Do You Understand What You are Running?

Don’t run systems you don’t understand. Some people had placed billions of dollars into a cryptocurrency called TerraUSD. They were told this was a “stablecoin” that would keep a value of $1. Underlying this claim was a clever algorithm that interacted with investors and another cryptocurrency in complex ways. Until its magic no longer worked and the supposedly stable TerraUSD dropped 80%. Trading in it is now halted.

In the global financial crisis of 2008, people had invested in complex financial instruments that they didn’t understand. Many billions were lost and large institutions went bankrupt. The banks who came out of the crisis unscathed were those who had stuck to simple banking products that everyone could understand.

Take a look at your IT landscape. Can you find somebody who understands your operating infrastructure? Or have generations of DevOps engineers just googled problems and tweaked your Kafka and Kubernetes configuration until it somehow seemed to work?

Don’t Let Your Devices Kill Your Brain

Have you outsourced your thinking to your devices? That’s not a good idea. Surveys show that spatial awareness and the ability to read a map are both declining rapidly as everybody uses navigation apps to go anywhere. Now Apple is offering to similarly damage your short-term memory with AirTags. Since you will no longer have to remember where you put your keys, your ability to remember will atrophy.

If there are parts of your brain you are not using, the brain will repurpose that capacity for something else. You might not need to store a lot of facts because they are available at your fingertips at any time. But you should not let your ability to remember and find your way around disappear. Your mind knows that you are no longer able to survive on your own, and it weighs on your self-image.

Try going a few days without your gadgets. You will find that it is harder than you thought. And you will experience a sense of primal accomplishment by being able to live your life unsupported by a smartphone crutch.