“Best thing you can do is practice, practice, practice and keep making fake projects until they become real…”— Lance Carlson @thelancecarlson
How did you get your start in development? And how did that help you with what you do today?
Good morning Ryan and thanks for considering me!
It’s hard to pin point the exact point at which I became a developer. I had the luxury of starting to code as a kid and had lots of uninterrupted time at the computer to explore and learn make things without judgement.
I started off by learning HTML from a book and a website called webmonkey. Realizing my interest in it, my dad sent me to computer at the U of Michigan. That’s where it started and I kept finding projects and never stop coding.
Thanks for being here and for agreeing to go first. Follow-up question: what types of degrees or certifications have you obtained over your career?
No degrees or certifications! In high school I was already maintaining a php+mysql backed StarCraft website that received 2-3k uniques per day and was charging people to do their small business websites. When I went to community college, I was working as a consultant for various design agencies and realized I probably didn’t need to get a degree.
Next Question: currently, what is one area of tech that really excites you? And why?
AI! We are at a point in history where AI reminds of the 90s Internet. There have been AI hype cycles in the past, but this one feels like less hype and more application.
I’ve been fascinated by AI and the technological singularity for sometime. Reading Ray Kurzweil’s book really put in perspective for me a timeline for all of these advancements and Chat GPT’s release felt like a confirmation of it.
The mix of emotions I felt when I realized for the first time that Chat GPT could code was surreal. I realized that I should probably figure this thing out if I wanted to remain relevant for the next 10 years.
People worry about losing their jobs to AI, which I think is a very real possibility in the next 10 years, but in the meantime, if you look at progress in the lens of technological singularity, you at least have a roadmap that can help you decide where you should be skilling up.
In your opinion @thelancecarlson , what, if anything, scares you about AI?
AI Alignment is a big deal! I know it’s in the news a lot of the coverage misunderstands the problem AND the solution. I’ve been a member of an organization called the GATO framework since it’s founding because I wanted to help prevent skynet and I think it’s a solid foundation to start from. It can be found at gatoframework.org.
How are you using AI in your daily life and work?
I use copilot and chat gpt to code on a daily basis. I use chat gpt on a daily basis to synthesize data and thoughts. I use it for marketing… I mean.. what don’t I use it for? 🙂
What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to get into a development career? These can be Websites? Blog? People? Books? Videos?
I’m not entirely up to date on the latest resources, but if you’re looking to get into web development specifically, I’d say you should pick up Ruby on Rails. All junior developers should read the book “The Pragmatic Programmer”. If I knew exactly what the goals were of the developer, I could give better, more tailored advice. Best thing you can do is practice, practice, practice and keep making fake projects until they become real or you get hired into helping with a real one!
Just make it fun! Maybe assign some pressure to make it go live sometimes, but even if it goes no where, those prototypes are just like your reusable scraps you cand take with you into other fake or real projects. Then you just get faster and more competent each time around.
You profile says you own a business in Fintech. What does that business do?
My Fintech company is called HealPay. I bootstrapped it with my business partner 13 years ago. We cater to large billers who need assistance with getting consumers to pay their bills online. A large portion of those billers are collection law firms. Our innovative angle is that we’re able to deliver customized payment options to the consumer directly online without having to call and talk to an agent over the phone. Consumers LOVE this.
Another Question: What topics should a developer learn to be prepared for a future with tools like ChatGPT?
Well first you should be using Chat GPT daily to understand how it works and get better at prompt engineering. You should learn and read about the papers around chain of thoughts and tree of thoughts. You should understand what personas are. You should be using your favorite language’s version of the openai client and understanding it deeply (how or streams and how to use functions). You should develop an intuition for the limitations of current LLMs and know how to get the desired output.
Nothing specific on Chain of thought and and tree of thought. If one googled those they should get the relevant papers. Martin Fowler link is here:
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