Digital Pulse - 28 Jul 2023

This week our two themes are:

Quick reminder: we’re out for August because Luca is going on Holiday, lucky him. We’re also changing the format: shorter runtime, more details in the footnotes and a follow-up newsletter. Why on earth don’t you want to listen to us or see us? We’re lovely in person and on Zoom!


AWS Bedrock adds Agents - Now your future overlord can reach out to the internet and display a sense of agency. Thanks Amazon.

Amazon Bedrock now supports agents, a new, fully managed capability, that enables generative AI applications to complete tasks in just a few clicks – based on organization data and user input without any manual code. Agents for Bedrock orchestrate interactions between FMs, data sources, software applications, and users and automatically execute APIs. Developers can easily integrate the agents and accelerate delivery of generative AI applications saving weeks of development effort.

OpenAI Frontier Model Forum - What better way to build a mote than make yourself the police … who doesn’t love mixed metaphores? Anthropic, Google, Microsoft and OpenAI have announced an industry body to ensure safe and responsible development of frontier AI models - where’s xAI in all this?

We’re forming a new industry body to promote the safe and responsible development of frontier AI systems: advancing AI safety research, identifying best practices and standards, and facilitating information sharing among policymakers and industry.

Put an AI on it! - The CEO of Intel, Pat Gelsinger, has said they’re going to put AI into every platform they build. I don’t think this is a bad idea, perhaps not 100% sold. I do like the example of embedding AI in a hearing aid.

“AI is going to be in every hearing aid in the future, including mine,” he said at a different point in the call. “Whether it’s a client, whether it’s an edge platform for retail and manufacturing and industrial use cases, whether it’s an enterprise data center, they’re not going to stand up a dedicated 10-megawatt farm.”

It’s an AI bubble or maybe not - Two takes on the state of AI, the first that we’re at the start of a massive AI bubble, swiftly followed a conflicting take. I’m not a financial advisor and have absolutely no reason to weigh in … but I’m calling bubble.

Ultimately, there’s no real definition of a stock market bubble, according to Lee, and a lot of the meaning behind it is more of a psychological feeling for investors.

McKinsey feat Cohere - You’ve probably heard of the folks at McKinsey, the global consultancy firm, you may not be familiar with Cohere. Cohere is a Canadian company founded by former members of Google Brain and authors of ‘Attention is All You Need’. Read the article to find out about the new strategic alliance.

GPT4 is getting dumberer - Otherwise put as the performance has been changing and perhaps the generated code isn’t as good at it once was … or maybe you’re just imagining it. Just a friendly reminder, these things produce inaccurate results, do weird stuff - go ask Bard what 1 + 1 is.

OpenAI does acknowledge on ChatGPT’s website that the bot “may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts,” a point quite a few people probably don’t fully appreciate.

Ensure you don’t ship dud projects by overvaluing the importance of AI - Even though, as established, generative AI is real and already here, there are probably loud voices from the top to the bottom of your own organization claiming that either you need AI in everything everywhere all at once or that you should be ignoring it because “it’s a distraction.”

I love Postgres, I love Citus - Shard your database across servers, where sharding occurs at the schema level, enjoy

  • Multi-tenant SaaS applications
  • Microservices that use the same database - 🤢
  • Vertical partitioning by groups of tables

You’ve gotta spend money to make money - Lots of people wear glasses, me included. AR requires glasses … so spending money on AR isn’t a bad idea. “There are, you know, a billion or 2 billion people who have glasses today. I think in the future, they’re all gonna be smart glasses and all the time that we spend on TVs and computers, I think that’s gonna get more immersive and look something more like VR in the future,”

Only a fool would bet against Zuck and the Feta, right?

We’re doomed because of AI and data centres - but not for the reasons you may expect. Computers need to be cooled, this requires water, maybe without the sewage, right Thames Water?

Elon does AI - I guess this week he’s less bothered about it destroying the world, but he may have distractions

Happy Org

Celebrate sleeping in the office Esther Crawford is back, time to get back in the spotlight by talking about the weird shit that went down as Twitter lost staff and became an spectacle. We’re not so sure there’s stuff to celebrate here, seems like a TOXIC WORKPLACE.

Before Elon:

I was shocked by how old and bespoke the infrastructure was, but there was little will to think beyond quarterly earnings calls because we were all beholden to the masters of mDAU and revenue growth as a public company. It often felt like things were held together with duct tape and glue, and that many people had just accepted that a small product change could take months or quarters to build. Management had become bloated to accommodate career growth and the company culture felt too soft and entitled for my own taste. Healthy debate and criticism was replaced by a default refrain of “no, that can’t be done” or “another team owns that so don’t touch it”.

After Elon:

In person Elon is oddly charming and he’s genuinely funny. He also has personality quirks like telling the same stories and jokes over and over. The challenge is his personality and demeanor can turn on a dime going from excited to angry. Since it was hard to read what mood he might be in and what his reaction would be to any given thing, people quickly became afraid of being called into meetings or having to share negative news with him.

I quickly learned that product and business decisions were nearly always the result of him following his gut instinct, and he didn’t seem compelled to seek out or rely on a lot of data or expertise to inform it. That was particularly frustrating for me since I believed I had useful institutional knowledge that could help him make better decisions. Instead he’d poll Twitter, ask a friend, or even ask his biographer for product advice. At times it seemed he trusted random feedback more than the people in the room who spent their lives dedicated to tackling the problem at hand.

DHH spits the truth on hiring

GitLab’s first ESG and DIB reports - Check it out. We are fans of the GitLab.

Ford CEO talks about software - There’s a reason the software in your car sucks, the makers know it, some of them are starting to do something about it. An interesting take on the state of software and perhaps warning notes if you’ve read the statement from Intel about embedding AI in everything.

4 day week, Luca wants 3 - The stats are in, 4 day week is more productive, people are happier and businesses make money. Shouldn’t we all be happy?

Bonus link - Provocative Predictions for the Future of Tech with NYU Marketing Professor Scott Galloway . Inspiring and sad. Watch this talk, even if the data is perhaps cherry-picked.

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