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don’t know much about technology


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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I would never describe myself as a ‘techie’. In my second year of undergraduate studies (1978) I failed my computer programming course in Fortran Watfor & Watfiv [that was with punch cards and a terminal that sent the batch to Vancouver and returned results in 24 hours] but the professor gave me a pass if I promised to never take a programming course again. I have kept true to my word all of these years.

You could say that I am not one to jump on the next technology craze. I ignored computers through the 1980s and into the 1990s. However in 1994 I saw my first website at the Computer Research Institute of Montreal (CRIM). It was a revelation. For the first time I saw how computers could connect people. During my undergraduate years nobody explained the relevance of computer programs. It was all about making some arcane program work. I could not relate my life to any of these programs. The web made sense to me.

I need to understand why I am learning something or I just tune out. For example, I was sent to French language training in the Summer of 1978. We were given an aptitude test to see how well we were suited for learning a second language [by the way, English is my second language, having spoken only German until I went to school]. There was a section of the test where a number of Kurdish words were presented and we were told to memorize them. I did not bother. As a result I did poorly on the short-term recall part of the test and was put into the ‘slow learners’ section. By the end of the language training of 13 weeks I went from unilingual to fluently bilingual, probably the only person to do so in our cohort. Part of the reason for my success was my motivation — I had a girlfriend who could not speak English ;)

The advent of the web got me into blogging and using social media. Much of the latter has turned into a mess but the ‘fediverse’ is a light in the darkness — meet me on Mastodon. I still believe in the value of connecting people and sensemaking together. The technology always takes the back seat.

Hence, I am taking a very slow approach to AI, GPT, LLM , etc. I just don’t see the inherent value. A few big players have all of the control over a ‘black box’ technology that nobody can see. I am not a Luddite — though the Luddites were awesome IMO — but I cannot jump on the AI bandwagon until I see its value. So far, I only see value accruing to a few multinational technology companies.

More thoughts on AI/GPT/LLM:​

Compter punch card for th eFortran language circa 1978

Fortran WATFIV, or WATerloo FORTRAN IV, developed at the University of Waterloo, Canada is an implementation of the Fortran computer programming language. It is the successor of WATFOR.
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