📅 February 19 - February 25 | Weekly update

With Carnaval over, it was back to some serious work. I had a fairly eclectic week with some training, presentations, writing, and relaxation.

I ran one of my AI courses this week to a small public of managers and business owners. These are interesting moments where I evaluate how the public perceives this technology. It doesn’t take long for the existential questions to creep into the discussion, as well as the whole debate about job loss. Remember, these are business owners looking for ways to optimise productivity and reduce overheads. I tend to calm those thoughts down by showing the limitations and outright crappy outputs generated by these calculators on steroids.

The other training session I ran was with a multinational company in the Caribbean looking to use some of the latest generation of these tools built into everyday productivity applications. It was a really interesting experience and one that I hope to repeat in the future. Like the example above, there were several big think questions, but we managed to stay close to the objective of discussing what these tools can bring day-to-day and for the end user. I’ll finish by saying that they will not take away most jobs. They’ll change jobs, that’s for sure, but they will not replace them. The reason I say this is that when you actually look into what is required for the simplest of tasks like writing an email to a client, the required cognitive input is much more significant than we credit ourselves for; thus, we and they underestimate what is needed to get a result comparable to a human. We do it naturally because we’ve always done it that way. Computers are only just taking the baby steps. Will this situation last? I have no idea, but I’m not too worried for the foreseeable future. However, I will say one thing: these tools risk creating even more significant digital divides between those who can afford access and those who cannot. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with that.


I’ve been reading up on a lot of technical documentation for all sorts of systems, like cloud services, DNSSEC, and many other policy-related documents. Some of this is related to the work I’m doing with a couple of clients, and some is for the training course I’m still following.

Books-wise, it’s probably best for me to lay off trying to find new books for the moment. The reading and wanting-to-read queue is already too long.

There is one paper I wanted to call out. It’s titled Finding the path to a more open internet. A new European approach toward internet standards. I was lucky enough to participate (as an attendee) in the round table discussion of the paper and its general theme. It was an early start as I had to connect to the Zoom meeting at 6:30 am, but it was well worth it. I learned an enormous amount, and I’ve pretty much understood what it is I want to concentrate some of my time on going forward. My ARIN Fellowship kicked off and encouraged this, which you can read about here.

I think Internet governance is going to become even more critical to maintaining democracy around the world. I want to be there early in my understanding, perhaps even participate in discussions that help reduce the risks of a fractured and walled-gardened Internet.

Of note

I went to see Bob Marley: One Love at the local cinema. I chose one of the couple of VOST showings. VOST means Version Originale Sous Titré, i.e., original language subtitled in French. I’m used to this format, so the subtitles don’t really bother me, particularly as I don’t generally need them.

I don’t do reviews, so this is not that. Suffice it to say that the film is a love letter to Nesta and Jamaica. And I don’t mean that in a negative sense; quite the opposite. It is a story that is well worth telling, as well as promoting Jamaica itself. I was pleased with the dialogue being as authentic as possible, as I think it would have been tragic to anglicise the dialogue too much.

I’d say go and watch it if you can.

Have a great week.

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen