Hello, S.F.

This is my first post in a while, and I want to get back into the habit of writing things on the Internet. There’s a bit of perfectionism present: do I really have something new to say? Can I adequately express the ideas in my mind? With practice, I can get better.

I’ve recently moved to San Francisco, and am getting settled here. I’ve found a nice place to live, and am exploring my neighborhood. Today I went for a long run, through Golden Gate Park, all the way to the beach. Altogether, I ran about 8 miles, door-to-door. Living in L.A., it’s hard to escape the city: runs on city streets don’t feel good to the lungs. I’m impressed at how _small_ S.F. is, by comparison, and how distinct its neighborhoods are. Public transportation here is great. There’s a lot of character and history, here, however it is not dry, in the form of historic buildings and monuments. Rather, it seems vital and alive. After a couple years of travel and not really having a place of my own, I find myself in a dynamic new life context, around ambitious, optimistic, and weird people. Weirdness seems to be celebrated, here. Those quirks are what make us unique and signal something interesting, some unique life experience, some story, something to share.

People are doing things, innovating, finding empowerment in attempts to change the ways whole industries work. Technology powers virtual marketplaces, and within these spaces new virtual products emerge and compete. When something virtual facilitates an improved process for something we do in the real world, with moving parts which include people, there’s a traction point where algorithms can become directly involved in the organization of reality. Machine learning, or artificial intelligence, is the new hot thing, having matured enough that a phase-shift is emerging in terms of the types of problems engineers are trying to solve. As a whole, we are embedded within our machines, which are embedded within us. People rush about in Amazon.com’s warehouses, at the behest of algorithms created by people. (See this RadioLab episode: “Brown Box“.)

The further problem of societal anxiety related to an ever more rapidly changing job landscape is one that technology itself can help with, and I hope more people focus attention in this direction. In other words, as more jobs which people used to do become automated by increasingly intelligent algorithms and better designed systems, people find themselves facing a future in which opportunities shift more quickly. The unique feature of our time is the nature of ever more rapid technology-fueled change. History may tend to repeat itself, particularly when we forget the past, but there is something new, here. I’d like to follow and observe this thread.

That’s all for now. I’m looking forward to reinhabiting this virtual space.

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