AI is not a silver bullet.

This morning I happened across a new publication called Futurism. Doesn’t it always make the day better when you come across a new journal?

Anyhoo, scrolling through the homepage this headline caught my eye—Sam Altman's Right-Hand Man Says AI Is Overhyped. Sam being the Sam who was fired from OpenAI, hired by Microsoft, quit his job at Microsoft, and went back to take over OpenAI all within 24 hours. Damn, the job market is so crazy stupid right now.

Back on topic. I love this statement about the state of AI and the Enterprise:

In an interview with CNBC, OpenAI COO and CEO Sam Altman's right-hand man Brad Lightcap said that certain aspects of AI are "overhyped," especially when it comes to the sky-high expectations of the company's enterprise AI customers.

"And there’s almost never a silver bullet answer there — there’s never one thing you can do with AI that solves that problem in full," he said. "And I think that’s just a testament to the world being really big and messy, and that these systems are still evolving, they’re still really in their infancy."

While I was at IBM I worked with a few engineers on Watson AI-powered projects. I learned a lot, especially their disdain for the people in marketing. At the time, IBM ran a lot of advertising featuring Watson as a simple device that could solve all kinds of very complex challenges easily.

Customers were excited and came to IBM in droves with massive problems expecting to hook up the magic box and solve all of them within seconds. In reality, Watson couldn’t do many of the things it was advertised to do because it wasn’t mature enough and almost all of the time the customer's legacy systems were in such a state that simply hooking up AI wasn’t an option, and it’s still not. Mostly because the data on the customers end is so messy and scrambled across so many systems that the cost-benefit doesn't work out.

This left the engineers in a very awkward position of having to burst all of the bubbles and bring customers back to Earth as gently as possible. Nobody likes doing that, least of all, engineers who are so often put in that position.

It’s interesting that seven years later, the problem still stands. AI is not a silver bullet and engineers are still left to the task of busting bubbles. Some things never change.


Don’t throw in the towel, but raise it as a flag.

We finished lunch early and headed back to our Airbnb. Almost to the house, an undercover cop car sped through traffic in the opposite lane. It was startling to see the all-black vehicle with distinctive lights seemingly come from nowhere and vanish similarly. My first thought: Whatever they are responding to is not good.

For the last five weeks, we have been residents in a very peaceful Las Vegas suburb. The area reminds us of a much more relaxed version of Orange County, California where we lived for ten years. Traffic is relatively light, people are very friendly and of course, the weather is fantastic for this time of year.

About an hour after getting home a notification popped up with news of an active shooter situation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas—About 20 minutes north of our position. And then it clicked, that’s why the cop car was traveling at insane speeds. They were responding to the crime.

This morning I read that a 67-year-old white male asshole decided to seek revenge for not being hired as a professor at the school. I’m sure next of kin, neighbors, and former colleagues will either say he was the nicest guy, but mostly quiet or that he was always a little-off and kinda angry. Either way, another person decided that they had no other way to respond to their situation other than death. I’m angry but I’m also incredibly sad that this person felt it was the only way out.

Before yesterday afternoon I have had thoughts and slight anxiety about the weeks ahead. The holidays are already a rough time of year to get through, but there are so many folks who have had compounding problems. And this year has not helped anyone at all.

Knock on wood, I haven’t lost anyone to depression directly, but I have friends and acquaintances who have. I have felt their tangible grief. I hate having to write this post but I’m concerned and my heart compels me to say that I hope you are okay right now but if you’re not, let me or someone else know. Do whatever you can to get some help. Walk into a fire department if you have to! In addition to receiving care, maybe they’ll show you around and how cool is that?

I hope you are all well. I hope that this post never needed to be written in the first place and you’re all good, but my gut is telling me that’s not the case. Don’t spend the next weeks alone or in agony. Don’t throw in the towel, but raise it as a flag.

Also, consider getting a cat or two.


"Why We’re Dropping Basecamp."

Duke University Libraries wrote about their decision to migrate to a different project management tool after 10 years. The post is a well-articulated teardown of 37signals co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson’s opinions posted over the course of two years.

We at Duke University Libraries have decided to stop using the project management platform, Basecamp, to which we have subscribed for almost a decade. We came to this decision after weighing the level of its use in our organization, which is considerable, against the harms that we see perpetuated by the leadership of Basecamp’s parent company, 37signals. As a result of our discussions, we will not renew our current subscription when it ends in December. 

I’m not a wild fan of 37signals but I have to admit using it recently for a project or two because a colleague had a fully paid account which saved some time and the pain of creating yet another account somewhere else. As I read through Duke’s thoughts on Basecamp leadership it somehow gets worse.

Hansson takes glee in the mass layoffs of tech workers in late 2022. He imagines that they were the group “from whom the DEI movement drew its most active and engaged disciples,” and seems to be delighted that “hundreds of thousands” of tech workers will be out of work – “perhaps for quite a while!” – and therefore “the most fervent ideologues among them” will be unable to find work. The implication is unavoidable, that he and perhaps other tech bosses might blacklist workers who have records of advocating for more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

My wife lost her job this year because a majority of employees at her workplace sought to unionize to protect the company’s support of DEI and LGBTQIA+ initiatives. None of which came from fervent ideology unless you consider The United States Constitution as such. My wife did not deserve to be laid off. Nobody did and the whole incident is under review by the National Labor Board. Like most of her former colleagues she is having an incredibly difficult time finding work. 

Hell, everyone is having a hard time finding work. Full-time roles, client projects, nobody I know is immune to the negative impact this employment recession in technology is enduring. So to read that David takes joy in the financial and mental health misery of others while bragging about the many luxury cars he's owned in another blog post? Dude, he's just plain, pure evil. Like Google Evil. And I crown him the King Asshole of Asshats. 
37signals should rename the company 3signals because that’s about as deep as their intellect and empathy extends. I would re-write their homepage copy as follows:

  1. We’re insecure and ignorant
  2. Bigotry pays well.
  3. Make it white.

Tomorrow I’m turning off Basecamp as soon as I’ve migrated off of it for good. I let their bullshit slide once and I’m sorry I did but I will not make that mistake again. Bye-bye dumb dumbs.


“I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line. It’s even come out of my mouth on occasion. It’s can’t speak for others but for me it’s not a matter of not knowing what to do, more like, I don’t know which interest I should prioritize. I envy those folks who found that one thing that drives them either through interest or opportunity. Like Neo sees the Matrix, I see opportunity everywhere and I chase them like a dog chases a squirrels. It’s not so much a matter of FOMO as it is interesting to go down the many paths of what could, might, and sometimes, should be.

This thought comes from my own reflection of all of the things I have pursued in roughly the last calendar year. From full-time jobs to new businesses and, ugh, additional hobbies. You might insert a joke about ADHD to which I would laugh and wonder if you’re right, but this year I have refrained from many distractions and tried to hold back only digging into the opportunities that I know from experience would turn into another passing phase.

Ryan Rumsey recently shared an article about minimum viable products vs. minimum viable tests (MVP vs. MVT). And that sums up exactly what I have done throughout the year—dig into something enough to turn ideas into copy and images. Put it out into the world, talk about it, and gauge the interest. It’s the difference between trying to create a new way to fish vs. using a new, intriguing lure.

I’ve had a handful of ideas this year that I tried to promote on LinkedIn, met with potential clients, did the road show and nothing has hit. After a year of no hits, a younger me would have started to take it personally but this year it’s not me. There are so many frozen budgets and head counts that I’m starting to wonder if all this freezing might offset global warming by a degree.

Yet I move forward at a casual pace because eventually the world will reconfigure and new opportunities will introduce themselves if you’re out in the crowd looking to meet them. With that in mind, today I announced my next attempt at consulting. It’s called Same Team Partners and, frankly, it’s the business I should have created after my time at InVision. By that time I had observed and experienced a solid set of patterns that are behind the core of problems facing leaders, teams, and organizations.

This is not to say I don’t have more to learn, but my view of the world has been validated many times over at all size and scale. Now it’s time to go to work and start making everything work better.


Even better than the real thing.

Last Wednesday Brett Harned and I took our wives to experience U2 playing at the Sphere. TL;DR: Wow! Magnificent! U2 is still amazing and the Sphere’s debut is incredible.

I have no doubt there are hundreds of articles and blog posts about the experience. Hell, there are bootlegs of the entire show bouncing around YouTube if you want to get a TikTok-sized glimpse. So I'll stick to a few unique observations.

In any other place—with the exception of Hong Kong—the Sphere would certainly dominate the city skyline. Tucked into Vegas it feels like a curious addition to the existing, over-the-top gigantic light features all vying for attention It will definitely dominate the televised coverage of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in a few weeks. The Sphere is a new, incredible wonder of the world and I hope to see more performances there in the future. Especially as they figure out how to really use all of the technology. Today it feels like playing a new game on a new game console (PS3 > PS4 > PS5). A huge improvement from the generation before, but the games only give a glimpse of what’s possible. The same will be true about the Sphere.

Having said that the show did not disappoint and U2 rocked—they haven’t lost a beat or a note. The band showed no signs of slowing down and it’s incredible to see how far they have come.

One pleasant surprise was the ambient music playing in the lobby (the sound was incredible there too). At first, I thought it was just any other chill mix, but after a few songs in it was clear these tracks were made from elements of Achtung Baby. Both Brett and I commented on wanting to buy an album but we did not find anything at the merch tables.

Back at home, I found some background and a full tracklist. Even better, someone posted Space Baby, the entire LP on YouTube. After a minute or two I was easily able to download the file, convert it to audio, and start playing on the HomePods. Now I just need to replace all of my lights with blacklight and I’ll have my own HomeSphere™. Joking aside, I hope U2 digs into their back catalog and produces more of these alternative takes on all the songs we love.

I wholeheartedly recommend the show and the entire experience. As I post this, U2 has added two more months to their residency. This is the perfect time for YOLO. You’ll be glad you did.