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Archive for the ‘Job’ Category

Can Computers Beat Human Programmers? Part 5. Future of human programmers

Part 1. Gaining processing power
Part 2. Becoming intelligent
Part 3. Interacting with humans
Part 4. Building useful programs
Part 5. Future of human programmers

Computers don’t retire, overreact and complain. They could in minutes get all the knowledge accumulated by other computers. They could work 24 hours without making stupid mistakes. They make more and more human jobs obsolete. It is inevitable, computers will replace programmers in many areas. Even more, if Strong AI, capable of reasoning and understanding meaning, will appear, programming as a profession will be almost eliminated (at least coding part). Customers will be able to describe their needs directly to a computer. Computer AI will be translating these specifications to machine code (and stronger AI will require less formal specifications) and relentlessly building the software system.

Does it mean that that at the some point in the future software developers will no longer be needed? It could be true, if customers could specify exactly what they need and can effectively collaborate with AI to build the system. But things are not so simple, especially with non-trivial problems and humans (assuming that customers and users will be still humans). There are three roles that software specialists could play in the future even with powerful computer programming AI.

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Lost Personalities: How our company alters us

– We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.
– Yes, but the bank is only made of men.
– No, you’re wrong there- quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.

– The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Any company or large group of people is more than a sum of individuals. A company exercises control over people minds and changes them. Inside the company, organization or crowd you are no longer you, but the element of the system. You feel, think and behave differently. Collective actions are distinct and often independent of individual wills and desires. The scandal with Enron, tragedies of Abu Ghraib and Holocaust show how normal people minds could be dangerously influenced by group and context pressure.

Three stages of altering our minds:

  1. Compliance – agree with collective views or acts in front of the group, but disagree in private.
  2. Identification – temporary believe in collective view while being part of the group, but return to old beliefs after leaving a group.
  3. Internalization – the individual views are truly altered and induce permanent change in a value system even outside the group.

There are three powerful forces that change us:

  • Conformity
  • Obedience
  • Absorption

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Guide to Job Security for Software Developers: 15 Sure-Fire Methods

Job Security (my definition): perceived company’s losses of firing you are much higher than keeping you around.

I proudly present comprehensive collection of three sure-fire strategies and 15 sure-fire methods that could dramatically enhance your job security.

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How to Be Happy At Work. Short tutorial.

Then God said to Adam, “You listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree. Cursed is the ground because of you. Through hard work you will get your food, every day of your life.”

This Adam curse continues and now – we have to work hard every day to earn our food. It is inevitable fact – most of us spend at work more than half of conscious adult life. How well do you spend this half of our life? Are you unhappy, stressed or bored on your job?

Why people are unhappy at work?

  1. Conflicts with other people and especially your boss. We all humans and, surprisingly not only you, but everybody has own agenda, interests and needs. Conflicts often happen, because we forget about this. Care about people around you and you’ll enjoy their company much more.
  2. Burnout – too much pressure, too much stress, too little time to think about yourself. Stress comes from inside – we are creators of own stress. There are hundreds ways to relieve – better organization, delegation of responsibility, better communication with co-workers. External factors are most important: enjoyment from family, home, physical activity and leisure, fulfilling personal life and achievements. At the end, we work to live, not living to work.
  3. Lack of variety and challenge. And first step to have interesting and enjoyable job is to design your job.

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Programmers are lazy capricious pseudo-intellectuals. Really?

“There are very few true artists in computer programming, most are just house painters.” – Tim Bryce’s Law

Management consultant Tim Bryce doesn’t like programmers. Many programmers don’t like him either (here, here, here, here and probably in many other places).
Mr. Bryce’s view of programmers:

  • programmers often bamboozle others and heighten their own self-importance
  • the average programmer has a lower IQ than any other worker with a college degree
  • programmers show signs of sloppiness and mental laziness
  • they appear disorganized to make it difficult to judge how they are progressing on their work effort and reveal inadequacies in workmanship.
  • the typical programmer often laments he/she is being overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated.
  • to the programmer’s credit, they usually possess a curiosity about technological developments. However, this must be carefully nurtured by management – too much information may distract programmers from their job.

Responses on Mr. Bryce’s post (referenced above) provide many excellent points why Mr. Bryce is wrong. However, I want to comment points where he is probably right. Also I want to understand why some management consultants with more than 30 years of experience could have such view? Certainly, I reject Freudian view that an unknown programmer hurt feelings of Mr.Bryce in childhood (the main reason is that at this time the world had only few programmers and all of them are known).

Mr.Bryce’s target audience is not programmers (whose low IQ would probably prevent understanding his Theory P anyway), but IT managers and business decision makers. The underlying premise of Theory P is: “The more effectively we manage the people who program the computer, the better we can utilize the systems to support the information needs of the business”. This theory is not about live people, but about pragmatic business and lets consider the theory from this perspective. There are three points where Mr. Bryce could be partially right.

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