QCon London And Tech Ethics in Action

 

Alternative Text by Anne Currie

My interest at the moment is in web scale and its ramifications. I’m interested in the way current tools, especially IaaS, CI/CD and microservices are vastly increasing the velocity at which new products and features get to market (500-1000x) and the speed at which they can be scaled. I’m particularly fascinated by the ramifications of this fast progress, and whether we are de-risking product development at the expense of increased cultural risk and how we should handle that.

So, talks that stand out for me are:

DEVELOP YOUR DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE by Jessica Kerr

Jess is always a great speaker and I’ll be interested to hear how new DevOps tools have increased feature velocity in her experience and what organisational changes that has generated.

Then I’ll probably go for
BIGGER, FASTER AND MORE SECURE by Laura Bell

Laura’s talk sounds like it addresses one of the issues we know we have, how do we keep services secure while moving fast and getting big.

After that, it’s easy
FROM ROCKS TO RUST: OUR C TO RUST PARADIGM SHIFT by Esther Momcilovic

Esther is a young, recent developer and a new speaker to the conference circuit. I’m keen to hear what the newest generation of engineers expect from languages and products and how they go about learning them – particularly notoriously difficult languages like Rust.

Now I’m very torn but I think I should give the men some support
TAKING BACK “SOFTWARE ENGINEERING” by Dave Farley

Dave will be giving a challenging and controversial talk about whether we should start thinking of development as engineering again rather than craft. I suspect this will contribute to the debate about how we scale safely. Can craft be scaled? Should it? Are we misleading ourselves about what we do?

Next I’ll move to a new track to look at a recent area where literally moving faster has made us less safe
HOW PERFORMANCE OPTIMIZATIONS SHATTER SECURITY BOUNDARIES by Moritz Lipp

Moritz will be looking at hardware exploits like Meltdown.

Finally, I’ll be at
FAST, FLEXIBLE AND FUNCTIONAL PROGRAMMING WITH OCAML Anil Madhavapeddy & Gemma Gordon
Just because I enjoy Anil’s style, even if realistically I’m personally unlikely to ever program in OCAML 🙂

So, that’s a full Monday. What about Tuesday?

Nothing in tech is likely to rapidly change our lives and culture so much as self-driving cars
INSIDE A SELF-DRIVING UBER by Matt Ranney

I’ll therefore be going to Matt’s talk about the future of transport.

I’ll then probably want to talk to some people about what I’ve learned so far, so I’ll head over to the
BUILDING GREAT ENGINEERING CULTURES OPEN SPACE

Next, a challenging talk on scalable architectures from the always watchable Adrian
LAMBDA ARCHITECTURES: A SNAPSHOT, A STREAM, & A BUNCH OF DELTAS by Adrian Trenaman

After that I want to find out what Google are about to enable us to do with ML at scale
MACHINE INTELLIGENCE AT GOOGLE SCALE by Guillaume Laforge

For the rest of the day, I want to see what appears in the engineering culture track!

The final day is easy for me, I’ll be co-hosting the Technical Ethics in Action track:
A YOUNG PROFESSION COPING WITH ETHICAL DEBT by Theo Schlossnagle

I’m looking forward to Theo, a great combination of hardcore engineer and highly articulate veteran, map out where we are on learning how to make ethical decisions as developers.

ETHICAL TECH – A PSYCHOLOGIST’S PERSPECTIVE by Alexander Steinhart

Alex will be talking about his dark past working on algorithms that addict the user, and his whitehat present using those skills for (hopefully) good. Given the recent revelations of user manipulation in FB, Twitter etc.. this should be both interesting and timely.

SMASHING PANDORA’S BOX SAFELY by Yanqing Cheng

Yanqing is a brilliant speaker on the ethics of new technology from a young engineer’s perspective. I always find her talks utterly thought provoking and different to my own thinking, which is both useful and challenging..

Next will be the Ethics Panel, which I’ll chair. We should have heard some fascinating ideas to debate!

Last but not least
MACHINE LEARNING AND ACCESSIBILITY PRESENTATION by Tim Kadlec

Tim will deliver an electrifying talk on accessibility and the difference it can make to so many lives now the availability of tech has reached such global scale.

Finally, we end on a high with world famous psychologist Richard Wiseman talking about his work on luck and how is it not quite as uncontrollable as we think. I love his book on the subject (“The Luck Factor”) and I am fascinated by the parallels between CI/CD, microservice architectures and observability and his behavioural observations on what makes individuals lucky. Will you spot them? This session is open to friends and colleagues.

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