Brian Austin

| AI Dev Tool Research | Engineering Leadership | Tech Lead Manager | Software Architect |

This newsletter syndicates all of my LinkedIn content.

For AI project updates check out Project Maestro on Substack.

All other links at https://bit.ly/m/bwaustin
Pinned post from February 22, 2024

Can you design and build an app using AI tools? Let’s find out!

I wanted to announce that I’m launching my side project this week. It’s called Project: Maestro and it’s about putting the current crop of AI tools to the test designing and building software. The intro page is already live and I’m planning to send out the first batch of articles via SubStack this week. The vision is to work the entire...
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July 7, 2024

How Good Is ChatGPT at Coding, Really?

““ChatGPT may generate incorrect code because it does not understand the meaning of algorithm problems.” Yutian Tang, University of Glasgow” Confirmation of what I've long suspected based on my own testing. A number of universities are applying a critical eye to otherwise breathless claims by AI companies. The general consensus is that...
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July 2, 2024

The Death of the Junior Developer

If you are studying Computer Science and read this, please stay in school. LLM models are trained on existing code, which has bugs. There will always be bugs to fix. There’s been a shift away from hiring juniors but not because of AI. Everyone wanted seniors because they erroneously believe that they can get to market faster by shunnin...
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May 29, 2024

Putting Chatbots to the Test

Would you trust an AI chatbot with family planning? Investing $1 million? How about writing your wedding vows? the Wall Street Journal asks. I'd like to think that I started this trend with Project Maestro, but LLM technology has reached a point where folks are looking past the hype and benchmarking output in the real world. Stanford h...
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May 1, 2024

Project Maestro: First Principals Thinking

Howdy folks, quick update on Project Maestro. The next installment is live on Substack so check out Maestro: First Principals Thinking. In this batch we test LLM’s ability to reason using first principals. If you are not familiar with the term it’s a problem-solving approach frequently used in software development, but the concept has ...
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April 15, 2024

AI could change the architecture of apps

Hear me out. The advent of AI models and advances in ASIC will change the traditional client-server interaction of apps. We’ve seen it before with the introduction of the personal computer and the smart phone. Work is done on the local device and eventually synced to the server. I’ve spent 10+ years building REST/JSON web apps that rel...
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March 28, 2024

After The Gold Rush - Building Apps With AI

Golden run or gold rush? Surely DHH remembers a time when programming was less accessible to the masses. I would not attribute the current downturn in developer jobs to unreleased tools like Devin. Finance drove the massive dot com layoffs and the end of ZIRP is driving these. But the writing is on the wall, things are changing. Type a...
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March 26, 2024

LLM's Lack of Context From a Human Perspective

I couldn’t agree more with Nate Jones take in LLM's are bad at code and product. It’s hard to write critically about LLM without sounding overly contrarian or that you are fishing for clicks. I hear claims that AI will replace a job or will accelerating a task and often counter: “So, what has YOUR experience using LLM been like?” The r...
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March 12, 2024

"Will AI replace programmers?"

The CEO of Nvidia famously said that AI will eliminate the need for people to learn programming. But as a recent blog post at toddle calls out, not exactly. The predictive model of current gen LLMs means that while it cannot solve novel problems, it can generate massive amounts of repeatable code, given the right instructions. It's eas...
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February 13, 2024

The Art of Retracting AI-Produced Code

No question AI tools have accelerated the speed to write code, but who cleans up the mess? David Ramel asked the question in a recent Visual Studio Magazine piece. He summarized a whitepaper by GitClear pointing out a disturbing trend in maintainability. One indicator is Code churn, measured as lines of code that are reverted or update...
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February 5, 2024

How to Train Your Large Language Model

Chamath Palihapitiya is a controversial figure, but his recent breakdown of how large language models work, and their limitations is worth checking out. He makes a few great points: First, access to proprietary and constantly evolving data is important. While he doesn't mention the Open AI lawsuits, he implies that owning your own trai...
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January 11, 2024

Are you shipping? If so, how often?

Michael Seibel and Dalton Caldwell of Y Combinator make some great points in this short: • Great software companies are built by great software engineers • Tech startups live and die by their speed of shipping software. The first point is common sense, and as a software engineer, I take the challenge to hear to be a GREAT software engi...
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January 5, 2024

Which calendar are you?

Sliding back into the routine in January is a great time to ask ourselves: “Am I being productive?” Forrest Brazeal’s cartoon from a recent post in his Good Tech Things substack lead me to re-evaluate my own calendar. What does yours look like?
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December 6, 2023

Are you protecting your new AI project?

The folks over at App Economy Insights break down the biggest security threats from AI in 2024. At a high-level: Adversarial AI has been area of focus in security for over a decade and modern algorithms aid attacks in four main areas: Speed, Scale, Scope, Sophistication. The widespread adoption of LLMs creates additional vectors for ex...
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November 13, 2023

Rushing for the Cloud Exits is Probably Premature

Move your SaaS out of the cloud, are you crazy? That's exactly what David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) says saved 37Signals a lot of money. But hold on.. Moving out of the cloud might be a good fit for some companies, but not everyone. Forrest Brazeal has an intriguing rebuttal in his Good Tech Things newsletter that includes this chart. I...
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November 11, 2023

AI is Expensive

A fantastic write up in ArsTechnica about how AI hasn't been profitable for Big Tech. A WSJ article cited says Microsoft loses around $20 per user per month on GitHub Copilot. In fact, the service has operated at a loss despite having more than 1.5 million users. The $10 a month flat fee doesn't cover the average user cost of $20; wors...
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October 9, 2023

It's Electric

A stark reminder of where the "big three" auto makers rank by market cap. If the future of automotive is electric, Tesla obviously has an early advantage. Toyota takes a slightly different track with hybrids. Maybe you've never heard of BYD, but the Chinese manufacturer has already seen success with exporting vehicles. The Challengers ...
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October 2, 2023

Money, Time and Energy

This a fun infographic, but I would put the fuel gauge closer to 50% through the central "Working Age" section. That said we can pull levers to move things around, for example: spending money to create more free time. Everything has limits and at the end of the day we all make decisions of what to prioritize for ourselves, our families...
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September 25, 2023

Emporos - Lighted Bag Project

I'm proud to share that I lead the team that built this integration between the Emporos and the lighted bag system. In collaboration with Product, our engineering team designed, built, tested and delivered a brand-new cloud-based software integration platform to support this system. We also worked with our partners to refine our onboar...
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September 12, 2023

Does Moore's law apply to GPUs?

Blake Millard had this great point last week in his newsletter about the rate of technological adoption writing that "today’s technologies achieve scale in months and years while prior generations took decades." He included this chart from Goldman Sachs illustrating the point, but it also got my brain spinning. The often quoted "Moore'...
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September 1, 2023

Spotify's AI Driven DJ

Here's a fun one for the long weekend: Have you tried Spotify's new AI DJ?🎸 If you are a Premium subscriber tap play on the DJ card and the algorithm will curate a playlist. Unlike the other smart playlist, the DJ will hand pick songs from your listening history and group them by theme (or vibe) and if you are not into it you can skip ...
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August 25, 2023

AI Microtransactions

Should AI have unfettered access to money? The Lightning Network does exactly that, and provides a mechanism for AI to create a wallet, earn money and then spend money on other services in order to complete a task. To paraphrase Lyn Alden's August newsletter: "An AI agent is purposely set up by the creator to have some funds to spend a...
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August 20, 2023

The Fall of Stack Overflow

Gerggely Orosz of Pragmatic Engineer dove into Ayhan Fuat Çelik's analysis of and speculated that coding assistants like Copilot, Cody, ChatGPT are partly to blame. He speculates that engineers are reaching for AI chatbots for code questions, and it's hurting Stack Overflow's traffic. I would add to that by saying that while searching ...
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July 13, 2023

The Office of Weights and Measures

It's been a while (April 10th) since I posted anything. In the words of Peter Gibbons in office space "I wouldn't say I've been *missing* it". But it's not what you think, I have literally missed the action of writing and posting. What can I say life intervened. What absurd ideas have been rattling around in my head over the past few m...
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April 10, 2023

AI, the Next Tech Bubble?

My Joseph Kennedy moment with ChatGPT “Joseph Kennedy famously escaped the stock market crash of 1929 after his shoeshine tried to give him stock tips, leading him to sell all of his stocks and preserving his wealth. ” Probably the only thing I have in common with Joseph Kennedy is that someone who has little understanding of machine l...
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March 24, 2023

Canceled by ChatGPT

I did a wild Twitter rant.. will I get canceled? Yeah, probably by Niemann Marcus. Seriously though, can we talk about the bad advice on the Internet? Any idiot and a dog could start a blog and now 20 years later and a few slick graphics anyone can be "the News". In your comments, dropping knowledge.. wake up sheeple TikTok deserves a ...
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March 12, 2023

Sunday Bank Run Fraud - The REAL SBF

Hungry Hungry Hippos 💸🦛 Intended to write a couple of posts but time got away from me the last few weeks. Now in light of the Silicon Valley Bank issue it seems a little tone deaf to ignore the 🧐 obvious elephant in the room. I am not one to buy into the Internet hype cycle, but I spent the weekend pondering how the latest financial de...
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February 20, 2023

15 Nanoseconds of Fame

Look Ma I made it mom! Last week I published an article on HackerNoon, less than 24 hours later it was featured in the daily newsletter. In a matter of several days my site traffic jumped (1 to 40). LOL Not a bad investment of several hours on Friday night and Saturday morning. I submitted the article to several sites including HashNod...
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February 11, 2023

Superb Owl

Superb Owl For me the Big Game is more about food, family and not yelling at the TV. It's less stressful when your team isn't playing, and you can appreciate the raw athleticism and cornball commercials. To be fair there have been some duds over the years and the quality of the commercials has declined along with the overall ad market....
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January 30, 2023

Working at Chipotle so I can skip streaming ads and subscribe to newsletters

Always Money in the Burrito Stand A break from layoff talk this week, as it’s all-over social media. I would like to point out that, for now at least, there are companies still hiring. • Compared to tech layoffs, Chipotle (CMG) to hire 15K new employees • Travel demand: Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY) expanding workforce by 13K Minor downgrade fr...
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January 21, 2023

Where'd All the Workers Go?

“These Workers are Gone Folks, and They Ain't Commin' Back (h/t Springsteen) ” Content creators like to make a lot of hay about why the US is seeing worker shortages in service jobs. Most of it is a bunch of feel-good bunk that ignores the fact that most service jobs suck. A "living wage" isn't worth a damn if you get yelled at all day...
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