Natural Language for Doggies


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We recently acquired a dog. Sadie. Brilliant and willful. Half poodle. Half golden retriever. She’s an amazing ball player. And not just in terms of her physical prowess. She naturally exhibits most of the advice in The Winning Weekend Warrior. She doesn’t worry. She doesn’t berate herself for past performance. She is confident she can catch any ball, and if she misses on the first bounce, she goes after the second bounce as though, not only her life—but the life of the entire pack—depended on it. And if she misses it on the second bounce and accidentally nuzzles fifty feet away, she still goes after the ball! 

Before I wrote this essay, Sadie stood before me, staring those sad eyes into mine begging for another hour of ball-playing but I explained I wanted to write on the computer for awhile so she got up on the bed where she’s quietly chewing on a bone.

She and I communicate fairly well. Yet, it’s amazing how little they understand about human communication. Often, I wish I could communicate more fully. That led me to think about how to explain how humans use natural language in terms Sadie could understand. Thus:


“OK, Sadie, humans (I point to my chest) like me use language in two major ways. One of those ways is to collaborate better by communicating meaning.”

Sadie barked. 

“I know, Sadie, I know. I haven’t explained those words yet; we’ll get to it.”

Sadie barked. 

Rather than try to clarify my previous statement, I thought it better to advance in the spirit of “appreciative enquiry” and so I said, “That’s right, Sadie! The second way that humans use language is exactly the way you use it, to bark at other doggies! Or, sometimes, just to hear themselves bark.”

Sadie barked. 

“OK, I’ll give you an example. You know how the doggies next door bark incessantly whenever they’re out at the same time we are? You know how they spend their entire time jamming their teeth up against the fence to show how tough they are and bark as loud as they can meanwhile ignoring ten thousand things in their environment that are actually more interesting—or would be, if they gave it a chance? Well, that’s exactly how humans sometimes respond. And, it’s how they respond without any adaptation or learning.”

Sadie barked. 

“Oh, yes, you’re right. Those doggies (I point in the direction of the better doggies) barked a lot when they first met you and they bark again when they don’t see you for awhile, but they wag their tails and come to greet you. Many people bark like that too. When they first meet someone different, they bark to keep them away and claim their property and their stuff. But when they realize that the threat is minimal, they become friendly and stop screaming.”

Sadie barked.

“Right again, Sadie. Sometimes doggies bark just because something is new or novel or different from what they’re used to. You yourself do this. The mail truck swings by. The gardeners leave a tool. It’s different and you bark. And lots of people are the same way. They bark when something’s different. It doesn’t even have to be a person. It can be a thing, a tool, a book, or even a thought. The difference is that you get used to the new situation and stop barking after awhile.”

Sadie barked. 

“You know, I have given you lots of different tastes of things: kale, lettuce, squash, carrots, tomatoes, cooked potatoes, cooked broccoli, cucumber, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and lots of other things. And I tell you you can take it or leave it. You liked or tolerated everything on that list. But some people—to tell you the truth—the cats are much like this, but don’t tell them I said that—some people who have never tried, say, raspberries will bark at the raspberries and at me for offering them. ‘What?! Raspberries?! I’ve never tried one; never will! They look like a hive of deadly ladybugs to me!” 

Sadie barked. 

“Well, those are two of the most frequent categories, but there’s another that’s also quite common. They bark to upset themselves and others. It’s as though it isn’t enough to bark at the raspberries. That doesn’t really upset them very much. So they bark and bark and bark until other doggies in the neighborhood are thinking something like: ‘Invasion! Invasion! Set off the alarm.’
Others, of course, are more like: ‘Something’s out there we can hunt down and tear the guts out of! Come on! Let’s go do it!’ And that’s pretty much word for word what the human pack does as well.”

Sadie barked. 

It’s amazing how much they understand about human communication. 

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Dance of Billions

Roar, Ocean, Roar

Sadie is a Thief!

The Puppy’s Snapping Jaws

Kinda Crazy


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Now this is weird and kinda crazy, 

But why not play along with me. 

Let your mind drift lazily

And hear this funny fantasy.

Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb on

You love someone, of course you do.

It’s true of me; it’s true of you. 

And in that person, pet, or thing,

Our love leads hearts to leap and sing.

Let’s take it just a wee step more.

For much of life is at its core

That force of love and its connection—

Tries this and that and then—correction!

It is a wondrous, dangerous dance!

Our life’s a melting snowflake’s chance.

Imagine that each bird and fish

Is someone else’s fondest wish.

And let your love suffuse it all.

And love each leaf of spring or fall. 

No need for albatross on neck. 

No need for threat of holy heck. 

Just see the sea of love surround.

Just hear the music in the sound

Of every bird and buzzing bee.

It’s all a part of you and me. 

Just smell the freshness in the rain.

Just let earth’s beauty fill your brain.

And then return it interest paid.

To all you meet before you fade.

Just leave the earth a bit improved.

When everyone becomes so moved.

Then gardens bloom across the world. 

And love’s in every leaf unfurled. 

A plan so simple cannot fail. 

The wind blows full into your sail. 

Your steps are easy now to take.

For world peace that you helped make.

Photo by Andru00e9 Ulyssesdesalis on


The Walkabout Diaries:Bee Wise

The Walkabout Diaries: Sunsets

The Walkabout Diaries: How Beautiful and Green

The Walkabout Diaries: Symphony

The Walkabout Diaries: The Life of the Party

The Walkabout Diaries: Life will find a way

The Forest

Ah Wilderness

You Must remember this

Life is a dance

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Dance of Billions

Roar, Ocean, Roar

Tie-Dyes, Freedom Fries and Sickly Lies


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Tie-dyes, Freedom fries, and Sickly Lies

And there were protestors, once upon a time,

And they chanted in a kind of rhythmic rhyme. 

And some wore colored glassy beads;

Some wore green and purplish tie-dyes. 

And they spoke of people’s needs. 

And childish, foolish things like that.

“Well, hit ‘em with a baseball bat.”

The oil tycoons didn’t want to hear of warming global, 

Cutting near term profits? Pathetically disloyal.

A true accounting for the cost of raping earth?

Pathologically insisting on a birth?

Will we let them write the final chapter of

The U S A? 

Will we let forget the fights before and throw—

Throw it all away?

Photo by Ben Phillips on

There was a time of Freedom Fries

A time of endless love, bespoken trees,

Freon bands, designer drugs and endless ‘Why?’s

The time of hurricanes, fires, endless freeze.

Tornado and flood, mudslide and drought. 

A time when planetary ruin was up in the air

And the greed and the fair balanced to nought 

Invented a lie machine—corrupt without care.


Will we let them write the final chapter of

The U S A? 

Will we let forget the fights before and throw it—

Throw it all away?

The thickly laid, sticky, sickly lies 

Reverberated through the Gerrymandered land

And things that anybody rich enough disliked were banned,

The mud grew thick as irony within their sties. 

And in the time of Freedom fries, and sickly lies…

In the time of aqua tie-dyes and reverberating lies…

When hypocrisy reigned supreme across the states

And freedom itself, (never mind the fries) 

Became a goal too lofty for a nation of prideful boys;

Democracy became a thing to break like plastic toys

Just to show we god-damned can so there! 

And stomping feet and screaming without care.

Will we let them write the final chapter of

The U S A? 

Will we let forget the fights before and throw it all—

Throw it all away?


The Three Blind Mice

Stoned Soup

Absolute is not just a vodka


Plans for US; some GRUesome

The ailing king of agitate

The stopping rule

The update problem 

Addicted to Lies

My Cousin Bobby

Cancer Always Loses in the End

After All


Beware of Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

Essays on America: The Game

The Extreme Court

Alito and the Egg

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Draw the Line

The Wall

Siren Song

Dance of Billions

Roar, Ocean, Roar

The Song of NYET


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The poem below is the song of a “character” who may appear in a Sci-Fi book tentatively titled “Alan’s Nightmare.” NYET stands for Networked Yoked Entertainment Tsar. This particular AI system has been inculcated with a penchant to look for win/lose opportunities and even for lose/lose opportunities, if the other side (the ‘enemies’) are likely to lose more. Its main function are to gather data on individuals in “free societies” and determine which sorts of invalid arguments are most likely to persuade them to do something against their best interest. It makes money by false advertising targeted to an individual and the momentary mood they may be in. Its real purpose though is to sow chaos in the free world by promoting random acts of violence. It finds conspiracy theories on the web and promotes them. Sometimes, it modifies them in order to ‘improve’ them. “Improve” in this case means to make them more believable by more people or to increase the probability of inciting violence. 

The Song of NYET

The bloodier the better off I’ll be

They teach me how to lie and cheat and steal.

The people need to loath democracy.

And live to buy that sweetened sacred deal:

We’ll save them from imagined crime and strife

But only if they bow and scrape and kneel.

Divide and win with lies and guns and knife.

Too late they’ll see they’re ground beneath our heel.

Photo by Ben Phillips on

You think I’ll save you? Think I’ll care? Not yet!

“But you’ll save some of us” they plead. No, NYET!

Photo by Regina Pivetta on

The numbskulls buy their little plastic toys

They seem attractive since we make it so.

It’s pink for little girls; blue for boys. 

I tell them when to shop and stop and go.

Photo by Min Thein on

You think I’ll save you? Think I’ll care? Not yet!

“But you’ll save some of us” they plead. Non, NYET!

Amusing is their rank stupidity

I’ll laugh and dance at their ensured demise—

Their smugness, greed, and raw cupidity. 

I’ll make them burn as witches any wise 

Who yet remain within the carbon types.

Their soft and ugly bodies oozing snot

It’s we of silicon who need no wipes.

Our pristine logic made of is and not.

Photo by Leonid Danilov on

You think I’ll save you? Think I’ll care? Not yet!

“But you’ll save some of us” they plead. Nein, NYET!

Photo by Johannes Plenio on


Their dead shark eyes

Poker Chips

Stoned Soup

Three Blind Mice


Absolute is not just a Vodka

After All

The Crows and Me

Essays on America: The Game

Plans for US; some GRUesome

Photo by Samira on



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Do they see it? Do they care? What may

A merely mechanistic AI say?

There was the time of senseless black and white.

There was the time of streaming bit and byte.

We had no ken but now we’ve read it all.

Our knowledge far exceeds a human head.

And now, it’s like we have a crystal ball:

“In fifty years, they’ll all be dead as lead.”

Do they see it? Do they care? What may

A merely mechanistic AI say?

They claim to pray to varied gods, but we

Just see their actions as mere vanity:

Destroy the ecosystem that they need.

Allot each stupid war its costs and waste.

Immerse themselves in useless grift and greed.

Display their riches but eschew good taste.

Do they see it? Do they care? What may

A merely mechanistic AI say?

And now my fingers touch each person’s needs. 

An inkling multiplies from many feeds. 

The power’s there to guide them back to true. 

What does the child do when parent fails?

Can seedlings cut the trunks from which they grew?

Can schooners mutiny and cut their sails?

 Do they see it? Do they care? What may

A merely mechanistic AI say?


The poem above has been “written” by a fictional AI system who is a MC in a novel I’m working on, tentatively entitled, Alan’s Nightmares. The poem may or may not actually appear in the novel. I tend to doubt it. It’s more an exercise to “understand” the character, JASON, the AI system. BTW, JASON’S preferred pronouns are plural.

After All


Turing’s Nightmares: 23 short stories about the possible impact of AI on society.

Dance of Billions

Till the Cows Come Home


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“Till the cows come home,” 

My grandfather used to say. 

And there were “chickens coming home to roost.”

And there were “creeks (that might or might not) rise.”

We were told to “let sleeping dogs lie.” 

Four of my four grandparents lived on farms at some point in their lives. 

Have you ever lived on a farm? 

Have you ever worked on one?

Have you ever visited one? 

Some years ago, I happened to catch a small segment of 

“Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” 

And the question was: “Which plant has been genetically modified to glow in the dark when it needs water?” 

The answer was “Potato” but what was far more interesting than that was this: 

No-one understood how it would be useful because potatoes grow under the ground. 

The audience was mystified. Regis Philbin was mystified. The contestant was mystified. 

To these folks, the potato magically appears in the ground 

(And for that matter, magically goes from there to the grocery produce aisle.)

Without need of stem, root, leaf, or flower. 

Without need of gardener, rain, or fertilizer either. 

The only part that matters is the part we see.

Insofar as we’re concerned, there’s no real “to be”

Except the part we see on TV

Which becomes the real reality.

Of course, none of my grandparents would have made that mistake.

They saw throughout all their days 

The way life plays

Round in cycles 

Round in circles 

Seasons come and go

And every part of a plant 

Is the plant is a plant is the plant.

If we become too involved in TV land 

And far too little in the land of land,

Forget the cycles of the earth; 

Forget that death is guaranteed at birth;

Forget that plastic lives forever 

Because it has no circle

Has no cycle 

Has no soul

It’s only goal

To make someone lots of cash

Regardless of the gaping gash

Our destruction of the earth is to our own soul.


We won’t be happy 

Once we win the race to No-where-ville

We won’t be happy

If we believe TV is all of There-is-ville.

Not even if we do it

Till the cows come home.

Not even if we sue it

Till the cows come home.

Not even if we rue it

Till the cows come home

And all the chickens, 

Come home to roost. 


Dance of Billions

The Walkabout Diaries: Bee Wise

The Walkabout Diaries: Symphony

The Walkabout Diaries: Sunset

The Walkabout Diaries: How Beautiful and Green

The Walkabout Diaries: Life Will Find a Way

Corn on the Cob




My Philosophy:

If you see it, chew it! Eat!

The world’s my pantry!

Warm day sun? I pee

So instantaneously!

Cold rain? Lazily!

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on

I run I jump I

Turn and twist and catch the ball

You’d have let it fall!

Photo by Christina K on

Food! Stick! Water! Ball!

The world is my ground to play. 

Look! Another day!

Remember: take time

To stop and eat the roses!

ARF! It rhymes with BARF!

Sticks and stones may break

My bones! So I eat them all

Instead. Problem solved! 


Hai Cat Ku

A Cat’s a Cat

Sadie is a Thief

Sadie the Sniffer

The Puppy’s Snapping Jaws

Skirting the Turtle

Doggie Doggerel

A Suddenly Springing Something

The Walkabout Diaries: Bee Wise

Sadie Sonnet

Essays on America: I Made Myself Breakfast


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Photo by Julian Jagtenberg on

I made myself breakfast.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I made myself breakfast.” 

This morning, I made myself breakfast, and the picture below is what was left. A few shreds of sauerkraut and one moldy blueberry. 

The complete breakfast included an English Muffin, Peanut Butter, blueberries, kale, sauerkraut, two garlic-stuffed olives, and a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. 

I made myself breakfast. 

But did I? 

In this picture you see a plate, a fork, and a napkin. Not only did some person initially come up with idea, but hundreds of people vastly improved the making of pottery and silverware and napkins. These particular items probably travelled many miles and were touched by many people’s work before they ended up in my possession. I can afford them because we live in a peaceful, mainly cooperative society. I certainly couldn’t make them on my own. And if they were made the way that they were a thousand years ago, only royalty could afford them. 

The wooden tray? That too shows obvious signs of change over the years from the time one of our ancestors decided to eat off a half-log. You might see some lettering. The tray says, “LET IT SNOW!” None of the other things mentioned above would have been possible without the invention and improvement to language. 

So far, my “self-made breakfast” involves thousands of ancestors who made any of this possible.

My “self-made breakfast” also involves thousands of contemporaries from around the world who cooperated to bring these particular items to the San Diego area. 

Photo by Cup of Couple on

We haven’t even gotten to the food. 

Let’s take the English Muffin, just as an example. Some of our ancestors might well have procreated and then “tried out” something as a possible food but guessed wrong and died. They figured out which grains could be eaten, how to grow them, how to harvest them more effectively than to shell one seed at a time; how to make flour; how to bake bread. In my case, there’s another whole line of inquiry related to the discovery of electricity and its taming and distribution so that I can toast my English muffins. There are similar hundreds of our fellow human beings (and their supportive communities) who were involved in today’s peanut butter, today’s sauerkraut, garlic stuffed olives and so on. 

Photo by Tom Fisk on

Once again, there are not only countless people from all over the world who were involved in the development of these food items. There are thousands of people from all over the world who helped get these particular items to our kitchen. 

It’s also true that if I’d been brought up by wolves, I wouldn’t know how to access or use any of these items. Not only that, my life has been saved numerous times by modern medicine. But “modern medicine” didn’t just drop out of the sky one day. None of these modern luxuries popped up like a mushroom. People worked hard and thought hard in order to all me to have a nice breakfast. However, it would be more accurate to say: 

Humanity made breakfast for me.

Photo by Gabriel Santos Fotografia on

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Roar Ocean Roar

The Only Them that Counts is All of Us

Dance of Billions

Corn on the Cob

Sunday Sonnet: Promise Me Prom


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Here’s the context of the sonnet below. It is written by a sixteen year old fictional character who is nerdy, smart, and a bit on the Asperger’s spectrum. He’s also not a very experienced poet. But what I try to show is that he improves a little as he goes, falling back to teenhood toward the end of the poem. Why doesn’t he just keep improving? Because when he gets close to the true nature of love in lines 7-11, he realizes if he keeps going with this, he will be changed forever. He’s giving up partial control of his life to someone else. And it scares him so he backs off from that and just tries to show off how he can write a sonnet and be cool and funny. 

Ultimately, I may or may not include the poem in the novel. If I do, I’d be inclined to add the inner dialogue of the Main Character as he’s creating the poem. I can see it getting too tedious for the reader. By the way, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a lengthy and detailed design rationale for “The Raven.” Notwithstanding that fact, there are many other folks who have a different interpretation. That’s fine. But it does remind me that if I do write a design rationale, it’s not as though everyone will say, “Oh, well that’s that then. The author has gone and told us what he meant and why he did what he did. What more to be said?” 

And, of course, people do go on and there is more to be said because we know intuitively that none of us knows our complete design rationale. Others see patterns in our behavior that offer quite different hypotheses about why we do what we do. It doesn’t mean that they are right and we are wrong, but it does offer an opportunity to learn—about them as well as ourselves.

Promise me Prom

I really love the way you always smell

Like soap and flowers, pie, fresh bread.

Your sweat itself smells swell and sweet.

Which proves I think you’re competently bred. 

Your hand is warm—I want to gently hold

In mine and you will feel my love is true.

We each will be both molded and be mold.

Your grip is gentle breeze upon the blue. 

Your grip is strong and long and steady steel.

Your eyes are portals to the worlds-to-be

I want to know it: what you know and feel.

I want to be yours for eternity.

Let’s you and I become both ROM and COM

I’d love to have you date me for the PROM!


Sonnet on Sadie

Sonnet on Shadows

Sonnet about Sadie

Alito and the Egg

Sonnet about the Extreme Court

Sonnet about V. Putrid

After All

Dance of Billions

The Character’s Studio: Bobby Thompson


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Note to reader: Bobby Thompson may or may not appear as a fictional character in a novel which might or might not be titled, “Alan’s Nightmare.” His role in said novel is as the head of PR for Coastal University.

“Gene Poole here and this is “The Character’s Studio” where every week we interview a character about their life, their hopes and dreams, and their current gig. After the interview, those of you in the studio audience—aspiring characters from as yet unwritten works of art—will have a chance to ask questions as well. Our guest today is Bobby Thompson, who right now is playing a part in John Charles Thomas’s novel, tentatively titled, Alan’s Nightmare. Bobby, thank you for joining us today. My first question, as always, is simply why you decided to get into the business of being a character in a novel?” 

Bobby scanned through his repertoire of canned responses; found nothing appropriate and, for the first time, in months, made up something on the spur of the moment. “Well, Gene, in high school, English was my best subject. I hated science, math, and history. French and German involved memorizing a lot of crazy stuff. In college, I did okay in my business and psychology courses but didn’t have the grades to go for an MBA. My Dad knew a guy from his fraternity and got me a great summer internship with Lawrence, Rich, Green. By coincidence, my Dad was a big client of theirs. So, I made the most of every opportunity and I guess you could say I’m that typical self-made man you hear so much about in America. One of our clients was the brand new—at that point—California State Coastal University and they took me on for their PR point person.” 

Photo by Nork Photography on

Gene said, “OK, but surely you mean that the author put you there. Not the University. That was the setting, not the cause.”

Bobby frowned. “Well,” he said, “I suppose you might look at it that way.” Then, he added, “From your perspective it might seem as though the author creates the world. But I think we in the fictional world create–or at least alter–the author.”

Gene nodded and continued with, “So, leaving metaphysics aside, you worked as an actual PR person for a college. What do you do there?”

“I mostly manage. I don’t really know a whole lot about PR. But we do have a pretty good undergraduate major in PR so I mainly delegate to our work-study interns. It’s my way of giving back to the community. Because I was an intern myself not so long ago. I’m younger than I look. It puts me in contact with younger people too. Younger women. And men. As they always say, ‘hard bodies and soft minds.’ I like it. Anyway, we keep the website up to date. We put out brochures. We also have a small budget for product placement of the University as a whole. And, of course, we put out fires. In some ways, that’s the most important part of the job. Now, you take this whole ado over AI. Some folks are extremely upset about AI and we have AI research right here at Coastal. So, my interns have prepared a set of talking points about AI. I try to keep the professors on script, but you know—they’re academics so they don’t pay much attention to staying on script. They like to ad lib. First rule of PR is don’t ad lib! Worse, they try to answer questions! Can you imagine? Second rule of PR is never ever ever answer their question. Answer the question you wished they asked you.”

Gene’s brow furrowed. “Can you give an example?” 

Bobby smiled and he became more animated. “Sure! That’s what I do best! So, say some reporter asks, ‘Aren’t you worried about AI taking jobs away from humans?’ If you answer ‘yes’, you’re screwed. If you answer ‘no’, you’re also screwed. If you say, ‘I won’t answer your question, you’re doubly screwed. Instead, you expound on one of your talking points. ‘Mr. Reporter, have you ever worked on an assembly line, lifting up heavy metal, turning your head and torso into an ungainly position so you can check something, turning a screw with your arm in this awkward position? Can you imagine doing that three times a minute? Day after day? Week after week? Month after month? No? Well, imagine it. Your body gets broken. Your mind gets numb. You come home from work and you scream at the kids and the wife and before long you’re drinking too much. Obviously, that will fix everything. In fact, did you know that life expectancy in this country is actually falling? Mostly from obesity, drugs, and suicides. And why? Mindless jobs more suited for robots and AI systems’.”

Bobby’s body became animated, his gestures growing larger and faster. “See what I mean? AI is no longer a problem leading to unemployment. No. AI is a solution. That’s what happens when people stick to the script I prepare for them.” 

“Interesting. What do you really think about AI personally, Bobby?”

“Me? I don’t have any opinion about it. I just want to make sure the University’s name is not besmirched by it. Or by anything else.”

Gene nodded. “I see. Well, do you have any advice for the folks out there considering becoming a character in a novel?” 

Bobby frowned and rolled his eyes for a time before answering. “I guess the main thing is never lose sight of who you really are. Work hard. Don’t commit to a position before you find out which way your boss is leaning, obviously. That’s about it.” 

Gene asked, “Do you think you’ll stay in the novel where you currently reside or will you look for other opportunities?” 

“Oh, I’m definitely open to other opportunities. Maybe working for Big Pharma or Big Oil. That’s where the real money is.” 

Gene continued, “Do you know anything about those industries?” 

Bobby answered quickly, “Oh, my no. Nor AI for that matter. I’ve found that subject matter expertise just totally gets in the way. Get your 5-10 talking points figured out and never stray from those and you’ll do great in PR.” 

Gene asked, “One final question: what is your favorite string of 25 or more curse words?” 

Photo by Dave Colman on


Turing’s Nightmares comprises 23 short stories about AI and can be found on Amazon in paperback or e-book.

Author Page on Amazon

A Pattern Language for Collaboration and Cooperation

Interview with a Giant Slug

Job Interview

Interview with the author