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Introspection. Part 2. How relevant?

In a previous post I started talking about the introspection that has been involved in the writing of my textbook. As I said, it can be challenging. Sometimes it’s challenging because it makes you realize things about yourself that you’d rather not. So, yes, I wrote a PhD thesis and all that jazz. For quite some time it was very heavily cited (and it was pointed out to me that I should have turned it into a journal article, but hindsight is perfect). It’s absolutely true that the work had a profound impact on the creation of and direction of a new field, which is moderately exciting. But then, where am I now? The citations aren’t what they were, but they still happen. The impact isn’t what it was, but it is still there. The thing is: who really wants to read a PhD thesis? Probably one person (the one who wrote it!) – even examiners don’t really always want to read them! But this has its own issues. For instance, a great deal of wheels are getting re-invented as we proceed into the wonderful new dawn of Trustworthy AI. All of a sudden, trust is in vogue again and a whole generation of new (and old) researchers are picking up their keyboards and writing down things about what they think. In the previous post I mentioned that trust is a package deal. This is so. It isn’t just in terms of disciplines that it is the deal, however. It’s across time. If you don’t revisit the “classics” you won’t learn from all of the mistakes they made and all the things they discovered. You just won’t. So whilst it’s great to say that “trust is important” and “trustworthy AI must be something we work toward” or “don’t trust an AI” or whatever, spare some thought for the small contributors you should be standing on the shoulders of, but instead are ignoring in the zeal to get your opinion out first. Go read stuff. Then have an opinion.

Dalkeith, ON. October 22, 2021

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