Did you ever wonder about?

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  • Editorial

    Did you ever wonder about?As we move into the knowledge age, expert and intelli-

    gent system applications will continue to permeate societyand the workplace. Part of the challenge of intelligentsystems and artificial intelligence might be to invoke crea-tive thinking. We, as humans, feel proud that we have anuncanny ability for thinking creatively.

    To stimulate your neurons, here are a few thoughts thatyou may have wondered about

    1. Society

    1.1. Did you ever wonder about

    How they build bridges and tunnels?Why people spend more time talking about doing some-thing than actually doing it?Where is the best place to sit on a plane?What happens after death?Is it smarter to be lucky than its lucky to be smart?Why does it take so long to fix a road?Why do the road crews work during rush hour to slowtraffic to a standstill?Why do so many people dont practice what they preach?Will almost everything you eat eventually be determinedcancerous?Why does something break down when you are in ahurry?Is an orange naturally orange in color?How many layers of skin do you have?Why does a little cut on the smallest part of your body,like your fingertips or gums, hurt so much?Do aliens exist?Is there enough room for truckers to stretch out and sleepin their 18-wheelers?When are transportation signs put up on the roads becauseyou never see the workers doing it?Why do people paint bricks?When someone dies, why do many people immediatelythink Im glad it didnt happen to me?Why do people do something 1000 times perfect in prac-tice, but then mess up the one time it counts?Do people swear because they think it has more impactand effectiveness than nonuse of profanity?Why do some couples say the same things soon after oneof the spouses says something, even though the otherspouse wasnt in the room?Does everyone in the world have a double?

    Why do some people win the battles but lose the war?Why do lawyers seem to be more interested in moneythan in the outcome of the case?Why do people brag?Why do people give out their social security number?Why is some modern art considered great even though itlooks like a two year old splattered paint on a canvas?Can you find your way in foreign airports and foreigncities?Why do peoples tastes vary?How do they build skyscrapers?How do they construct a building that looks identical tothe artists rendering of the building?Why do some dreams seem that they only last maybe fiveminutes but probably last longer?Why do some dreams you forget right away when youwake up but others you remember your whole life?Why is everyone wearing tattoos these days?Why do foreigners from the same country speak with thesame English accent, irrespective of different dialects?Why dont doctors get sick from their patients?When do doctors get the chance to go to the bathroomduring office hours?Why do little tiny cuts hurt so much?How do they transport the daily paper around the countryovernight?Why do you do everything right and someone else eatsthe wrong things but your dental braces, not the otherpersons, become loose?Why do people often misinterpret what you say, espe-cially on the phone or via email?Why are many Chinese restaurants cheap with the portionof rice?Why dont fruit and cookies get smashed transportingcross country?Does everyone have an Adams apple?Why do people say right instead of correct whengiving directions?Why do people make more of a situation than there really is?Why are almost all dermatological creams white?How can medicine fit in a pill?Why are school bus drivers predominantly women whilecommercial bus and truck drivers are mostly men?Why do you offer food to others when you think it tastesstrange?How are people able to videotape an unexpected event,like someone falling out of an airplane?

    Expert Systems with Applications 17 (1999) 239241PERGAMON

    Expert Systemswith Applications

    0957-4174/99/$ - see front matter q 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.PII: S0957-4174(99)00037-8

    www.elsevier.com/locate/eswa

  • Why do people speed up to red lights?Is the safest place to be during an earthquake in a heli-copter?

    2. Computers and technology

    2.1. Did you ever wonder about

    How fax machines work?Where is the power turn on and off switch on your laserprinter?Why do computer demonstrations usually fail after theyworked fine during the practice runs?How do cellular phones work?Will childrens social behavior change with the increaseduse of computers?Who made the first machine?Did the person on the other end of your fax actuallyreceive your fax?Why are laptops so expensive compared with desktopcomputers?Why is it much slower to read text on a computer screenthan it is to read a book?Will printed books be used for just archival purposes inthe future and will electronic books become the standard?Is staring into a computer screen all day harmful to youand your eyes?Should pregnant women use computers?

    3. Family, home, and education

    3.1. Did you ever wonder about

    Why you sometimes hear the next conversation of theperson you just talked to on your cordless phone?Why there arent more robots in the home yet?Why do you feel more tired with the more sleep you get?Will the tenure system for professors survive over theyears?Why are there so few computers in affluent publicelementary schools?If someone taught you that the color was red, for example,but it really wasnt, you wouldnt know the correctcolors.Why there arent continuing education requirements forattorneys, as there are for physicians and accountants?If you have enough material to fill the lecture period?How do you learn to speak a new foreign language bymostly watching TV, spoken in that language?How do children understand a universal language eventhough they may speak different languages?How teachers can give the same lecture 35 times a dayto different classes?Why do people tell you the details of their operations andillnesses?

    4. Animals

    4.1. Did you ever wonder about

    Do all cows have horns?Do cows ever get bored of just standing around andeating?How can an ant carry so many times its own weight?Does a fly feel displaced when trapped on an airplane andlands in a new location?How do squirrels remember where they buried their nuts?Do squirrels steal the nuts that other squirrels bury?Why fish can see you in the water but you cant see them?How close to the shoreline do sharks really feed?Why do flies not fly out of your car?Why some dogs bark and scratch when some familymembers are kissing?If crows roost on the same branch, the same place eachnight when they sleep?How birds build their nests?

    5. The workplace

    5.1. Did you ever wonder about

    Why is it that the good of your vacation is ruined theday you return to work?Would you eventually be bored if you didnt have a job?Why people have someone else call when it is quicker andeasier to call that person themselves?If there is artificial intelligence, then does that mean thereis artificial stupidity?Saying that your phone has a rotary dial just so you canspeak to a person instead of spending many minutestouch-toning through a hierarchy of messages?Who invented the need to use ties, as nooses around yourneck, in the daily course of business?Why you do things ahead of time only to find out laterthat they lost your material because you tried to be effi-cient and did it in advance?Why so many people make mistakes on the easiestthings?Why you often have to keep after people to get somethingdone?Why you sometimes feel guilty if you are working athome?

    6. Amusement

    6.1. Did you ever wonder about

    Why your voice sounds so different to you on tape?How you open a CD ROM cassette cartridge case?Could an average tennis player return a top touring tennisprofessionals serve?

    Editorial / Expert Systems with Applications 17 (1999) 239241240

  • How do singers maintain their voices in musicalsperforming eight shows, six days a week?Why some people are able to win the really big prizes atthe midway games?Why you get thirsty after eating ice cream?Why dont we run out of tunes?What do the actors/actresses do between musicals whenperforming twice on the same day?How do words rhyme in a song when translated from onelanguage to another?How do jokes spread across the world in a seeminglyquick fashion?Would you appreciate a tape of a musical as much as ifyou didnt see the musical?Why do most adults get dizzy swinging on a childrenswing?Why does the second person usually get caught and notthe first one?

    7. The countryside

    7.1. Did you ever wonder about

    How people fit between the dense rows of stalks to pickthe ears of corn?Why is it that you see something new (thats always beenthere) on a road you have traveled many times before?Why it seems shorter to drive back home from anunknown place than to drive from your home to thatplace?If a wave ends its life when it reaches the shoreline ordoes a part of it go back into the ocean to form a newwave?How quickly the leaves grow back each year?If the oceans segregated cultures or integrated cultures?Why there isnt enough sand on the beach for two youngbrothers?

    8. Shopping

    8.1. Did you ever wonder about

    Why stores refuse to open a few minutes early especiallyif they see customers lining up in front of their door?Why a house is never complete because it is always beingremodeled?Why are childrens shoes so much more expensive thanadult shoes even though there is less material to makechildrens shoes and kids will outgrow the shoes in afew months?Why certain stores have an attitude as if they can size upevery shopper who comes into their store?How the most obscure stores can stay in business?If some stores are fronts for illegal activity?Why do fast food restaurants open right across the streetfrom each other?Why do some remodeled shopping malls becomesuccessful even though they werent successful beforeand the stores havent changed in the mall?Why some restaurant waiters recommend their specialwhen its often not good?How do fads get started?Now, you add some questions of your own

    J. LiebowitzRobert W. Deutsch

    Distinguished Professor of Information Systems,University of MarylandBaltimore County (UMBC),

    Department of Information Systems,1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA

    E-mail address: Liebowit@umbc.edn (J. Liebowitz)

    Editorial / Expert Systems with Applications 17 (1999) 239241 241

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