Editorial

Our first paper in this issue comes from Gary Lea, writing about artificial intelligence. We have published other papers on this subject of late and several book reviews, but Lea’s paper is rather different. He argues that, far from being the definitive rational approach to doing things that many assume, artificial intelligence involves choices. As social scientists are generally well aware and as engineers often are not, choice is influenced by bias and involves risk. The game of chess is often presented as the stage for the contest of man against machine, but chess is actually far from the battle of logic and intelligence commonly imagined. Artificial intelligence is indeed a battleground, but of research groups, companies and countries struggling against each other. The challenge is less to master new sorts of intelligence than to use new sorts of intelligence to master others. This entails choices and risks and dangers rarely assessed in the world of artificial intelligence. Gary Lea is a mature PhD student supervised by Peter Drahos, a Prometheus editor. When Lea received a diagnosis that he had not much longer to live, it became clear that he would never submit his PhD thesis. His Prometheus paper is a compilation of the work he had completed. In compliance with Prometheus requirements, the paper has been fully peer-reviewed and edited in the normal fashion. We hope it is a fitting tribute to the scholarly part of Gary Lea’s life.

Pia Storvang, Anders Haug and Bang Nguyen, all from the University of Southern Denmark, develop a traditional interest of innovation studies; they focus on the user of innovation. Just how are organizations to make contact with users, extract information from them and incorporate this user information into their innovation? A basic problem is that some organizations need user involvement in their innovation much more than others. To help find a solution, Storvang, Haug and Nguyen have developed a typology that is supported as much by empiricism as by theory. The authors take three cases from the Danish building industry and a further nine from small design firms working in a variety of industries. Perhaps not surprisingly, their paper confirms the need for an approach that matches each particular innovation, and an appreciation that even parts of projects might well require different approaches.

David Noble, Michael Charles and Robyn Keast, all from Southern Cross University in Australia, tackle an equally fundamental innovation problem, one that young small firms are especially likely to encounter: the ‘What do we do next problem?’ Noble, Charles and Keast think a service akin to that provided to guests by a hotel concierge might be the answer. Their concierge service would be offered by government (local, regional or national) to startups. A range of concierge models is examined. None is perfect, not least because of problems of trust and timeliness in the transfer of information from the concierge to the small firm.

The review essay is becoming a regular feature of Prometheus. It gives the book reviewer an opportunity to take an opinion of a book to realms forbidden to most reviewers. The opportunity has proved surprisingly popular. In this issue the review essay spot is occupied by Jeffrey White from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. His review is of the new book by Luis Pereira and Antonio Lopes on machine morals and the machinery of morality. White ups the ante: if we consider religion a technology . . . Gary Lea will enjoy the argument.

There follow six book reviews, each one a substantial work. While the book review is a dying art form in academe – probably because it is not a standard performance measure – it seems to be thriving in Prometheus. Our extraordinary book review editor, Steven Umbrello, has been able to persuade academics that personal opinion is not just permitted in a book preview; it is required. Witness Nick Butler’s high opinion of Dennis Tourish’s low opinion of management studies in Management in Crisis. Had management studies been open to anything other than its own opinion of itself, perhaps it would not be in crisis.

Stuart Macdonald
General editor