Of Two Minds

I read Ethan Marcotte’s article about Google’s recently announced service / product called Duplex. In it, he lays out the following argument:

Frankly, this technology was designed to deceive humans. That’s not a value judgment, mind: the aim of the product is to act as human-sounding as possible. What’s more, the demos above are impressive because Duplex specifically withholds the fact that it’s not human. The net effect is, for better and for worse, a form of deception. Duplex was elegantly, intentionally designed to deceive. (And given that reality’s on shaky ground as it is, I don’t think this is the most responsible goal.)

I’m of two completely separate minds on this. One the one hand, I completely agree with the doubters thinking. Let’s not mince words here, Google, given its history, stands to be viewed upon with a hefty bit of skepticism when it comes to doing what’s “right”. But let’s say that’s not it. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say Google has every good intention in this particular space. What about others? What about the malicious folk out there? What about the people who are out there to scheme and cheat and rip people off? Isn’t Google giving them, right out of the gate, a tool to aid in their shenanigans?

This ultimately comes back to the old adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. I don’t know that we’ve held technology to that standard enough recently. A perfect example of this is the creation and, more importantly, the use of self-driving cars when the tech is not absolutely rock-solid.

Having said all of that, I was reading a tweet last night from someone whose name I have known for a while, but didn’t know a particular fact about. This gentleman stutters. Like me. He viewed this in a completely different light. His idea was that the Duplex “product” could be used in a very nice and productive way by people who have speech disabilities. Like he and I do. It was eye-opening. I think I even re-tweeted it with “Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, etc.”

Because I can completely see his point. I HATE talking on the phone. It makes me anxious, nervous, and scared. I get over it, and conquer it, but it’s an every-single-situation kind of thing. What if I didn’t have to do that but 40% of the time I do it now? That would help me. Would I like to be 60% less anxious? You’re damn right I would be.

The well-being of global society is still winning in my head, and I will go on record as thinking this might not be the best thing. But it’s not as much of a slam dunk as I would have originally thought.

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Educated

Educated

Earlier this week, someone left a comment on an article I’d written to shame me over a word they considered “not a word”. A few years ago this would have stung and left me feeling like an imposter. At age 42 I have very few fucks left to give about such pedantry.

Formal education gives you words and technical understanding, it helps you interact with other people on a level where you can all assume you have the same starting point. It isn’t everything, and perhaps my hard-won knowledge, learned from trying and failing and figuring things out alone is my greatest strength.

While I am a firm believer in higher education, and have spent a tremendous amount of time teaching and guiding my kids toward a successful future in college, I love the “fuck you” attitude from Rachel here. It’s unapologetically defiant. And coming from an unbelievably intelligent person that is shaping the world of web design as we speak, I applaud her so much.

Bravo, Rachel. Bravo.

Programmers who only code at work

Programmers who only code at work

What’s your opinion on programmers who are not passionate about programming, have no side projects and only program at their jobs. Not senior devs either, just programmers, who are not juniors anymore. Can they ever improve, write better code? Or do they stagnate. Asking because my coworker said he doesn’t enjoy programming at home.

I have to say something. This mentality drives me crazy. Even the question is so galling that it infuriates me. As if you MUST leave work and go straight home and continue to code so you can be viewed as a worthy developer. It’s ridiculous and wrong-headed.

You’re reading the blog of someone who is passionate about programming. I have been passionate about programming since I wrote my first C program in college. My 12-year anniversary at work was this past week. And guess what? I’ve never gone home to code “for fun”. Why? Because I have a life outside of my work, and I enjoy it. My kids are 11 and 13 now. I’ve watched them grow up, and am very proud of the fact that I have been present in their lives from day one.

I am a worthy father the same way that I am a worthy developer. One does not preclude the other.

I don’t understand this way of thinking. And I don’t understand why this idea would be so prevalent in the software development industry. I’ve heard stories of hiring procedures that depend on candidates having side projects on GitHb or BitBucket. Why is that a requirement? Because it shows you will bust your ass at work and bust it even more at home to prove…what exactly? That you are “committed”? That you’ll do whatever it takes? That you’ll sacrifice everything to “prove” yourself?

Yeah, no thanks.

All I’ve ever wanted to do in my career is matter. I want my work to matter. And it does. It fulfills me. And it’s enough for me.

The good news is there are voices starting to push back on this idea. I ran across this tweet this past weekend:

And a responder to the linked article above said the following:

Having said that, no-one’s trying to stifle anyones passion here. If you love to code, do it at every opportunity you get. But be careful when passing judgement on the skill, growth and development of folks who don’t share that same level of passion.

When it comes to my personal life, and the personal lives of my employees, work is work. And your time is your time. Enjoy both.

#youdoyou

Arming Teachers

A Series of Questions for Those That Advocate Arming Teachers In Order to Prevent Innocent Children from Being Slaughtered

  • Where does the money come from to train these teachers?
  • How much training is required?
  • Who is doing the training?

This is such a detail-oriented list of questions for these political fuckwads that are proposing this lunacy. It’s so pedantic that I would have thought I wrote it. So many kudos, Casey. So many.

Umm, is she wrong?

I was perusing Facebook after all of the Florida shooting stories. Shocking that none of the normal gun freaks were speaking up in the aftermath.

Anyway, not the point here.

I came across the post above, and was struck by something. Number one, my aunt left a comment on the post that said “Thank you, Mr. Vice President.” Sigh. Number two, Joy Behar is not altogether wrong for saying what she said.

Think about it. If I publicly ran for office and said I discuss my issues and problems with my imaginary friend named Alan, people would say I was crazy.

“No, no, he’s my spiral advisor,” I would say.

And they’d call me even crazier.

And you know what, they’d be right. Because I’d be talking to someone (or something) THAT’S NOT REAL. There is no Alan. Just like there is no Jesus listening to you or talking to you.

It’s not there. It’s not real.

So, I would question my aunt. Why do you say “Thank you, Mr. Vice President”? Because you talk to imaginary friends, too? Is that ok? And if it is, I would presume you’d support any candidate or leader that talks to an imaginary bunny rabbit, right? Or a robot? Or what about an alien?

Those things are just as “real” as Jesus. (Oh, and by the way, there are “religions” that don’t believe in Jesus either, so it’s not just coming from this atheist.)

FFS