Bulletin 22 July 2019. On air gaps, cloud hopper hackers and breaking Google

The pessimist’s guide to the future

I start this week with a couple of resolutions. Or rather, aspirations — they only become resolutions when I actually do them. So:

Resolution 1: to start collecting links about what I read, so I can actually connect to it and turn my idle opinions into commentary.

Resolution 2: turn my idle opinions into commentary.

Meanwhile, we are stuck with idle opinions, but with a bit of solidity behind them. This week, I noticed an article about the dangers of being optimistic about AI vs jobs — the optimist’s idea is that automation eats away the dull stuff first, leaving the more interesting stuff which has to be a good thing, right?

I’ve written from an optimist’s perspective myself, but I have taken a different line. Many jobs only exist because of our desire to both feel useful, to get value from one another and to cope with complexity. On this latter note, to whit:

I was chatting with Adrian (from whom I sublet my office) this morning, about the amount of waste in corporations — or to put it another way, the pointlessness of meetings. People spend (perhaps) a third of their time sitting round tables or on conference calls, much of which gets in the way of getting things done.

So, yes, complexity. We spend time tying to understand things, trying to get other people on board, to agree a shared approach — all of which gets in the way of actually doing something. I read once that the most successful people are those who make decisions, even if the decisions are wrong, as indecision is a bigger killer of progress.

In other words, we already waste a great deal of time doing jobs, and somehow we get away with that. I have a funny feeling that even if we automated a raft of things we currently do, we’d just carry on working (potentially more) inefficiently to fill the time we had saved.

Actually, I’m not sure that’s particularly optimistic at all. Anyway, tune in next week for an altogether more considered and link-strewn bulletin. I might even draw some pictures.

Thanks for reading, Jon

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Bulletin 22 July 2019. On air gaps, cloud hopper hackers and breaking Google

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