So yesterday was my birthday. As soon as my friend Bruno announced it on Twitter, fearing for my phone’s battery (considering I was going to be away from a charger for the day), I kindly requested not to receive that many notifications. As usual with these things, it had exactly the opposite effect, with him and other friends making sure that I’d receive as many notifications as possible.
When people tell me they are worried about the incoming robot revolution, I know they’ve probably seen a clickbaity article based on some well-known quote by a famous person (like Elon Musk) in which they predict an artificial intelligence-based doom for humanity. Either that or they’ve seen Ex Machina or the latest episode of Westworld or some other catastrophic movie, tv-show or book on the aforementioned theme.
This is a normal reaction. It’s the same with sharks. Even though they are responsible for a very small fraction of human deaths in the entire world per year (less that vending machines), people still have that image of the relentless killing machine from Jaws. So, the same concept applies to artificial intelligence and the image of the impending robopocalypse.
I’ve always been a fan of podcasts ever since I bought my first iPod (which is now over a decade ago), because I’m able to listen to them anywhere while doing other things (like driving, cooking, etc.). And the world of podcasting content has only gotten better. In the past few years, podcasts have gain more notoriety and stopped being viewed as that niche media that only geeks use. They have become massive online repositories of interesting audio content, specially after major radio broadcasting networks have adhered to this format so intensively.
But one of the things that I like the most about podcasts is the freedom they give to content creators to go back to one of the most interesting features that radio broadcasting used to have: telling smaller less-known stories about individuals or places that you may not have heard before. And I’ve been focusing more on listening this kind of podcasts.
I admire those people that take some of their personal time to come up with a redesign of popular services such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. And what amazes me the most is that some of these proposals look better than the original, which kind of makes you think: “Why aren’t these people getting hired by these companies?”
Here’s a Twitter redesign proposal (by Estie Carrillo):
Programming is not only about knowing how to use specific words and abstract constructs to build a program. It is also about being able to design and develop complex structures of data and algorithmic workflows. And most of the time, these complex elements are interconnected, which means that when you decide to mess with one of them, you’re actually messing with several others.
The by-products (or side-effects) of some functions can affect the rest of your system. Thus, programmers generally need to keep a mental picture of the entire system to avoid creating bugs. That is why it is so important for a programmer to maintain complete focus while building such elements.
Derek Johnson sums it up:
Interruptions are to developers what kryptonite is to Superman—they kill productivity and there’s a significant recovery period.
I’m not a web designer, I’m a programmer. I do suffer from the typical programmer syndrome of trying to solve everything with a piece of code. But I also understand the importance of UI design and experience. I always take the opinions of the design people very seriously since I’ve seen the wondrous effect of taking their advises translated into web site visits and engagement.
This example from Reddit is just a sample of what that means.
I’ve always found Carl Sagan’s voice very hypnotic (if you haven’t yet, go listen to one of his audiobooks – one narrated by him, of course), allowing me to carry my imagination into faraway worlds.
This short film depicts some of those worlds with the ambition that only Carl Sagan’s words fuel: