The programming subreddits have been flooded with memes about AI replacing developers. Of course these posts are almost universally humor but the comments always have some worried opinions, typically from less experienced programmers such as CS undergrads concerned about their career prospects. I suppose I could imagine their alarm as AlphaCode placed above the 50th percentile in a coding competition and CS students typically practice similar problems to ace job interviews.
I’m a technical fellow in an AI program at MIT and I’m of the opinion that AIs replacing programmers is an almost laughable proposition. In a conversation about generative AI at the Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab, other colleagues agreed that AI won’t be replacing developers. Professor Solar-Lezama highlighted a few current capability limitations where AI falls short:
Scale: Commercial problems are large, complex, and interconnected. Even the best models cannot ingest codebases with tens of millions of lines of code in one shot.
Locality: Problems often require modifications to existing codebases in many different locations. This is beyond the ability of current AI on a large scale.
Abstraction: AI doesn’t organize code into logical units. Abstraction is one of the central principals of object oriented programming that supports reuse, maintainability, and understandability.
Lastly there is a common factor that won’t change even as AIs get better: project specification. I’ve often heard from friends in private industry that “AI will replace me as soon as the PM can accurately describe what he wants”, a jab at our fellow teammates and eternal enemies in project management. Once someone can create a specification understandable by a programming AI, they can replace a programmer. But of course creating a machine readable specification is called programming.
So what’s going to happen? In the 50s, the FORTRAN Automatic Coding System reduced development time by an order of magnitude allowing the humans to do more critical thinking instead of tedious tasks. Hopefully AI assistance will similarly allow us to focus on the real computer science, not rewriting basic functions or finding that unclosed parenthesis. And yes, you read that right, it was called the FORTRAN Automatic Coding System; we’ve been made “redundant” before.
Most people see backpacking as a frugal endeavor staying in hostels, taking cheap flights, and generally carrying everything you need to avoid thievery or luggage fees. Well I happen to like backpacking as a hobby even though I usually can afford to take luggage and secure it in a hotel. I feel like I’m going to be criticized as one of those “homeless people” that live in a luxury camper van. So what’s my gear look like now that I can make backpacking as comfortable as possible? This also pretty much answers “if you had to live your life out of a backpack what would you bring?”
The LTT Backpack: Can’t go backpacking without your backpack right? Honestly this backpack may not conform to many airline standards as a personal item so you may have to play around to see the largest most featureful bag you can bring with you. In this case the LTT backpack is durable and well designed.
Canada Goose Science Research Jacket: Promoted by Bill Nye himself, this jacket is lightweight and waterproof. It also doesn’t have fur, so you don’t need to worry about maintaining that. It’s lack of filling makes it so you can wear it everyday it’s not warm outside. The distinctive look practically mirrors the famous expedition parka so no one’s going to think you’re homeless with that giant disc badge.
North Face Packable Puffy: I mentioned that the Science Research Jacket doesn’t have any insulation so if it’s actually cold, you’ll want to put one of these on underneath. The best part, it packs into itself and doesn’t take up much room.
Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants: Waterproof and it has large ventilation zippers for hotter days.
Palladium Pampa Travel Lite Waterproof: These boots are a a good compromise between durability and weight. They look like converse so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing hiking boots, which would really make you look homeless. My favorite factoid: these were the boots famously worn by the French Foreign Legion.
Nike Dri-FIT Shirts: Or something of comparable material. These things don’t wrinkle if you roll them up and are comfortable. I’d probably get one in every color if you’re gonna be wearing the rest of the stuff daily.
Victorinox Jetsetter: You can’t bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane but this multitool in particular is bladeless. You’d be surprised how often this comes in handy. If you’re traveling for a month I almost guarantee you’ll need it for some random thing.
Microsoft Surface Pro: It’s a fully featured PC the size of a tablet for when you need to get something done that you can’t do on your phone.
The latest iPhone Pro with Adobe Lightroom: A professional camera setup in your pocket. Bring one of those collapsible selfie stick tripods too if you want pictures of yourself, no shame, you paid for this trip.
Secretlab Travel Pillow: I know this brand from gaming chairs but wow is this the best travel pillow I’ve used. In contact with your neck is a soft breathable fabric, the inside is firm enough to hold your neck, and it has a very secure strap which tightens to hold your head up.
Lastly cords, power bank, power socket converters, electric razor, toothbrush, pajamas, sunglasses, water bottle.
If you like the look of the Nike Adapt Max but either don’t want to pay a couple hundred dollars for them or don’t like the auto lacing technology, you can get the “analog” version: the Nike Air Max INTRLK. It’s obvious from the side by side that these two shoes are directly related. Though I think the Nike Adapt Max looks better, the fact that TSA precheck may flag these shoes and the enormous extra cost of the Adapt Max means I’m going to pick up the INTRLK instead. Note that the INTRLK only comes in women’s sizes but Nike’s product pages all link to a size guide to help you convert to men’s.
One of my favorite features on a Canada Goose Jacket are the internal backpack straps so you can wear your jacket on your back when inside or when it gets too warm. Sadly there’s no filter on the website for this feature and in fact it’s often omitted from the product description. Thankfully a very helpful brand ambassador listed all of the jackets with the straps for me:
So you’re in Tokyo enjoying a rare visit to Japan. You need to treat yourself to the best sushi to make it worth while. There are 16 Michelin starred sushi restaurants in Tokyo marked $$$, special occasion, on the Michelin website. I’m going to list the cheapest of those 16 restaurants with omakase in around $150. For reference a yen is worth a bit less than one US cent.
Aside: There are a few restaurants marked $$$$, spare no expense, that includes some two star restaurants. But I think a simple Michelin star would do the trick without costing me a month of rent. Plus I find that I typically spend more than the review estimate at restaurants.
Udatsu Sushi: 8,800 JPY for Lunch Omakase L1
Sushidokoro Kiraku: 12,100 JPY
Sushi Ichijo: 13,750 JPY for lunch
Sushi Matsuura: 16,500 JPY (removed because their official tabelog now lists the price at 20,000-30,000 JPY)
Sushi Keita: 17,000 – 21,000 JPY (from reviewers)
None of these can be easily booked online and I don’t speak any Japanese. I’m most intent on getting the lunch Omakase at Udatsu Sushi, it’s confirmed on their website and their official tablelog that their lunch nigiri is a very affordable 8,800 JPY. They don’t have lunch reservations available on their opentable, ikyu, or hot pepper. They also don’t pick up the phone when I call.
My Amex concierge has informed me that reservations in Japan are almost always exclusively booked through a hotel concierge. Wow their jobs really make sense over there, I’ve barely utilized hotel concierges beyond passing recommendations. Unfortunately, I’m staying at capsule hotels and I doubt they have dedicated concierges. Neither of the capsule hotels’ front desks were able to help my Amex concierge book a reservation.
The most expensive option, Sushi Keita, seems to be bookable through a service on byfood.com, a completely English website, with a 2,000 JPY fee. I’m not sure if this service is directly related to the restaurant but it looks like their selection of restaurants is at least curated.
Sushidokoro Kiraku was available for lunch reservations on pocket concierge, somedays you can only create a reservation for two. Sushi Ichijo can also be booked on pocket concierge and ikyu with a minimum of reservation for two people and it can be booked on tabelog for one person. It looks like they allow reservations about two months in advance. They also answered their phone but they don’t speak English.
Sushidokoro Kiraku accepted my reservation from pocket concierge about 5 weeks out from my requested reservation date.
Okay I’ll admit, the title is a bit misleading: the degree comes from American Military University, a private university where most military tuition assistance is spent. Though one could choose almost any program to apply tuition assistance, AMU gives military members a discount making their degrees cost exactly the amount military tuition provides. Because of this, over half of the military members in university attended AMU, at least this was the case when I worked at an Air Force Education Center in 2020.
And AMU has rolled out it’s most exciting degree yet, a Bachelors Degree in Esports. The military values education in its promotion and commissioning boards. Though exactly what degree you get often doesn’t matter, it just checks a box. I can think of multiple pilots with degrees in political science and space officers with degrees in sociology. So if you need a degree, any degree, why not get one that’s free with tuition assistance and in a subject area you’re passionate about? I’ve already got my degrees but in another life I would’ve loved to have done this program.
The military has a long history of using Esports and videogames for recruitment efforts. We have team jerseys and internal tournaments to select our pro teams. High level players can be paid to train and attend Esports tournaments through the same program as military Olympians. The Space Force, the smallest military branch by far, won the 2021 interservice Call of Duty tournament, the CODE bowl, then launched the trophy into space (kinda, it probably fell short of the Karman line). Semper Supra!
Ever want to go to a ball? Like a real one? Well the most famous ones are in Vienna, they host about 400 every winter and have the strongest “ball culture”. But what if you didn’t want to make the trip to Europe? Well according to old tales of the internet there are two Viennese balls in the United States sponsored by the city of Vienna, about as legit as you can get. One of them is hosted right here at Harvard by the Kennedy School in conjunction with the Harvard Club of Vienna. It’s called the McCloy Viennese Ball and it’s hosted every year in the winter at the Harvard Club of Boston.
I’d be confident enough to call this a “real” Viennese ball, just a bit remote from the others in the city of Vienna. I’m not sure what other balls are officially sponsored by the city but I’m going to cross “go to a Viennese ball” off my bucket list with this technicality.
If you want to be like Goku chances are you’ll be spending a few grand on a second hand Supreme X North Face By Any Means Necessary jacket. Many people would know the jacket as North Face’s most recognizable product, the Nuptse. This makes it a common item for collaboration with brands like Gucci. Though the all black colorway is closest to Goku’s, this jacket is most commonly seen and recognized in a two tone colorway.
The Nuptse starts at $320 even without any hypebeast collaborators, a hard sell for most people especially if you’re not in love with retro fashion. I’ve only seen the Nuptse on sale once at Pac Sun.
It’s not very well known but North Face sells another similar puffy called the Nordic. You can’t find it on their website and there are few online listings of it. The Nordic has bomber style collars and cuffs with four colored panels instead of three making the black part shorter. The difference is obvious with the pictures here but in person everyone is going to think you’re wearing the classic North Face jacket. Here’s the deal: the Nordic is on Amazon for low as $170 depending on the color / size and it’s also found at outlets for $160. It’s basically a half price Nuptse.
The picture here makes the black section at the top look oddly short but in person the jacket’s style looks correctly proportioned. Fun fact: The 92 Nuptse has like three and a half colored panels, the more common 96 Nuptse has three.