I’m sure that if you read this contemporarily, you’ll recognize that the headline is a reflection on the Twitter thread about 10x engineers. No need to review that now — I’m simply linking it for posterity. While it is relevant to ask what kind of cultural background and selection bias could lead to such a bad misunderstanding of software development, that’s not what I want to write about. Instead, it prompted the headline. Great software is created by great teams. But how do you recognize that team? Better yet, how do you intentionally build such a team? Can a team be a 10x team? …


I held off on the Facebook announcement until I’d have time to read what they’re up to now.. Here’s what I think now that I had the time. This post is an edit of my Twitter thread.

This doesn’t read like a vision [Mark on FB]. It’s an incrementalist response to a few topics Mark has picked as repeating critique, designed for continuation of the old attention-grab vision.

Reducing permanence reads “it seems people interact with Stories as much as they did with Status, so it’s ok for our ad sales to double down on it.” …


Is it just me, or is the question of whether Artificial Intelligence comparable to human intelligence a more common topic, on an almost daily basis? I’m even encountering questions of whether computers have souls now. I believe this (badly misguided) concept is fundamentally because of two things: first, a basic misunderstanding caused by a poor choice of words, second, because we tend to mysticize things we don’t understand. I will try to show how in this case these actually are the same thing.

The history of AI goes back a very, very long way. The Greek god Hephaestus was the god of blacksmiths, and built not just weapons with godly powers and intelligence, but automatons that did work, guarded palaces and defended against attackers. Pygmalion sculpted a statue brought to life by Aphrodite and became Galatea. Our stories have since then, and quite likely long before that time, contained all kinds of artificial creations breathed to life by gods, lightning, human ingenuity or fairy dust. It’s really no wonder that computers were seen as the next frontier for Intelligence from their very early days. Unfortunately, Intelligence means so many things — almost none of them achievable by a computer. …


There are a few basic principles I have followed both with my own development teams and with those I’ve advised over the years. A few days ago I posted one of these, and it sparked a nice conversation on LinkedIn:

You should go read the conversation, because there are some very good examples of how to deal with technical debt. However, I’ll use this post to expand the basic thought a bit.

To many, financial debt is something to avoid, but to others, it’s a tool for enabling activities that would otherwise be out of reach. Accelerating and leveraging investments, enabling to build and develop things for which capital isn’t yet available, and so forth. Of course, taking on and managing debt requires planning and discipline. Running a massive credit card balance or taking on high-interest payday loans isn’t a viable long-term strategy, although even those tools can be useful in a pinch. A mortgage on the other hand usually is a valuable long term tool, and a revolving credit facility on the other hand provides a business similar benefits a short-term credit card balance provides to an individual: liquid funds to ease cash flow management. …


2017 was an eventful year for robotic vehicles, so it’s a topic I figured I should follow up with a longer, dedicated set of notes. After helping bootstrap one still stealth-mode company in a related area during 2016, I took half a step away from the immediate space into the related field of Mobility as a Service, including both trunk route services as well as on-demand ride-hailing and -sharing services, obviously with human drivers involved. With Kyyti, we’re operating in customer mode already, which works better for me than the still mostly lab-mode work of the vehicle technology itself. Still, robotic vehicles are immensely interesting and I’ve been keeping an eye on the field. …


To begin with; a personal note. While long form postings here have been sparse, I’ve tweeted over a thousand article links over this year. Should the topics in this post be interesting to you, I want to invite you to a conversation there.

Three topics have captured my imagination this year. AI, fragmentation of common reality, and of course my day job, the disruption of transportation. I imagine these topics will continue next year, too.

Artificial Intelligence has certainly been a frequent conversation topic this year. Whether the subject is robotic vehicles, the destruction of jobs, or a coming Singularity, it seems everybody has some expectation for AI, which is nothing short of amazing considering just a couple of years ago this was a science fiction topic at most. …


Is a self-driving car responsible for a traffic accident? Should a medical AI go to jail if it subjects a patient to a deadly dose of radiation? If a stock trading algorithm causes a market crash, should it be fined? Are we heading into an apocalypse and summoning computerized demons, as some headlines quoting people like Elon Musk seem to be claiming?

Not to underplay the damage a mistakenly applied or badly designed automation could cause to the world, the short answer is: no. We are applying ever more powerful technology, but it’s us who are doing it. We should not humanize AI to the point of developing regulation to control them. Despite their complexity and seemingly emergent behavior, these are ultimately mathematical constructs created by people and organizations. Human laws apply to human actors. Algorithms are not people. …


When you’re thinking of offering an API as part of your own product, you should take some time to understand how to position its business value proposition in a way which makes long term sense. With a clear value proposition it will be much easier to justify the investment and maintenance resources an API requires.

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Offering an API to outside users is a commitment to continue providing it. In order for that commitment to make sense, it must be valuable to your business, too. Similar to SaaS products, API value propositions fall to a few general categories. …


Setting goals we can keep is difficult, whether we think of personal or business objectives. Every so often, I resolve I will exercise more than the bare minimum, but a few weeks later, I will fall back to the old habits and excuses — today I’m too tired, maybe tomorrow? I’m sure you’ve been there, too.

It’s not much different for business goals. Perhaps you’ve also realized that some of the goals you’ve set for yourself or for your business aren’t actually going to pan out the way you really wanted. Why does that happen? How could we make setting and keeping goals more reliable, more motivating, and more actionable? …


When Amazon Web Services first started popularizing cloud services, they weren’t quite the first to sell virtualized servers in place of managed hosting. However, they were among the first to sell them as an API, and moved very quickly to provide all sorts of services with API provisioning. This really changed the picture from the still-dominant “buy or rent a server” model, but software designed to take full advantage of this is still in the minority.

Do yourself a favor, build your software for the future, not the past. Make it to be easily provisioned in the cloud — and with Docker, it’s easy to make it provisionable to any cloud. This is what we did for IndoorAtlas. Doing so enabled us to deploy the same software, originally built and deployed to Microsoft Azure, to a new deployment behind the Great Firewall of China, and finally also to Amazon Web Services. Thanks to Docker and Mesos, we were able to automate what had been a manually deployed system based on spinning up virtual machines with a custom-built image and local configuration, different in every deployment, to a set of Docker images we could configure from a central directory and have Marathon orchestrate their resourcing to an optimally small infrastructure. …

About

Osma Ahvenlampi

Agile business leader, product lead for @KyytiCom, founder at @Metrify.

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