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Anti-Resolutions for 2023


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For several years, I would write a yearly Gartner blog post with my anti-resolutions on or about January 1. They were “anti” because rather than talk about what I intended to do, I would describe what I think other people should stop doing. I stopped writing them because I was afraid they made me sound too grumpy. They have all disappeared since I stopped working at Gartner, so it is impossible to judge. I felt like doing
them again, so here they are for 2023.  

Stop Worrying About How AI Will Destroy Us

I started getting bored of SciFi books, movies and series where the AI or a robot decides to kill everyone soon after Colossus: The Forbin Project in 1970. Now that it looks like they really could do so, I still find most of these discussions boring.  Figuring out how to use the amazing capabilities of AI effectively and safely is a far more interesting discussion.

These discussions revolve around questions like who owns the technology and the answers it generates, how can we protect intellectual property when it sucks up content created by others to learn, and how do we know if content is created wholly or partly by an A. or do we even need to know?. These and 100 others are all important issues to debate, thrash out, and ultimately deal with. I purposely avoid the word “solve” here, as I don’t think there will be a single mechanism or innovation that will resolve any of these issues, much less all of them. But we can learn to control them if we resolve to do so.  

The boring discussions circle endlessly around how to stop the evil moguls behind these cursed creations from achieving their evil plans, or how to get this genie back in the bottle. Good luck with that. Those really are the wrong questions to be asking (or at the very least they are boring), so please stop it.  

Don’t Depend on Great Men to Save Us All

When I was a Gartner analyst, I always found it amusing to visit one of the tech companies led by one of the Great Men of Tech. I can remember a hush falling over the room when beefy bodyguards flowed into the room, signalling the imminent arrival of Larry Ellison at an Oracle event. I loved the look of awe that would come over acolytes when I would mention briefly meeting Bill Gates at an early Silicon Valley reception.  

By the way, I feel justified in saying Great Men because so far only maleshave accumulated the truly ridiculous baggage that I am talking about here. Carly Fiorina, Marissa Mayer and Elizabeth Holmes did their best but managed to avoid these levels of awe and expectations. I think that is a good thing.  

It is normal that the leader of a large organization will generate interest, even admiration; but the level of
expectation and wonder around people like Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban, and especially Elon Musk has grown beyond reason. There is too much evidence that shows that these are intelligent people who do smart things sometimes and also do stupid stuff. A great part of their successis inevitably down to luck. Yes, they have exhibited hard work, careful preparation and extraordinary insight. But lots of smart people work hard, plan ahead and analyze carefully without accumulating economy-busting fortunes. Everyone needs to stop assuming that they have some special god-like gift that transcends them beyond normal human experience.  

This extreme adulation also seems misplaced. Microsoft became an objectively better company after the super-sized personalities of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer left the stage for the more human-scaled Satya Nadella. As brilliant as he was at pushing product designs, it is unlikely that Steve Jobs would have led today’s Apple as well as the more even-keeled Tim Cook.  

I still think excellence and achievement should be rewarded, and don’t expect tech leaders to all be boring
apparatchiks. I am just asking for a bit of perspective, is all. A dumb idea is not smart because it comes from a smart person.  

Gendered Articles Must Fall

This one is totally unrelated to tech. Gendered articles need to be recognized as unimportant in the languages I need to speak. There, I said and I mean it. I try to speak Dutch, French and sometimes German. I adore languages and revel in the subtle differences between them. I love it when an idea is expressed
perfectly in one language but impossible to adequately translate into another.

But I have always struggled with those stupid hets, des, les, less, ders, dems, dies and dases. I made an effort to find a system, or memorize them. Sometimes I would just mumble my way past them and hope no one notices. I would feel embarrassed and inadequate when I got them wrong.  

broken image

I encourage you to join me. If you know the correct article, by all means use it. Otherwise, don’t sweat it; just randomly sprinkle het, de, le, la, der, die, das, etc. If you are listening, let it go; especially if you are a native speaker. You know what they mean.  

Avoid “Reply All”

I traditionally close this post with a request to never use Reply All, but I actually don’t feel as strongly about it as I used to. I rarely see abused distribution lists anymore. I am not sure if it is because I am outside of a big organization now (likely) or if people really are minding what they do more (very unlikely). So either keep up the good work, or get with the program.  


(C) 2023 Jeffrey Mann
Advisor at Lionfish Tech Advisors
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