Berg's Words

Software and the people that make it


Computer Scientists And Engineers

Computer scientists and engineers A part of the solution to The Greatest Challenge of our Time. I remember, not so long ago, when we called what we did “computer science” and our department was named “research and development.” Granted, this was at a company that, while one of the most successful software companies in history, isn’t traditionally considered in the “big tech” club and they’ve since changed their department name to “engineering” to match the behemoths with whom they compete for “talent.” It was a sad day that their hand was so forced. Words matter and our industry suffers from...

Apology of a One-time Trump Apologist

America doesn’t exist in any real sense of the word. The greatness this country has achieved—and I do consider it the greatest boon to the condition of humanity the world has ever seen—is due entirely to our belief in the shared myths of our Constitution, institutions, and man-made, God-given rights. Yuval Harari identifies shared myths as the uniquely human means of advancing our species and the myths the Founders built the United States upon are the most sacred to all of man. In reality, any government capable of regime change or annihilation of any nuclear-armed, million man army abroad can...

The Greatest Challenge Of Our Time

The greatest challenge of our time New modes of organizational technology create and sustain empires. Ray Dalio has been discussing this empire thesis for a while and wrote about it most recently here. The Dutch created capitalism and so their empire. The English created mechanized production and kicked off the Industrial Revolution and so their empire. The United States created a system of de-centalized control and so their empire. But technology is contextual and situated. What triumphed in the past may not win now and vice versa. The modes of organization available and their efficacy exist intertwined with the technology...

Wolves And Walls

In the mist-lost days of yesteryear The wolf roamed far and wide Man, woman, and child ticked with fear For ever the pack lurked nearby From these fanged marauders did they hide Or risk with lance or perchance a rock Yet at each encounter there grew in mind The certain one-day death of their lot There arose a cry to build a wall To keep the beasts at bay Mighty they built it, strong and tall And there arose a great hooray But one held back from joyful thrall A man both wizened and grey Two sides, he reasoned, has...

Long-Hidden Hells

A beacon light A young man’s glory To stand up true for another Yet each to live his own story To give all for an idea So convinced that it would Lift up all humankind If only all understood With man next to man Neither above nor below Each to shape his own world Free to fail, free to grow This freedom for sure Faced each with disaster But reward each would reap Others’ desire named paymaster And so, the boy thought, The seeds of progress sown Enlightenment ever after But one way had we grown To the boy these...

For-ev-er

Just about every disagreement that I’ve had among intelligent professionals comes down to a question of time horizon. Should we invest in A or B? Should we take on technical debt or not? Should we build a set of general and composable building blocks to reassemble into a solution for the problem at hand or just plug away on the surface-level problem? Should we pay up for fantastic talent or settle for more mediocre hands? Should we establish prescriptive processes and rigid, top-down edicts about how and which work gets done or should we create a culture of trust and...

Convexity Rules Everything Around Me

Today was a great day. Another engineering manager from a different group in our company, working on the same product, reached out to commiserate and ask for advice about how to effectively operate as a motivated builder trying to create value and do good within a political, corporate machine. Today was a great day because I found a fellow rebel and I apparently built a reputation as an independent, apolitical getter-done-er and thinker-for-myself-er. This person wanted to know how to push back against the entrenched veto-holders keeping things as they are, slowing incremental progress, and outright halting step-function advances. The...

Shirtless April Morning

Up and out early on a green ice day Bunny path just about crosses my way Chirp in the tree, just loud as can be Not a second of still in this live world you see Cold skin don’t care, can’t bother me Flit here flit there goin tree by tree Smoke floats can’t smell just caught my eye People all right own worlds just pass on by Bush droops how can in a scene so fresh Some droop some perk some got their catch Just is no ought no yearn for more Snap fizz scatter now, hear that fire...

Blooming Of A Corporate Cog

Weebee weebee weebee. Chick chick. Tweet brrrr tweet tweet brrrr. None happier than the bird. Tweets and chirps, bleeps and brrrs cut the crisp April stillness. The humans have disappeared, their noxious noises of progress gone with them. What remains is the greenest—deepest green you’ve ever seen—grass, the high-contrast yellow of forsythia overlaid on pen and ink branches, bare just budding maple right beyond the green shoot, trimmed last fall 10’ dogwood. Birds never improved their species, their tweets can’t spell OKR. Yet while the humans hide away in warm homes, speaking to each other through panels of glass as...

Computer science and the purpose of life (or why the best computer scientists are Objectivists)

What is life and what is its purpose? Life is defined by the preservation of a bit of order in the midst of a Universe tending, inexorably, unremittingly towards disorder. Life is the temporary maintenance of a low-entropy island in an ever more entropic sea. While all the world around it is dispersing and smoothing out, life maintains barriers, along which energy is harvested from a stochastically-evolving environment. The key aspect by which life–individual, low-entropy islands–is preserved is by predicting the evolution of the environment around it and utilizing those predictions to best extract useful energy, thereby sustaining itself. So...

Ulvm Intro

Universe Level Virtual Machine An open, full-system compiler