Today I had the possibility to read a book a bit outside of what I do today. I used to read a lot of leadership books when I gave my old course in Start-ups. Well, enough of the history. So, I’ve read the book, and it was really nice.
It is a book about modern leadership style from Netflix. It’s written from a perspective of the manager of Netflix (Reed Hastings), but it is commented by a business school professor Erin Mayer (https://erinmeyer.com). It’s a very interesting reading as it provides an account of how leadership of Netflix has evolved over time to what it is today.
Empowerment and flat leadership structure are at the core of this style, but they evolved continuously over years. Candor was the first new leadership style that was introduced and it’s something that all organizations would use. Even universities.
I’ve read this book recently as the title and the authors caught my attention. Can you really write notes from the apocalypse? Well, turns out that the authors of this book made a very interesting twist to it.
This book is about people who prepare for the apocalypse. It takes us to a number of places where we meet people who prepare for the worse. For me, the most interesting was a guy who bought an old army bunker and prepared a reasonably priced ranch for survining after a nuclear war. Well, reasonably is still 35,000 dollars, but given that you get to live through the worse, maybe it’s not that expensive.
However, it was not the price that caught my eye. It was essentially how he marketed that shelter. The shelter itself was quite spartan, as opposed to shelter for the ultra-rich people with pools, game rooms, cinemas and what have you.
The main selling point for the shelter was not the spartan condition, it was the dream and the possibility of survival. The owner was selling people on the idea that they will be the ones to create the brave new world after the old one collapses.
I’m not certain that there would be world after the nuclear apocalypse (Chernobyl’s disaster happen 30 years ago and the area will be inhabitable for the next 200 years), but I did like the way he sold the “condos” in the shelter. Quite brilliant, actually.
AI is here to stay. We know that. It will only grow in its influence. We know that too. Especially after the release of ChatGPT we know that.
This book looks into different scenarios of co-existence between humans and AI. This is a novel view on the topic, which differentiates this book from the other of this kind. The previous view was either about some sort of doomsday theories how AI takes over the world. Well, there was also a view that AI will never really hit it off, because of the lack of conciousness and a human soul.
This book starts by looking at the historical development of humanity when a new technology was invented. First we have some limitations, which stop us from mass-using this technology. Then, we improve it and start using it a lot, which creates jobs and new markets. Then we automate it so that it can scale fast, which causes mass loss of jobs related to it.
Imagine banking – first, it was manual, which was cumbersome and error prone. Then came calculating machines, which required an army of operators who inputted simple instructions and got results. Then computers came and finally the Internet. Banks are still there, as institutions, but the job of a banker is not the same as 100 years ago. Well, it’s not really the same as 20 years ago; somewhat similar to 10 years ago, but not really.
The same goes with AI and therefore we need to lear how to co-exist with it. We can control it, or we can adjust to it or we can co-develop it and take advantage of it.
I strongly recommend this book as a reading about how to tackle the developments in AI, but more realistically, not doomsday profecy-style.
Interestingly, this is a paper from colleagues of ours from the department. The paper presents how one company – Ericsson – works with continuous deployment of their large software system in 3G RAN (Radio Access Networks). The highlights from the article are as follows:
New software field testing and validation activities become continuous.
Software deployment should be orchestrated between the constituent system.
A pilot customer to partner with is key for success.
Companywide awareness and top management support are important.
Documentation and active monitoring are critical for continuous deployment.
I like this paper because it presents a practical approach and a good set of practices that can be taken up by other companies.
Wow, when I look at the last entry, it was two months ago. Well, somewhere between the course in embedded systems for my students, delegation to Silicon Valley and all kinds of challenges, the time seemed to pass between my fingers.
Well, nevertheless, I would like to put a highlight to the article from our colleagues who specialize in defect predictions and systematic reviews. The article describes how companies use defect prediction models and when they do it.
It’s a nice sunday reading for those of you who are interested in the topic. It is a good source of best practices as well as a solid source for looking for datasets for defect prediction.
The book explains how these models work for natural language processing, but making it work for source code is trivial. Use your code instead of the provided text and there you go. You need a GPU or use some cloud service, otherwise you will wait forever.
But if you have it, you can get really cool results within a day or two.
So, the holidays are over, a new year starts, new resolutions are made, new projects started. But before we get all stuck in the work, I’d like to share a book suggestion to read on the go.
This book is about the current trends in the modern world. It discusses such aspects as the our dependency on technology, the way we use it to produce food and to make things. It talks about how the current supply chains get disrupted and what we need to do to maintain/regain the balance.
Finally, it talks about the energy, our dependence on the oil energy and on the nuclear power.
However, this is not a doomsday book, quite a contrary. It is a book about the hope in the development of the modern society and how we should contribute to it. I strongly recommend this book as a reading for the evenings, after hearing about the energy crisis. I recommend to take this book in and reflect on the fact that we have achieved a lot and the world is not as scary as the news want it to be, or create it to be.
I hope that you will enjoy the book as much as I do.
Understanding programming language is an important topic in research in the area of programming language models. I’ve written before that there are ca. 50 programming language models, which we can use in software engineering. Ok, not all of them are equivalent and they are specific to the task, but they are available, so we can use and customize them.
This article is a study done by our colleagues from the department. It’s too long to quote in detail, but there are a few things that I like. First, it’s a good overview of the types of language models:
Tree-based representation: when the program code is seen from the perspective of their Abstract-Syntax-Tree, an example is the code2vec model: code2vec
Graph-based models: when the program code is seen as a directed graph, e.g., a control flow graph
Although I like this classification, I see that it misses one of the most prominent and the most popular one – the NLP based model. It is a type of model where the program code is seen as a set of sentences that have meaning of some sort. It is a derivative of the token-based representation, but it is much more than that. CodeX from OpenAI is an example of such model.
Nevertheless, this study provides a very interesting set of examples of models and their applications. I sincerelly suggest to take a look at this paper to understand how the models work and where they are used best.
Some of you may not know, but I started my career as a software tester, so I’ve done my share of defect tracking and fixing. Although it was a while ago (well, over 20 years ago to be frank), I still remember a thing or two. I guess it is like riding a bike. One thing that I remember is that we did not really need more tests, but smarter testing.
This paper, nevertheless, proposes a new type of testing – inline testing – which is supposed to replace using printf(…) in code. Instead of printing values of variables for debugging purposes, we can use the new framework to create such small inline tests and execute them. The idea is simple and contributes to the maturity of our discipline.
By using inline tests, we can track the progress of our software development and its quality evolution. Since we can generate reports and use asserts, we could communicate our progress to quality management in a much better way.
I need to test this framework, especially that it works with Python, my new language of choice…
Cybersecurity has been, and will always be, a challenge for software systems. It is also perceived as an art when it comes to security analysis (or exploitation for that matter). There is no single tool, no single method that will make our software secure.
This article is interesting because of the way that it works. Usually, security analyzers are token-based analyzers which see programs as a set of instructions. They are very good, but they struggle with understanding the context of the analyzed program.
Let me give you an example. We’re analyzing a program for SQL injections – a very simple vulnerability. We can check that the SQL statement in the code contains any parameters. If it does not, then it’s safe – we know what we do with the database, but it’s not very common (or even useful). So, most statements will have some sort of parameters, and this is where the tricky part is. These parameters need to be validated, but this validation can be done in the same function (just before the actual SQL statement) or it can be done somewhere in the calling function/method. The check in the calling function/method is the part where token-based security analyzers give up.