2023 and looking forward to 2024

Published December 27, 2023

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A tradition of mine is to write a year end reflection, regardless of whether it makes it up onto the blog or not.

2023 year was a great year, and I’d go so far as to say the best of my life so far.

In my personal life, I celebrated an amazing first year of marriage, and bought a house in San Francisco. While the narrative of SF is that it is in a “doomloop”, the Bay Area has remained the center of gravity for technology innovation - predominantly all of the innovative AI companies have their headquarters in “Cerebral Valley”For example, OpenAI, Anthropic, and obviously Google :). . There is also a buddingSome may even say fully-developed! community of buildersSee Cerebral Valley. . I’m optimistic that on the medium to longer term timescale, San Francisco’s challenges will be resolvedI’ll elide the political details of how… .

Professionally, I also had amazing opportunities for growth, being a tech lead for a 20+ person team of Googley engineers helping to design and scale innovative new products in Maps (e.g. immersive route preview, which uses Neural Radiance Fields). In 2024 I’ll be presenting about product reliability at industry conferences (e.g. SRECon), which I’m quite excited about. While the internet likes to critique Google and its culture, it is clear that the company 1) continuously deploys serious innovation at scale and 2) users around the world continue to love the company’s products.

Balancing my rewarding personal and professional lives impacted my bandwidth for producing content, and I explicitly prioritized the other areas of my life - tradeoffs I embraced enthusiastically. While I wrote fewer paper reviews, I also tried learning-in-public via streaming my process. These tweaks seemed to resonate, and the number of subscribers grew quickly.

I enjoy the process of learning, distilling knowledge, and sharing it with others - wholesale abandoning these activities isn’t something that I intend to do. That said, given my rewarding personal life and demanding job, I’ve rethought how I invest my time in my creative pursuits.

In 2024 and beyond, I’ll be more intentional about the technical areas that I invest in learning about. I think that some topics in systems research are beginning to provide diminishing returns for me personally - for example, while I’m far from an expert, I’m roughly familiar with flavors of distributed databases. As a result, I am not as excited about developments there, meaning I’m less likely to write a deep dive on a new paper. Furthermore, I don’t have interest in producing content solely for the goal of maximizing engagement (e.g. “going full influencer”).

Instead, I want to make a concentrated bet by pivoting my focus towards AI and the systems that power these new technologies - AI is here to stay, and will become a larger part of my life. Even without achieving artificial general intelligence, more everyday tools will begin to take advantage of recent rapid innovations. As a software engineer by trade, I can see AI’s exciting ability to impact my work on the horizon (e.g. with the rise of competent large language models capable of answering technical questions and writing code). In the past, going deep on the fundamentals has been not only interesting, but has also benefited me and my career. I’m very much looking forward to applying this approach, and seeing how this bet pays off down the road.

Looking forward to a great 2024 and thank you for joining me on this journey!

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