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Beneficial Intelligence

Technology Podcasts

A weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders.

A weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders.

Location:

Denmark

Description:

A weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders.

Language:

English


Episodes

Risk Aversion

4/16/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss risk aversion. The U.S. has stopped distributing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It has been given to more than 7 million people, and there have been six reported cases of blood clotting. Here in Denmark, we have stopped giving the Astra Zeneca vaccine because of one similar case. That is not risk management, that is risk aversion. There is a classic short story from 1911 by Stephen Leacock called "The Man in Asbestos." It is from the...

Duration:00:05:23

Biased Data

4/9/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss biased data. Machine Learning depends on large data sets, and unless you take care, ML algorithms will perpetuate any bias in the data it learns from. The famous ImageNet database contains 14 million labeled images. However, 6% of these have the wrong label. The labels are provided by humans paid very little per image, so they will work very fast. Unfortunately, as Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman has shown, when humans work fast, they...

Duration:00:07:29

Price transparency

3/26/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss price transparency. In the U.S., a coronavirus test can cost $56 if you pay yourself, but $450 if your health insurance pays it. This lack of price transparency makes the U.S. healthcare system the most expensive in the world, costing the US 17% of GDP. Every other industrialized country is below 12%. There are now laws requiring hospitals to publish their prices, but they deliberately hide them from the search engines. You see the same...

Duration:00:07:00

Blaming the Humans

3/19/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss blaming the humans. It often happens that a system failure is attributed to fallible humans. In that way, you don't have to admit embarrassing shortcomings in your system. A recently declassified report showed that a weapons officer blamed for accidentally firing a missile back in the 1980s was actually the victim of a system error. Boeing initially tried to pin the blame for the 737 MAX-8 crashes on pilot error. Last year, Citibank...

Duration:00:07:35

Wasting Money

3/12/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss wasting money. The business always complains that IT is costing too much. That is because we are wasting so much money. We're on track for worldwide IT spending of about 4 trillion, and surveys show that at least 25% of that is wasted. That's one trillion dollars we waste. IT organizations waste money in two ways: With what we build, and with what we run. It's a time-honored tradition in IT to never retire an old system. We keep...

Duration:00:08:51

Moving Fast

3/5/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss moving fast. Mark Zuckerberg is famous for saying "Move fast and break things." That was his way of communicating a preference for high speed, accepting high risk. It has become an unofficial motto of Silicon Valley, but Facebook now has billions of users and today have a different risk profile. Elon Musk, on the other hand, moves fast and breaks things. He is launching SpaceX Starships as a furious pace, and the landings often end up in...

Duration:00:05:55

User Experience Disasters

2/26/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss User Experience disasters. Danes consistently rank among the happiest people in the world, but I can tell you for sure that it is not the public sector IT we use that make us happy. We have a very expensive welfare state financed with very high taxes, but all that money does not buy us good user experience. Good User Experience (UX) is not expensive, but it does require that you can put yourself in the user's place and that you talk to...

Duration:00:07:20

Contingency Plans

2/19/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss contingency plans. Texas was not prepared for the cold, and millions lost power. Amid furious finger-pointing, it turns out that none of the recommendations from the report after the last power outage have been implemented, and suggestions from the report after the outage in 1989 were not implemented either. As millions of Texas turned up the heat in their uninsulated homes, demand surged. At the same time, wind turbines froze. Then the...

Duration:00:09:22

Risk and Reward

2/12/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss risks and rewards. Humans are a successful species because we are good at calculating risks and rewards. Similarly, organizations are successful if they are good at calculating the risks they face and the rewards they can gain. Different people have different risk profiles, and companies also have different appetite for risk. Industries like aerospace and pharmaceuticals face large consequences if something goes wrong and have a low risk...

Duration:00:09:06

Do the Right Thing

2/5/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss doing the right thing. Google started out with a motto of "Don't be evil," but that has fallen by the wayside. Occasionally, employees remind Google of the old motto as when they forced Google to stop working on AI for the Pentagon. But they don't seem terribly committed, and their highly touted Ethical AI Team is falling apart after they fired the head researcher. Amazon never promised not to be evil, and they are forcing their delivery...

Duration:00:07:34

Amateurs and Professionals

1/29/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss amateurs and professionals. Recently, Gamestock shares have gone through the roof. That's because professionals were betting that the stock would fall, and amateur investors meeting on the internet decided to buy up all the stock they could. The amateurs seem to have won this battle, inflicting billions of dollars of losses on the professionals. Amateurs also build IT systems, but in IT, the amateurs always lose. At JP Morgan, a trader...

Duration:00:07:09

Robustness

1/15/2021
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss robustness. Robustness is a system's ability to keep running when parts of it are knocked out. This week we saw Parler, a social media platform used by Trump supporters, being taken out by their cloud provider Amazon. They did not have robustness. The Pirate Bay, on the other hand, has robustness. Governments and big media companies have tried to put them out of business for two decades, and they are still up and running. On-premise...

Duration:00:07:29

Knowledge Decay

12/11/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss knowledge decay. Knowledge decays over time, and skills you don't use become rusty. That's why it's a problem for out-of-work pilots that they're not flying. Some knowledge decays and becomes less useful because the world moves on. An old-school telephone engineer's knowledge of electro-mechanical switches became irrelevant as phone exchanges became digital. Your knowledge of last month's hot JavaScript framework might be less relevant...

Duration:00:08:33

Value for Money

11/27/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss getting value for your money. It's Black Friday, and all shops are offering incredible deals. Unfortunately, they don't necessarily provide value for money, because prices have been creeping up for months in order to be able to fall today. Similarly, we are building a lot of IT systems that don't provide value for money. We just got an app here in Denmark that will allow you to keep your driving license on your phone. I don't replace the...

Duration:00:04:41

Exit Strategies

11/20/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss exit strategies. History is full of examples of powerful countries that started military adventures without having an exit strategy. Commercial relationships also need an exit strategy. If you are running standard on-premise systems, moving away to another vendor is manageable, but if you are using specialized features that only one vendor offers, your exit is going to be expensive and difficult. This is even worse in the cloud where...

Duration:00:06:14

Too Much Technology

11/13/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss the tendency to use too much technology. As technology enthusiasts, we must be aware of our tendency to implement technology where it doesn't really improve things. There is an Israeli startup that is building autonomous flying drones to pick apples. In my keynote "Everything that's wrong with IT," I talk about my internet-connected socks. In my house, I have various "smart" devices that allow me to control the lights. Over the past...

Duration:00:08:09

The War for Talent

11/6/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss the War for Talent. Every organization wants the most talented programmers, administrators, UX designers, and other talent. But they want it cheaply. New salary requirements for H-1B visas in the US have companies howling that they can't get the talent they need. But there isn't a shortage of talent, there is a shortage of willingness to pay. If you have a good business case, you can afford the talent needed to make that product a...

Duration:00:08:02

Securing Your Data

10/30/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss classifying and securing your data. Military forces have always needed to keep secrets, and they have hundreds of years of experience. You can learn from them. They use different classifications for different information, from UNCLASSIFIED over RESTRICTED to CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET. That allows the organization to implement simple rules for handling and allowing access to information. Most organizations haven't changed...

Duration:00:06:46

How many humans do you need?

10/23/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss how much automated support systems can do, and how many humans you need. Thousands of customers of online brokerage Robinhood have been hacked, and have watched helplessly as hackers sold their stock and emptied their accounts. Robinhood does not have anybody you can call. We've been trying to automate customer service for a long time, and it has never worked completely. The real world is messy and requires human judgment. Customers...

Duration:00:05:14

Deadly incompetence

10/9/2020
In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss deadly incompetence. Some people are more competent than others, and it is a leadership challenge to place people in positions where the organization can make the most of their competence. It is also the task of the leader not to place anyone in a position where lack of competence can have large negative results. Unfortunately, someone at Public Health England was placed in a critical position without the necessary competence. PHE was...

Duration:00:06:14