Weekly Links: AI, APFS, and MBA Mondays
Trying out a new thing here to document 3 links that caught my interest over the past week. Sometimes they might be related, sometimes not. It’ll be an experiment to journal the things I was reading at the time, for posterity.
Good piece from Ben Thompson comparing the current developmental stage of machine learning and AI with the formative years of Claude Shannon and Alan Turing’s initial discoveries of information theory. They figured out how to take mathematical logic concepts (Boolean logic) and merge them with physical circuits — the birth of the modern computer. With AI we’re on the brink of similar breakthroughs. Thompson does well here to make clear the distinctions between Artificial General Intelligence (what most people think of when they hear the term, things like Skynet) and Narrow Intelligence (which is all we have currently, AIs that can replicate human thinking in a narrow problem set).
Apple announced their new APFS file system at last year’s WWDC, and this week launched it as part of the iOS 10.3 update. Their HFS+ file system is now 20 years old, but file systems aren’t something that you change lightly. They’re the core data storage and retrieval engine for computers, and massively complex. APFS is engineered with encryption as a first-class feature and also includes enhancements for SSD-based storage. The most amazing thing to me about this story is the guts it takes to make a seismic change like this to millions of devices in one swoop. It’s the sort of change that is 100% invisible to the average iPhone owner if it works, and could brick millions of phones if it doesn’t. Working in a software company building mission-critical software, it takes serious planning, testing, and skills to deploy risky changes like this to move your platform forward. Kudos to Apple for pulling off such a monumental and thankless change.
I’ve read Fred Wilson’s AVC blog for some time, but only through post links that make the rounds. Recently I discovered his archive of “MBA Mondays” articles covering tons of business topics. He’s got pieces on budgeting, cash flow, equity, M&A, unit economics — tons of great stuff from someone learning and practicing all of this in reality. Much more digestible than textbook business school material. I’m gradually making my way through the archive from the beginning and really enjoying it.