I am both fascinated and scared by AI. Fascinating, because it makes it so easy to do things that would previously require a lot of time or practice. Like creating a rhyming poem about pretty much anything is super simple now.

Oh, what a joy to rhyme with ease,
Thanks to my dear ChatGPT, it's a breeze!
A poem with perfect rhythm and flow,
With every word, my creativity will grow.

No more struggles, no more pain,
No more tearing my hair in vain,
With ChatGPT by my side,
My poetry will soar and glide.

From sonnets to haikus, I'll write them all,
With ChatGPT, I'll never stumble or fall.
My rhymes will be sharp, my verses will sing,
With ChatGPT, I'll create poetry fit for a king!

So here's to ChatGPT, my new writing friend,
May our partnership never come to an end.
Together we'll craft words with beauty and grace,
And leave a lasting mark in time and space!

And this is of course the simplest of examples. There’s so much more AI can do.

But the scary thing about it is that it can, and will, and already is, affecting a ton of people and their livelihoods. Many people are scared that AI will make them obsolete.

A computer engineer was worried about being replaced by AI in the future, and John Carmack had a good take on this. Software is just a tool to help accomplish something for people. It’s all about the delivered value. Right now the best tools for that might be hand coding, but in the future this might be AI guiding.

There’s another thing that caught my attention today. When you hear about the mass layoffs at big tech companies, obviously that’s a big thing, but you also realize there is a reason why this happened. For one, they were too bloated, hired too many people in the big hype days when there was this big online frenzy. That party can’t go on forever. But another thing is, and that’s much less talked about, is that many of these people actually don’t work. They’re on the payroll, they have a position, but what they mostly do is pretending to work. Emmanuel Maggiori wrote a piece called I’ve been employed in tech for years, but I’ve almost never worked, and it’s a great read if you want to know about the realities of what it’s like to work in tech for a big corp.

“I have come to the conclusion that most people in tech don’t work. I don’t mean we don’t work hard; I mean we almost don’t work at all. Nada. Zilch. And when we do get to do some work, it often brings low added value to the company and its customers. All of this while being paid an amount of money some people wouldn’t even dream of.”

He then criticizes the dogmatic adoption of Agile methodology in tech, claiming that it has led to task bloating and sacrificed productivity for predictability, that it all turns into a box-ticking exercise, and that productivity is sacrificed in the name of predictability.

And he has a few words to say about standup meetings too, which I full-heartedly agree with:

the entire team is supposed to meet every day for a short debrief called a stand-up meeting. In this meeting, every team member gives an update on the current tasks and potential blockers. The idea of a stand-up meeting is to create some sort of team synergy, but I’ve never seen that happen. It soon becomes a box-ticking exercise
when a coder faces a difficult task, sometimes the best solution is to spend a couple of days thinking about it or doing research in a focused, freestyle way. It doesn’t help having to constantly interrupt work to speak about work and notify everyone of what you’re doing every step of the way.

I’ve always dreaded these stand-up meetings, as they rarely provided valuable insights, and instead seemed to be more opportunities for employees to show off their amazing accomplishments and gather brownie points, and rarely ever was something actually meaningful accomplished, or did something happen that could be considered helpful for anyone.

Now while he does offer some valid criticism of what’s going on in some places, he’s also grossly exaggerating things: plenty of tech workers do real work. And agile is not the root cause of all that’s wrong with inefficiencies in tech. But he speaks of his own experiences, which are definitely true for many other people (I’ve come across my own fair share of people with very cushy six-figure salaries that complained about how frustrating it gets when you basically work 3 hours a month).






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