Nathan Zeldes is a globally recognized thought leader in the search for improved knowledge worker productivity. After a 26 year career as a manager and principal engineer at Intel Corporation, he now helps organizations solve core problems at the intersection of information technology and human behavior.
I am not an AI researcher by any means; on the other hand, I’ve been fascinated by the advancing field of computing since I was in high school in the era of mainframes and punched cards, and I’ve worked and played right in the middle of this field ever since; so I’ve had ample opportunity to give thought to that intriguing yet maddeningly elusive concept, or oxymoron, or design goal: Artificial Intelligence. In this post I attend the origins of the field; in future posts I’ll be looking at what happened next.
Nathan ZeldesThe Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence
By now I’ve worked with a long list of companies (both hi-tech and traditional) to help them solve their problems of information overload, which typically focus on email overload as the top priority. These companies tend to fall into two main classes: those who seek a fast fix (I’ll call them “Class 1”), and those who take a longer, deeper view (“Class 2”). The difference has many ramifications at both the I and the R ends of the ROI equation…
Nathan ZeldesThe two classes of organizational email overload engagements
Communicating through our computers at any length is still primarily taking place through some physical or virtual manifestation of the QWERTY keyboard – a device invented for the early typewriters of the 19th century, and supposedly designed – intentionally – to work slowly even then.
Nathan ZeldesStar Trek, voice interaction and the future of email
Computers are advancing in leaps and bounds and are increasingly displaying attributes of practical Artificial Intelligence: they may not yet clash with astronauts, but they definitely take over many daily tasks that used to depend entirely on human brainpower.
Two aspects of the modern workplace are information overload and stress. These two rose precipitously from the mid-nineties to the mess we are so used to today; which raises the question: is there a connection?
Nathan ZeldesProductivity, Information Overload & Stress: is there a Sweet Spot
We don’t usually look at computer use from a biological standpoint. But why not? We do consider athletic performance as a matter of optimal cardiovascular function and muscle metabolism, and performance of knowledge work is just as biological, even though it uses the brain, not the muscles. So why not look at optimizing brain function?
Nathan ZeldesInformation Overload and Neuroscience
The custom of celebrating independence day hasn’t changed in America since 1776, but one thing is definitely different today: when folks get back to work after the long weekend or vacation, they lose the holiday’s festive mood with a harsh reality check when they see the content of their inbox; the anxiety actually begins with the status message/screen as the inbox count is refreshed.
Electronic communications – email, social media, SMS, and so on – are rapidly replacing a good part of human interaction on our planet, and enabling whole new vistas of collaboration. This has its benefits – the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and with anyone, for one. But it also has some drawbacks, and today I want to discuss the problem of human rapport and trust in distributed teams.
Nathan ZeldesHow to create Trust in Global Distributed Teams