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Automating the Automators: Shift Change in the Robot Factory

What would you say is the job of a software developer? A layperson, an entry-level developer, or even someone who hires developers will tell you that job is to … well … write software. Pretty simple. An experienced practitioner will tell you something very different. They’d say that the job involves writing some software, sure. But deep down...

Digesting 2022

Although I don’t subscribe to the idea that history or technology moves in jerky one-year increments, it’s still valuable to take stock at the start of a new year, look at what happened last year, and decide what was important and what wasn’t. We started the year with many people talking about an “AI winter.” A quick Google search shows that...

Radar Trends to Watch: January 2023

Perhaps unsurprisingly, December was a slow month. Blog posts and articles dropped off over the holidays; the antics of Sam Bankman-Fried and Elon Musk created a lot of distractions. While we won’t engage in Schadenfreude over the Twitter exodus, or SBF’s fall from the financial firmament, the most interesting news of the month is the rise of Mastodon....

What Does Copyright Say about Generative Models?

The current generation of flashy AI applications, ranging from GitHub Copilot to Stable Diffusion, raise fundamental issues with copyright law. I am not an attorney, but these issues need to be addressed–at least within the culture that surrounds the use of these models, if not the legal system itself. Copyright protects outputs of creative processes,...

Radar Trends to Watch: December 2022

This month’s news has been overshadowed by the implosion of SBF’s TFX and the possible implosion of Elon Musk’s Twitter. All the noise doesn’t mean that important things aren’t happening. Many companies, organizations, and individuals are wrestling with the copyright implications of generative AI. Google is playing a long game: they believe that the...

AI’s ‘SolarWinds Moment’ Will Occur; It’s Just a Matter of When

Major catastrophes can transform industries and cultures. The Johnstown Flood, the sinking of the Titanic, the explosion of the Hindenburg, the flawed response to Hurricane Katrina–each had a lasting impact. Even when catastrophes don’t kill large numbers of people, they often change how we think and behave. The financial collapse of 2008...

Technical Health Isn’t Optional

If every company is a technology company, then every healthy company must have a healthy relationship to technology. However, we haven’t seen any discussions of “technical health,” which suggests that industry at large doesn’t know what differentiates a company that’s been through a successful digital transformation from one that’s struggling. To help...

Healthy Data

This summer, we started asking about “technical health.” We don’t see a lot of people asking what it means to use technology in healthy ways, at least not in so many words. That’s understandable because “technical health” is so broad that it’s difficult to think about.  It’s easy to ask a question like “Are you using agile methodologies?” and assume...

Formal Informal Languages

We’ve all been impressed by the generative art models: DALL-E, Imagen, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and now Facebook’s generative video model, Make-A-Video. They’re easy to use, and the results are impressive. They also raise some fascinating questions about programming languages. Prompt engineering, designing the prompts that drive these models, is...

Radar Trends to Watch: November 2022

Maintaining a separate category for AI is getting difficult. We’re seeing important articles about AI infiltrating security, programming, and almost everything else; even biology. That sounds like a minor point, but it’s important: AI is eating the world. What does it mean when an AI system can reconstruct what somebody wants to say from their brainwave?...

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