What I’d Feared for The Tech Sector
Years ago I got into technology, specifically software development and programming. I also had worked within the infosec, networking, and operations side of the industry for a while. But I’d always kind of focused on and emphasized in my career the work I did, and do within software development.
One of the things I’ve realized recently is a massive change in the industry. The technology sector, especially what is so often associated with the startup scene, has become old industry. It is on the verge of being just like other heavily regulated, unionized, slower moving, and by necessity, less innovative industries (do NOT get me wrong, all industries, even the most regulated continue to try to progress, it just becomes exponentially more difficult). The key thing to note, is the oft agile, quickly moving, intuitively inventive, progressive and out of the box thinking of software development has become dramatically more similar to something like building architecture; regulated, limited, and demanded upon by society.
These changes have been coming for a long while, since more and more of the world has been taken over by software and the computers that run the software. We’re on the verge of having so many automated things that most of humanity will know no more about the software automated nature of the things (re: automated cars, etc) then they do about internal combustion engines (they’ve been around for 160 years)
This is a time where the technology future isn’t unknown, the paths have started to be more identified and clear, and dictated to in the extreme. The Government is more involved; regulators, legislators, lawyers of every ilk, patent trolls, and more. You name it, the people who make capitalism and independent action in a market a nasty business are all at the table these days. I mean, even the nastiest of them all tried to have a tech council, but that even fell apart on dearest leader Trump.
So… ya know…
Good Riddance to Doom & Gloom
I just wrote this and realized I’d painted a pretty droll and dreary future for us developers and technologists. I’m inherently a positive person about the future, but I know the national leadership down to the rank and file citizens of this country have left me in a droll and dreary present. Thus the old pyre of depression sinks in and all of a sudden the future I can see is droll and dreary.
But really, there’s hope, and so often humanity actually thrives, succeeds, and perseveres when the cards are stacked against us. But being realistic, there are some pretty staunch hands stacked against humanity these days. We’ve got our work cut out for us.
Striving to Prepare for Tomorrow
So where do we — the tech sector — as an industry go? Where do I go? I myself am not sure, I’m in the process of lining up 2018 as I write this (more on this really soon). I’m studying algorithms, looking at multitudes of industries, and trying to figure out what the future holds. What industry is actually going to take us forward into tomorrow without decimating and wrecking that very future?
The current national leadership doesn’t have a clear plan and has tried to thrash the economy into a near convulsed state to again become more reliant on coal, more oil, and other arcane forms of energy we still have a noose around our necks with. They apparently disregard the tech sector, nor seem to understand it or the rise of the clean energy sector. Eventually they’ll be gone, which hopefully our republic won’t be, and we’ll be able to again lead forward into the future. Fight to strive for industries and efforts that are the innovative, inventive, creative, builders of a better, hopeful, exciting, and clean world for ourselves.
How can I, as just one of many players in the technology sector have affect and effect in a way that prepares us for tomorrow more effectively? How can I find the traits of the industry again that I loved so much? That innovative, inventive, creative, builder structured mentality of thinking, learning, and pushing forward? The current industry seems to be as much of a roadblock to itself as the future, so I’m trying to think of ways in which I myself, and any of us can lead to better lives but still harness and enjoy those things that made us love and want to work within this industry.
…and yeah, I have a few thoughts on the matter. Which I’ve ordered by what I’m confident is the priority we need to resolve them in order to truly advance society to a more sustainable, equitable, and positive future. Not that all of these things shouldn’t be worked on right now, because they all should absolutely be!
Energy & Economic Challenges
Before we as a species can really continue thinking about the future, at least in any honest and truly long term (like say greater than 25 years even) we really need to get a handle on how we run economic systems and especially how we provide power and logistics for the planet. We’ve set ourselves up for some pretty immediate and deadly energy problems now and in the coming years. The best news is there are legitimate solutions on the table, but we’ve got to get them built!
One of the solutions, which isn’t talked about very often, is that we simply can and should use less energy. Look at much of what we’ve done in the past 50 years. Gone from 8 mpg in a car to almost 22 in a giant SUV while many cars can sustain 40 or more mpg. Even better we are moving steadily, albeit to slowly, toward electric energy for cars and road transportation. In buildings we’ve gone from houses that can barely maintain a steady temperature without extensive use of electricity (which is often in the US, created by coal). But new houses can maintain a steady temperature with a minimal amount of energy used. All of these are pretty significant advances, but there are more coming sooner in some cases then we might realize.
Tesla, Ford, and GM are all working toward advances in these realms. In railroading, well, they are and have been there for many decades. But the future may hold even more clean options for our logistical needs in this country and around the world. Hopefully it keeps moving forward as it is, and reaps the huge potential benefits that can be found there.
I keep working on and providing, when possible, options and assistance in this industry. I’m by no means a full time logistics or planner person, but my interest and fields of study often take me to work side by side with individuals in these industries. As technology moves further into freight, passengers logistics (re: cars, trains, planes, etc) I’m likely to be involved and happy to be involved in any way I can.
Housing, Technology, and Markets
The notion, and especially the nonsense, behind Government controlled markets, housing, and capitalism is under heavy attack these days. From ideological means to actual assault in the legislatures of the nation and states of this country and unfortunately, more than a few others (re: Brexit, etc).
Much of the arguments form around equity, many others around the now decimated middle class since labor work is starting to be such a small part of the overall world economy. We have the proverbially defined sharing economy taking off, but it is in many ways a kind of race to the bottom for many of those working that economy as a way of life.
At the same time we have a greedy, glutenous, and excessive use of housing space and construction focused around single family homes. Meanwhile (read “Color of Law” for more on these following comments) we know with extensive historical understanding that neighborhood divisions, people segregation, and auto dependency is almost all pervasively enforced by zoning that limits most modern construction to trashy apartments and cheap, ticky tacky single family home housing. This has left many cities, where the majority of people continue to move to for entertainment, life, and work, with a severe and expensive housing shortage.
The advances in building construction, technology, and an almost complete tear down of societal neighborhood associations and Governmental zoning is required to fix these extensive housing shortages. We have to build, and regardless of economic mode (communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, or whatever) we need more housing in cities, and the advancement of technologies along with changes to our societal organization of zoning must occur. I write must, but really it will, as it’s being forced regardless of how much opposition some push up against it. Simply we must make way for the future. What we do dictates if that future will be a good one, or one that is crumbling in our very hands as we try to build it.
I’m involved, here in Seattle (and still some when I can in Portland) to move this issue forward. The old ideas around forced segregation through zoning must die, but we also must repair our thinking and infrastructure around housing, zoning, and how and in which way we can live effectively. Cities like Seattle, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Vancouver BC, Portland, and others like them hold the answers and will push those forward.
Misogyny, Sexism, Racism, Bigotry…
I have lots of friends. I recently was curious and checked the overall demographics. I must do well to make friends across barriers, as the demographic range of friendships I enjoy are as diverse as the very population of the United States. I am thankful for and extremely happy that I can call so many of you friends, that we’ve all broken down, destroyed, and insured none of these societal constraints prevent our friendships.
But that doesn’t mean my network of friends, family, and loved ones throughout the world are representative of what everyone gets to experience. More barriers need destroyed, more equity needs to be found, more opportunity needs to be made available, and more lives need to be freed from petty constraints in order to help all of society move forward to a better future. The technology sector, even in it’s increasingly matured state, still has a massive and dramatic hand to play in this card game of success.
The issues, in tech and of course elsewhere, and unfortunately etched into the fibers of our entire society still need a lot of work. Let’s say, it’s easily the nastiest and most difficult refactoring of society ever. Today it needs to be intelligent, but there’s still the fights that will bring about the change, the laws that will and need to be broken, and in general, there is pain to be had. But for all of us people, this is a fight, this is pain that will endure, but intelligently we must make our world a better place.
I ask myself as everyone should; what are my biases, transgressions, and how can I insure to be a better soul today, tomorrow, and onward. How can I help others not plod forward and make ignorant, damaging, and hurtful biases and transgressions? How can I use my abilities, my privilege, and my status in various fields — not just in my tech domain — but in the city I live, the local community, the neighboring communities, and the are throughout that I influence and have some effect on?
I read and learn steadily about these topics, read from other people and persons perspectives about the world, history and how and what really happened (first step, toss that trash show they teach in public schools! To much of it is blatantly wrong and misguided!). Knowing what my fellow citizens’ actions hurt others, and also what accomplishments they did make, and how it all shaped where we are today is extremely important in bringing together people. I’ll likely write a lot more on this topic in the coming year, as my study on the topic has become more intense these days. There is indeed, a lot we all have accomplished (from jazz and blues of the delta feeding the soul and heart of America to the spikes we laid for the railroads, to the rockets we launched, the math it took, and the way we reshape our cities to make the better for all people today).
Right now I’m wrapping up 2017 and these ideas were running through my mind as I wrote some code. I found it funny that I was being productive writing the code, getting the problems resolved, but all these rather complex topics were rolling around in my mind on background threads. In an upcoming post I’ll be delving into those parts of the tech industry I love so much, that I hope won’t be squelched out in the coming years. I’ll aim to structure and formalize some of the passions, projects, and efforts coming up in 2018. Until then, hope all goes well with you and yours, cheers!