Blockchain is entering the valley of despair phase, and that’s a mistake

 I’ve had a number of conversations with blockchain-focused people over the past few weeks. In some of those conversations — particularly with engineers — there is a palpable excitement and a belief that this technology is going to end up being their life’s work. As one blockchain hacker told me this past week, “It’s going to be a multi-decade long battle… Read More

Algorithmic zoning could be the answer to cheaper housing and more equitable cities

 Zoning codes are a century old, and the lifeblood of all major U.S. cities (except arguably Houston), determining what can be built where and what activities can take place in a neighborhood. Yet as their complexity has risen, academics are increasingly exploring whether their rule-based systems for rationalizing urban space could be replaced with dynamic systems based on blockchains,… Read More

Engineering against all odds, or how NYC’s subway will get wireless in the tunnels

 Never ask a wireless engineer working on the NYC subway system “What can go wrong?” Flooding, ice, brake dust, and power outages relentlessly attack the network components. Rats — many, many rats — can eat power and fiber optic cables and bring down the whole system. Humans are no different, as their curiosity or malice strikes a blow against wireless hardware… Read More

Digital nomads are hiring and firing their governments

 The nation state has survived wars, plagues, and upheaval, but it won’t survive digital nomads, not if people like Karoli Hindriks have something to say about it. Hindriks is the founder of Jobbatical, a platform that allows digital nomads to find work in other countries and helps with the logistics of getting there. The company also embodies a new world of highly-skilled, global… Read More

HR has lost the trust of employees. Here is who has it now

 Human resources has to be one of the greatest bait-and-switch professions one can join today. HR departments position themselves with a forward-facing fluffy image, whether improving the productivity of workers through training and development programs or perhaps righting the yawning inequality gap in America by encouraging diverse hiring standards. Unsurprisingly, the field often attracts… Read More

The real consequences of fake porn and news

 There is a movement underway to ban involuntary pornography, videos that use machine learning libraries like TensorFlow to superimpose faces of unwilling participants onto porn actors’ bodies. Yesterday as TC’s Taylor Hatmaker noted, Reddit published a content policy banning such images and video, while also shutting down a series of subreddits devoted to the practice. Pornhub… Read More

Hate your boss? B12 is designing work without (human) managers

 Online labor marketplaces have been around since the dawn of the internet. Post a task, select a worker, verify the work, and submit a payment. There are dozens of companies that broker labor services, and the rise of these marketplaces has been a large factor in encouraging as many as a third of American workers to become freelancers. While finding individual workers for simple tasks is… Read More

The rise of chaos engineering

 How do you build reliable software? It is a question that has been at the top of my mind the past few weeks, as I seem to be increasingly confronted by software that just doesn’t work anymore. Bugs, crashes, errors, data leaks: they are so common in our every day lives that they can seem completely unremarkable. The existing tools — unit tests, application performance monitoring,… Read More

The legacy of Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who passed today at 91

 One of the great entrepreneurs of the 20th century, Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, passed away today. As Reuters pointed out in its short biography, Kamprad created a store — as a teenager mind you — that today has more than 400 locations, revenues of $62 billion, and a cultural ubiquity that very few consumer products could ever hope to attain. Having read the IKEA story… Read More

Move slow and break nothing

 Facebook Messenger was down for me for about an hour earlier this week. My MacBook Pro randomly kernel panics overnight and restarts. Slack was down, and Github, and AWS. A little more than a year ago, Dyn went down, throwing the DNS layer of the internet into a tailspin. Practically every chip made by Intel has serious security flaws. Equifax leaked 143 million accounts. Tokyo-based… Read More