Look, Ma, no brakes.

Large tech companies resist any sort of regulation like the plague. There’s plenty of examples of the heights (depths?) they will go to in order to shake off any kind of oversight. One could argue that there are some good reasons to minimise regulation on innovative entities but moves like this from Microsoft (and they’re not alone here) to remove their own internal regulation just confirms that the large tech companies cannot be trusted to think beyond profits and share prices and that responsibility for the broader care of customers and humankind in general has to lie somewhere else.

IoT for Good?

It’s simple but effective. Great story about a little corporate dishonesty. I’m actually more than a little intrigued by this one because I was just pondering buying my new running shoes the other day from a manufacturer that says they have a strong commitment to recycling old shoes, of which I have several pairs. This kind of story shakes your confidence in the marketing pitches for “green” products.

Getting a Grip on ChatGPT

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke

There’s something strangely unbalanced about the human reaction to a lot of new things, particularly things that the average person doesn’t fully understand. We tend to either over-react or under-react, seldom hitting just the right response. The recent wave of over-reaction regarding OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool seems to be a great example. It’s the end of the education system. The internet is going to break. AI tools like ChatGPT are going to learn how to program, take over everything and rule the world. Apparently they’re acting in threatening and “dark” ways, etc.

This article is a wonderful piece which helps, I think, put it all into a little perspective, and, boy, perspective is sorely required at the moment.

Perhaps the most important message in it is one single line… stop anthropomorphising AI. Seriously. Every time we start viewing and thinking about AI in anthropomorphic terms, we immediately start to imbue it with abilities and powers it just does not have and the world becomes a lot scarier and freakier. We allow every fanciful SciFi movie and book to let fiction and imagination slant our view of what is actually real. Then we over or under-react.

AI tools are absolutely amazing, and ChatGPT (along with other large language models) has enormous potential to massively improve the way humans access, understand, synthesise and utilise information from an enormous range of sources. It’s a very cool piece of technology. But, it is not sentient. It has no capacity to be dark and dangerous in any kind of personal way. It is a massively sophisticated search engine, one which sometimes comes up with the wrong answers. It is useful and fascinating, and the opportunities it offers up are quite transforming but it is just a tool.

Like using any kind of internet search, its utility is heavily reliant on the person wielding the tool. Ask the right questions in the right ways and you can get some amazing results. Go down certain types of interrogative rabbit holes and you’ll get weird and strange responses back. This is not because there’s some kind of demonic sentient beast lurking in the bowels of this tool. It’s just limitations in the tool’s ability to properly deal with strange lines of questions. Old school systems would just bail out and tell you nothing can be found, try again. A true human would probably tell you that you’re being stupid or rude. ChatGPT just robotically keeps on trying to give you back something, even it becomes more and more obscure and nonsensical.

This new type of tool is amazing and it’s going to take us a little while to find our footing and figure how it truly helps and where it hinders. But, like all of the cool tools that came before it, we’ll probably look back at some of the reaction and wonder what the hell people were thinking when they freaked out back in the old days.

Accountability?

I just read another one this morning. A CEO who is letting go a huge chunk of their workforce and says that they are “accountable” for the situation having developed and having come to this. This word has been used multiple times by tech company CEOs in the past couple of months. In fact, it almost seems like these guys are reading from the same script! But what does that actually mean? What does accountability or responsibility mean if there are no consequences or repercussions? A CEO saying they’re accountable for the awful need to lay-off 10% of their workforce because of poor decisions and then resigning and joining the job queue with their people… that’s admirable and I think an appropriate response if you really do accept that you’re accountable. A CEO saying they’re accountable but then just basically carrying on normally as if that statement meant something without personal repercussions is a bit weird and frankly indicates they really don’t understand what accountability means at all. Basically says “I’m accountable but you guys pay the tab for my poor judgement”. I know none of these guys are going to give up their jobs because that’s not how the modern world works (it seems) so just stop using the word. To quote one of my favourite movies, “that word you are using, I do not think it means what you think it means…”

With all that in mind, I respect the genuine response by the Zoom CEO… this feels a bit more like real accountability.

Planning is for Doing

Planning is an essential part of our daily lives, from personal to professional. It’s very difficult to really do any vaguely complex set of actions without some level of planning. It helps us organize our thoughts, prioritise tasks, and set goals for the future. 

However, all the planning in the world is meaningless if it does not lead to action. Planning is for doing.((Credit to Nicholas Broune for this pithy mantra – https://biggestfish.substack.com/p/planning-is-for-doing?s=r)) 

Let’s take a look at some of reasons why it’s crucial to keep this sharply in focus when we’re planning.

First and foremost, planning without action is just a waste of time. It’s essential to always keep in mind that planning is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The goal of planning is to create a roadmap that leads to the achievement of specific goals. If planning does not lead to action, then it equates to futility and fruitless effort.

Second, planning without action can lead to a false sense of accomplishment. When you plan and make lists, it can give you a feeling of satisfaction, as if you have done something productive. You can build a great system to capture all the stuff that needs doing, but if it doesn’t help you move to action then you fall for the trap of being busy but not productive. 

Finally, planning without action can crush your confidence. When you repeatedly plan and never follow through, it can make you feel as if you are never going to get anywhere. Far from accomplishment, over a period this actually leads to frustration, a sense of overwhelm and often feeling like you’re going backwards.

So, how can you ensure that your planning leads to action? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure your goals are clear and specific. Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve will help you prioritise your actions and keep you on track.
  2. Break your goals down into smaller, manageable tasks. This will make it easier to get started and stay motivated.
  3. Set a deadline for each task. Deadlines help to create a sense of urgency and accountability.
  4. Regularly review your progress. Checking in on your progress will help you stay motivated and make adjustments if necessary.
  5. Reward yourself for your progress. Celebrating your successes, no matter how small, will help keep you motivated.
  6. Remind yourself regularly that your planning system only needs to be big enough and sophisticated enough to help you get things done. No more than that. Anything more than that is unproductive procrastination.

Planning is important. We often need to do it to get a grip on all the myriad of actions that need to come together to create a desired output. But don’t lose sight of the key imperative that planning is only there for doing. If there’s no doing then the planning is not worth doing.

Talent Exit Stage Left

According to one source,((https://layoffs.fyi/)) so far in 2023, 122 tech companies have laid off a total of 37,526 employees. That’s an astounding number. I’m hoping that a redistribution of that talent means some of our vendors have a better time of building their teams. The biggest issue for me is that some of our worst vendors in terms of service are the guys getting rid of people! Go figure.

Cool Hearings

As someone who has a couple of family members with hearing challenges, I’ve started to pay a lot more attention to these kinds of cool innovations coming down the line. One of my daughters has already figured out that her AirPods Pro provide some very useful assistance in certain environments, and it will be exciting to see how this consumer-grade tech develops. Deafness is massively isolating for those who struggle, even moderately.

These Sennheiser buds look like a cool option.

Glass Houses

Glass houses and all that. When the government started laying in heavy into businesses over cybersecurity issues, it was only a matter of time before it became apparent that government agencies are far from stellar performers in this space. When the ATO can be duped, I don’t think anyone can relax.