Seattle, City of Literature

Congratulations are in order to everyone who helped secure Seattle’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. This was an effort that inspired a lot of people who worked hard for this, and the designation is well-earned. Way to go, Bob Redmond and the rest of the board of directors. I’m proud of you. I…

The Littlest Hitler

Then there’s the time I went as Hitler for Halloween. I had gotten the idea after watching WWII week on PBS, but my dad helped me make the costume. I wore tan polyester pants and one of my dad’s khaki shirts, with sleeves so long they dragged on the floor unless I rolled them up.…

Drinking from the Intellectual Firehose

Last night I had the pleasure of participating in an extraordinary conversation with a group that included two women pioneering mixed reality at Microsoft, an expert in artificial intelligence, a filmmaker just back from a trip to Cuba, an Amazon art director, an author, an editor, and an internationally renowned exonoree who advocates for the…

Your Mind is a Cosmic Space Donut

In the late eighties, when I was in high school, there was a kid named Wylie who sat in front of me in Washington State History class. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but casual acquaintances. Wylie got in a serious motorcycle accident and spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital. One morning…

Tales of Two Cities

I live a minute and twenty-three seconds away from one of the finest bakeries in Seattle, Bakery Nouveau, a purveyor of croissants and macarons that has improved the quality of my life to the detriment of my waistline. The bakery is across the street from a small park called Williams Place, where some of my…

A Blind Argentinian Librarian Predicted the Singularity in 1940

I woke up this morning to another story in what seems to be an accelerating series of news items about the evolution of artificial intelligence. Barely awake, I learned that Google has developed a new Go-playing AI that taught itself mastery of the game without any human input beyond the game’s rules. My thoughts immediately…

Response to the Letter from Seattle Civic Leaders to Amazon

Dear Civic Leaders of Seattle, I am deeply embarrassed on your behalf after reading your letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and John Schoettler. As someone who worked for Amazon twice for a total of five years, and as a citizen who spent two years working with the city on a cultural diplomacy project that didn’t…