Deprioritized. Out of scope. Throw it in backlog.
Throughout my career, from leading various global initiatives at Google to serving as a product lead at SoftBank Robotics or as COO at Cafe X, every day was a non-stop series of trade-offs that needed to be made.
Do I put out this fire myself or do I use it as a teachable moment for my team? Do I take the shortcut that gives instant gratification or do I invest for future acceleration? Do I take the short-term hit to my more easily quantifiable metrics for a better chance at long-term success?
To make these decisions, I use a combination of two simple frameworks: expected value and regret minimization. …
My paternal grandmother was always a bit of a mystery. So much so that, when my cousin asked me to write a speech that could be delivered at her funeral, I found myself unable to do her story justice.
I still can’t.
But if nobody is truly qualified to speak on behalf of the dead, then I can at least document my limited understanding of the woman she was.
Born toward the end of WWI in a coastal province in China, my paternal grandmother grew up sufficiently privileged to be educated — a rarity in her generation. Raised to be a housewife, she later fled the mainland to Hong Kong with her daughter during the height of WWII. She lost her first husband amidst the chaos. …
This week, I embarked on a new adventure — a mission to help define the future of work in the age of robotic automation. In 2016, I wrote about my journey to SoftBank Robotics:
I believe that robots can positively impact the human condition, but we must thoughtfully consider where and how to deploy them. I believe that robots are still in their infancy, in many ways, but they are an inevitable part of our future.
Those words still ring true today.
So where should robots be deployed? The most common refrain is “dirty, dangerous, and dull” — adjectives used to describe the types of tasks that can and should be automated. Take, for example, the responsibilities of a barista at a high-throughput cafe: taking an order, pressing buttons on a machine, placing a cup of coffee on a counter, and calling for a customer’s name. These are all tasks that are fairly rote and easily automated. And yet, many people claim to have a favorite cafe or, in some cases, barista. …
Disclaimer: I am not speaking for my employer. These are my personal, unfiltered thoughts.
Dear San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim,
A while back, I wrote about why Bill Gates was wrong about the robot tax. Now that the issue is coming up again in my own backyard, as you explore the implementation of a payroll tax on robots, I feel compelled to reiterate my case.
Pretty much all technology displaces human effort. That’s the point! Nobody is advocating that we implement a tax on cranes since we no longer construct buildings entirely by hand. Nobody is advocating that we implement a tax on email and online messaging services because we’re taking jobs away from the postal service. Nobody is advocating that we implement a tax on street sweeper vehicles because they are more cost-effective than human street sweepers. …
Disclaimer: I deeply respect and admire Bill Gates. I identify as a bleeding-heart libertarian. I believe in basic income. I am not speaking for my employer. These are my personal, unfiltered thoughts.
Bill Gates: Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.
There are many technologies that “do the same thing” as a human worker that used to earn an income. Bing, and other search engines, have taken away jobs from human librarians and research assistants. Online travel agents have taken away jobs from human travel agents. Spell checker assistants, such as those found in Microsoft Word, have taken away jobs from human copyeditors. …
I was a bookish child. I read during recess, lunch, and, occasionally, dinner. I would even read while walking, a habit that my parents were convinced would eventually cause my death.
For the most part, I read science fiction — with a smattering of Austen and Wilde for good measure. Asimov, however, was my true love. In particular, I enjoyed his delving into the edge cases testing his Three Laws of Robotics. Dr. Susan Calvin, a recurring character in his robot stories, became a role model of sorts. …
The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit today against Palantir Technologies, a data and analytics company based in Palo Alto. Valued at ~$20 billion, the company allegedly discriminated against Asian engineering applicants who were “as qualified as White applicants” partly due to a “referral system that disproportionately excluded Asians.”
The government agency cites stark numbers: For a QA engineering intern position, more than 70% of applicants were Asian. Yet, out of the 21 interns, just under 20% were Asian. The DOL says the likelihood of this happening is one in a billion.
The bigger problem is that Palantir is not alone. …
Building a startup is like volunteering for the Hunger Games 2.0. Your fellow Tributes are all rushing toward the Cornucopia of talent. You have to fend off vicious competitors vying for the same prize (candidate) that will hopefully get you through the Games. Even after you return to your secure hideout victoriously clutching a signed offer letter from your top-choice prospect, your startup could still collapse the next day and there certainly won’t be any cannons fired to mark your demise.
A lot of variables will ultimately determine the success of your company, but that first sprint to the Cornucopia could mean the difference between life and death. …