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Link: Jobs are for Machines

Deep Learning Is Going to Teach Us All the Lesson of Our Lives: Jobs Are for Machines, by Scott Santens.

Advances in technology are now so visibly exponential in nature that we can expect to see a lot more milestones being crossed long before we would otherwise expect. These exponential advances, most notably in forms of artificial intelligence limited to specific tasks, we are entirely unprepared for as long as we continue to insist upon employment as our primary source of income.

Scott Santens

There’s been talk about this coming in varying degrees for years (and the idea of a universal basic income has been tossed around for decades — it was a central idea in For Us, The Living, Heinlein’s first [unpublished at the time] novel back in 1938), but this article does a solid job of summing up the state of where things are NOW, and why we’re out of time to put off thinking seriously about what’s coming.


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Link: Life Lessons from a Lifestyle Business

Over at IndieVC, A Lifestyle Business Can Kill You Life Lessons from a Lifestyle Business: A really honest, worthwhile interview with Matt Haughey, the creator of MetaFilter.

I crave simplicity and I don’t want complications. I’ve counseled my friends many times to just make things that make a little bit of money and make you happy. Why isn’t that good enough?

Matt Haughey

It should be good enough. You don’t have to build an empire to make people’s lives better and to do things you love. I’d even go so far that digital empires are in direct opposition to making people’s lives better. But that’s a rant for another time.

Update: So, the title felt kind of incongruous, and doesn’t really have a lot to do with the post. Apparently Matt felt the same, so it’s been changed:


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Link: Anna Wiener on the SF Tech Scene

Good article about the bullshit startup culture in San Francisco by Anna Wiener over on n+1.

But we see now that we’ve been swimming in the Kool-Aid, and we’re coming up for air. We were lucky and in thrall and now we are bureaucrats, punching at our computers, making other people — some kids — unfathomably rich. Anna Wiener, “Uncanny Valley”

It’s a good read, and captures a lot of what makes me uncomfortable/unhappy about the Bay area and the tech scene here.


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Wil Wheaton on Depression

Depression is a dick, and Depression lies, and even though I know all of that with the rational and reasonable part of my brain, the Depression part of my brain has been really loud and persistent and just relentless for a couple of weeks, now. It’s Friday, and when I look back on this week, I can see all the important and good stuff that I’ve done, I can see the small but meaningful steps I’ve taken toward completing things that are important to me … but those things are all in the shadows that are cast by the giant spotlight Depression is shining on the things I didn’t do.

And the thing is, I could probably come up with good reasons that I didn’t do the things that I wanted to do, and they are probably reasonable reasons, too. But I also know that all week long, Depression was right there on my shoulder like the leprechaun that tells Ralph to burn it all down, and quietly telling me that there’s no point, there’s no reason to do it, it’s not worth my time.

And now it’s Friday, and Depression is telling me that I’m a failure because I didn’t finish the things that Depression helped ensure I didn’t start.

That’s the insidious part of Depression, at least for me, and I know that to a person who doesn’t struggle with mental illness like I do it just sounds like a pity party where all the gifts are excuses.

But here I am. On Friday. No closer to finishing the things I wanted to finish than I was on Monday.
Wil Wheaton, so distorted and thin

(I’ve posted a few prior quotes/links to Wil’s depression posts, partly because they’re well written, but mostly because it’s so spot on for how my own depression manifests itself.)


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Link: The Cult of the Attention Web

Good article discussing the “Attention Web” over on Medium by Jesse Weaver:

The finite nature of time means that, in the world of the attention web, the competitive landscape is all encompassing. Everything is in competition with everything else. Facebook is as much in competition with Twitter, as it is with Spotify and Apple Music, Gawker and BuzzFeed, Hulu and YouTube, Candy Crush and Two Dots, Amazon and Walmart, Xbox and Playstation, Chipotle and your family dinner table, your hobbies and your bed. Because in the attention web, time spent shopping, eating, talking, playing, or sleeping is time that you are not looking at ads. It’s why Facebook has experimented with in-feed shopping. It’s why they bought a messaging app and VR company. It’s behind their big drive into video, as well as article self-publishing. They have to compete on all fronts to win the attention war.



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Link: Being tired isn’t a badge of honor

Jason Fried speaks Truth about the tech industry’s love affair with overwork over on Signal v. Noise. This has been a perennial issue in games (where terms like “crunch” and “death march” are used often), but is definitely happening in general software as well. It’s a demonstrably stupid and abusive idea with repeated studies showing it is, and yet it’s still prevalent. When an industry is attractive (like games, like the current 2.0 Dot Com gold rush), it’s easy for investors and management to adopt a “burn and churn” mentality about their workers.


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Elizabeth Bear on Committing

Here is thing I learned when I was 29, which I now give away for free:

If you want to do a thing, do it now, or as soon as feasible. Because there might not be a later.

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But to succeed at a thing–a job, a relationship–in the long term, the thing is: You Must Commit, even though commitment is scary. And commitment is scary because once you’re in you’re in. It’s not bobbing around close to the shore, paddling with your feet. It’s both feet and swimming as hard as you can out where the rip currents and the sharks are, where the water turns blue.
Elizabeth Bear, everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand and all the living they don’t do.


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Links on Conversational UI

The latest fad in user onboarding has been adding a bot or pseudo-bot to chat and interact with users, called a “Conversational UI.” I say fad because it’s getting a lot of attention and attempts right now — it may well be a useful tool for the arsenal, but I’ll be happy when it’s out of vogue and is “just another tool.”

My grumbling aside, there’s some useful articles over at A List Apart about it, if you care to learn more: