Can AI be disruptive for the web development industry?

I was recently asked by a peer on LinkedIn the following question:

I really want to hear your opinion on AI. I’m currently working with AI automation within the web development sector and would like to hear your intake on how it can be disruptive in this industry. Do you see it as a threat or opportunity?

I wanted to share my answer here:

Dear <Name>,

that’s a good question with a simple and a more complex answer.

The simple answer is that AI as a technology is just a tool which can be used for tackling hard problems. Whether it poses a thread depends – as in fact is true for any tool – on the people (or cooperations or governments) deciding its application. In this case my answer to your question would be: “it’s a stupid question, the options you give me do not relate to the question.” This is not answering the question about disruptiveness, of course. I’ll come to that in a moment.

A more complex answer depends again on people. This time the people being asked this kind of question. Technology advocates for example tend to only see the opportunity, whereas others may only see the threat. And an opportunity for society might actually pose a threat to individuals and vice versa. So the answer to this question is complex because it depends on who you ask and at what level you consider the label opportunity/threat. In this case I could give you an answer, but I would have to add conditions to it (which might not help you in case you’re doing a survey). I would say “I see AI as an opportunity for good and bad, and I do hope that the individual benefits and those for society as a whole will outweigh the problems and threats being created by criminals, opportunists and just stupid people who want to do good but don’t do it right.

For you question concerning the disruptiveness of AI on web development, I’d say it will be very disruptive (on some level it already is) in the sense of that the rise of AI could well let some companies skyrocket with new innovations and others (even big ones) go under if they do not embrace the potential.

Hope this helps you,
Cheers, Manuel

Getting into the Whole Agile Development Idea

Because after being absent from the development community for far too long I feel the need to get back into it, I want to do a project that should teach/re-familiarise me with the following techniques:

  1. Specifying the “requirements” in the form of User Stories
  2. Keeping a Product Backlog to collect and prioritize my ideas
  3. Using Git for version control, code management and issue tracking
  4. Using test driven development (TDD)
  5. Using a framework offering a model-view-controller (MVC) architecture (eg. Ruby on Rails)
  6. Setting up and maintaining the web server locally, offering the page via a dynamic DNS method

Especially applying agile methodologies should be fun, although for a one person project they would probably be of limited use in optimizing value in the sense of the agile manifesto. But hey, this is only for me to try out new things.

Love, and do what thou wilt

Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.

Augustine of Hippo, In epistulam Ioannis ad Parthos, tractatus VII, 8

Comment on the Featured Image (March 2017)

originally rendered POV-Ray image

During university (in the early 2000s) I first came into contact with the Persistence of Vision Raytracer (or short POV-Ray) and my fellow students and me were busy happily exploring it’s capabilities, especially for displaying physics data or just plain old fun.

On of the objects that always fascinated us was the Julia Fractal with it’s inconceivable and superdimensional nature and infinite richness of possible shapes. So much that I came up with a pleasant looking shape that a friend of mine later took as a logo for his (one man) company. I later lost all source files I used to create this.

Over a decade later now I may need to recreate that logo and took this as an excuse to re-familiarise myself with the software and Julia Fractals. For those interested there are countless good explanations out there, e.g. from Paul Bourke.

Now, unless someone asks me, I won’t try to explain the concept again in detail. Suffice it to say that the shape is a subset of space which behaves under a certain mathematical transformation in one of two possible ways. Sounds abstract? It most certainly is and yet it produces beautiful organic looking things that can be rendered in color or with textures to make pieces of art. So now for the gory details. Let’s have a look at the code.

This sets the background to white.

This sets the camera up. The right statement is used to set the aspect ratio of the rendered image to the preferred size of the featured images in the Twenty Seventeen WordPress Theme.

I use two light sources, one blue and one red, to give the image some simple color. The fractal itself is white.

And this is the fractal object. Looks not too complicated but there are so many knobs that can be tweaked that there are literally endless possibilities.

First Post

Povray fractal w/ funky lighting

Finally, I managed to set up a blog AND write something in it. Let’s find out where this leads…