Four short links: 11 December 2018
Can We Stop?, Everything Breaks, Edge Cloud, and Molly Guard
- The Seductive Diversion of Solving Bias in Artificial Intelligence — provocative title, but the point is that the preoccupation with narrow computational puzzles distracts us from the far more important issue of the colossal asymmetry between societal cost and private gain in the rollout of automated systems. It also denies us the possibility of asking: should we be building these systems at all? The expected value of pursuing this line of thinking is pretty low because there’s a vanishingly small probability that we can coordinate activity globally to prevent something bad from happening. Exhibit A: climate change.
- Everything Breaks (Michael Lopp) — Humans will greatly benefit from a clear explanation of the rules of the game. The rules need to evolve in unexpected ways to account for the arrival of more humans. The only way to effectively learn to what is going to break is keeping playing…and learning. See also lessons learned from scaling Stripe’s engineering team.
- Terrarium (Fastly) — an interesting glimpse at a possible future for web apps, where your CDN (which you need to have anyway if you’re publishing anything remotely contentious or interesting) blurs with your hosting infrastructure provider. Terrarium is a multi-language deployment platform based on WebAssembly. Think of it as a playground for experimenting with edge-side WebAssembly. Being one of the first Fastly Labs projects, you can also think of it as our way of publicly experimenting with what the future of real highly performant edge computing could look like.
- molly-guard — protects machines from accidental shutdowns/reboots. Etymology of the name: originally a Plexiglas cover improvised for the Big Red Switch on an IBM 4341 mainframe after a programmer’s toddler daughter (named Molly) tripped it twice in one day. Later generalized to covers over stop/reset switches on disk drives and networking equipment. (via Mike Forbes)