts to a socio-cultural pathology.
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Rule-driven systems define games and dramas (both of which are instances of Chaos Theory).  The 4000-yr old meme of "Law and Order" is a myth.  While this observation was rigorously proven in the 20th Century, astute observers have prominently noted it for the past 3500 years.
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Our Place In the Cosmos and the Role of STEM in the Advance of Civilization

The Democratic Age is Stage 3 of the (extended) Viconian Model. 

The Viconian cycle consists of multiple recurring phases:

(1) The Theocratic or Divine Age, represented in primitive society by the family life of the cave, to which the thunderous voice of God has driven mankind;

(2) The Aristocratic or Heroic Age, characterized by incessant conflict between the ruling patricians and their subject plebeians;

(3) The Democratic Age, in which rank and privilege have finally been eradicated by the revolutions of the preceding age.

Currently, we are ensnared in the Fourth Age, as anticipated by Vico, and as explicated by any number of modern sources:

(4) The Chaotic Age, characterized by the bewildering collapse of democratic society, which is inherently dysfunctional and therefore riddled with a panoply of hellish and baffleplexing problems: conflict, violence, oppression, injustice corruption, poverty, ignorance, alienation, abuse, despair, suffering, and terrorism.

The resolution of this nightmare age of unrelenting chaos is to evolve to the Fifth Age where we master the art of taming the ill-mannered recursion laws that define and characterize the Chaotic Age:

(5) The Cybernetic Age, in which the otherwise mind-boggling math of recursive loops is tamed and tuned to gracefully converge to the long-dreamed of Omega Point.

More details here:  http://TinyURL.Com/Advance-of-Civilization
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The Spirit of Becoming

The proper name of the God of Moses is יהוה which means "Becoming."

That is to say, the Name of the God of Moses is nominally equivalent to an abstraction that, in English, would be "The Process of Becoming" (or just Becoming, for short).

What is 'Divine' in living systems is Becoming (e.g. the phenomenon of growth, transformation, and maturation).

I reckon it's unbecoming not to believe in Becoming. 

The Process of Becoming is Awesome.

Let me elaborate ...

As a scientist, researcher, educator, and sentient being, I am fascinated by the following processes, which I seek to understand and participate in:

1. The Process of Creation in the Cosmos

2. The Process of Evolution in the Biosphere

3. The Process of Enlightenment in the Noösphere

4. The Discovery Learning Process in the Brain and Mind

5. The Creative Process in the Arts

6. The Problem-Solving Process in Engineering

7. The Peace Process in Human Culture

8. The Nurturing Process in Relationships.

9. The Healing Process in the Human Spirit

10. The Process of Falling in Love with Life and People

I subsume all of the above under one umbrella term, "The Process of Becoming" (or just "Becoming" for short).

To my mind, it is unbecoming not to believe in Becoming.

Discovering, experiencing, understanding, and participating in these (and similar) processes not only makes me feel alive and engaged with life, it makes me feel connected to God, Orenda, or whatever you like to call your Higher Spirit.

I like to call it the 'Spirit of Becoming'.

http://foofy.musenet.info/~bkort/God.Is.A.Concept.html
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Why it will take an Act of God to solve a seemingly simple problem of registering an Apple iPad Mini to work on Verizon's cellular service.
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Adventures in Escalation

Why it will take an Act of God to solve a seemingly simple problem of registering an Apple iPad Mini to work on Verizon's cellular service.
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This story is now republished on Medium.Com ...

https://medium.com/@BarryKort/adventures-in-escalation-a9335ca30e18
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Adventures in Escalation

A while back, I was given a hand-me-down iPad Mini as a thank-you gift for doing some pro-bono technical work for a cash-strapped professional colleague.

This iPad Mini has WiFi, GPS, and Cellular capability. However, I don't own a cell phone, so I don't have any cell phone service in my name. That meant I could only use the wireless features when I was in range of a convenient WiFi base station. In particular, one needs cell service to use GPS so that street maps can be downloaded on demand.

While I don't have a cell phone, my brother does, and it occurred to me it might be reasonable for him to add my iPad Mini to his existing Verizon cell phone account (just $10/mo) so that my device could be used in emergencies on the infrequent occasions when I'm away from home.

So my brother instructed his Verizon service rep to put my device on his account. I sent along the requisite mobile device ID numbers and Verizon SIM card number.

But lo! The Verizon service rep said my iPad Mini couldn't be entered into their system. Verizon was rejecting my device ID. But it wasn't just my own device. The Verizon service rep said this had happened a number of times with other customers with similar Apple devices.

So I said I would research the issue to learn what was going on.

Thus begins my adventure.

Over the course of a week, so far, I've spent about four hours with no fewer than seven people in three states trying to diagnose the glitch, which seems to have pretty much everyone vexed, perplexed, frustrated, and mystified.

We now have at least three plausible hypotheses in the air, with none of them conclusively ruled out.

Today, I spoke on the phone with no fewer than three high-level executives at Verizon Wireless Regional Headquarters for New England. They are committed to solving this problem, but I fear it may turn out to be a major undertaking involving the negotiation of inter-carrier inter-operation agreements between AT&T and Verizon.

It seems there are subtle and obscure technical reasons why mobile devices may not be compatible with the cell tower equipment of all domestic carriers. Some Apple iPad models evidently have transceiver chips that only work with some carriers and not others. So an iPad Mini that was built with a transceiver chip for AT&T won't work compatibly with Verizon, and vice versa.

If that's the problem, then the only realistic solution would be for AT&T and Verizon to negotiate an inter-carrier inter-operation agreement allowing devices to traverse a competitor's network so that a customer can use a device that was originally built for a different carrier's network. This is like praying for an Act of God.

We pray for Acts of God to reverse the hellish situations caused by the Other Guy. In this case the Other Guy is none other than the US Department of Justice.

Forty years ago, there was one high-functioning telephone network known as the Bell System, in which everything was carefully and conscientiously designed to work compatibly with everything else in the network. The Bell System was the highest functioning high-technology system ever conceived, designed, and engineered on the face of the planet.

As a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in the Network Planning Division of AT&T Bell Labs, I took pride in my role of Systems Engineering to ensure that, as the network gracefully and systematically evolved with the measured introduction of new technology, everything continued to interoperate flawlessly from end to end across the entire telecommunications network. That was the driving philosophy of Systems Engineering.

And then came the US Department of Justice who declared that a high-functioning, highly integrated communication system where everything worked compatibly with everything else was against the law! A high-functioning, highly integrated system, declared the DoJ, was an Illegal Monopoly. And they mandated the breakup of the Bell System, to be replaced by fierce competition between non-cooperating organizations who were instructed not to collaborate or collude to preserve the legendary unity of the integrated Bell System.

So here we are today, with multiple incompatible technologies, such that Apple evidently had to build two versions of the iPad Mini, one that only talks to AT&T Cell Towers, and another that only talks to Verizon Cell Towers, each talking a different "language" from the other.

Way to go, US DoJ, you fulfilled our dire prediction of 30 years ago that breaking up the Bell System was the dumbest idea the US Government ever came up with since Prohibition and before being trumped by the idiotic decision to invade Iraq in search of non-existent WMDs.

And the irony, of course, is that the US Government is itself a monopoly. But it's not exactly a high-functioning monopoly like the Bell System. Nope. Our US Government is an idiotic dysfunctional monopoly that can't seem to think its way clear to do much of anything right.
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This story is now reposted on Verizon's page on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/verizon/posts/10155240949440123
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Worrier, Warrior, or Thinker?

I define "worrying" as an emotional form of information processing which fails to reduce the entropy or uncertainty of a knowledge base, fails to generate solutions to outstanding problems, or fails to conceive goal-oriented courses of action.

Conversely, I define "thinking" as a rational form of information processing which reduces the entropy or uncertainty of a knowledge base, generates solutions to outstanding problems, and conceives goal-oriented courses of action.

See The Calculus of Ideas.
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I expect Deflategate will turn into a Comic Opera in the style of Mozart.

The villain, of course, will turn out to be Deflater Mouse.
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The joke took the air right out of you; didn't it +Bob Calder ?
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Have him in circles
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Work
Occupation
Cognitive Science Research
Skills
Science Education, Model-Based Reasoning, Diagnostic Reasoning
Employment
  • Cognitive Science Research, present
  • MIT Media Lab
    Visiting Scientist, 1999 - 2009
  • Bell Telephone Laboratories
    Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, 1968 - 1987
  • MITRE Corporation
    Lead Engineer, 1987 - 1990
  • BBN Systems and Technologies
    Visiting Scientist, 1990 - 2000
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Boston MA
Previously
Omaha Nebraska - Omaha Nebraska - Lincoln Nebraska - New Orleans Louisiana - Mountain View California - Monmouth County New Jersey - Boston Massachusetts
Story
Tagline
You see a slow moving red-headed scientist wearing a wrinkled lab coat over a Science Museum Polo Shirt.
Introduction
I am a retired Visiting Scientist in the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab.

I am also a now-retired volunteer with the Boston Museum of Science.

You can find a longer biography of me here.
Bragging rights
Winner of the 1996 NII Award for pioneering innovations in children's education via the Internet.
Education
  • Stanford University (MSEE, Ph.D)
    Electrical Engineering, Engineering-Economic Systems, Operations Research, and Systems Theory, 1968 - 1975
  • University of Nebraska - Lincoln (BSEE)
    Electrical Engineering, 1963 - 1968
  • Omaha Central High School
    College Prep, 1960 - 1963
  • Omaha Benson High School
    College Prep, 1959 - 1960
  • Omaha Benson Junior High School
    Junior High, 1957 - 1959
  • Omaha Benson West Elementary School
    Grammar School, 1950 - 1957
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Moulton the schmeggegy scientist from MicroMuse