Video and Slides
Keynote Outline: Mindful Connections
Sami Mäkeläinen, Head of Strategic Foresight at Telstra. Technologist | Humanist | Pragmatist
- Are we breeding complexity or simplicity?
- Position: Indiscriminately gluing everything together with IoT and APIs, especially when in search of efficiency, can breed (and has bred) systems that are fragile, unsafe, and inherently dangerous.
- Are we coupling things that are best left uncoupled?
- Position: some things are better left uncoupled, or coupled with slack in them. This does not come naturally to systems engineers, so some thoughtful consideration needs to go into the process.
- We need to connect the right things and connect them right.
- Start with pre-mortems, and more holistic systems analysis.
You can ask Sami questions in the comments section of this weblog, or contact Sami directly, his info is at the end of his presentation.
Sami sets out an excellent review of the systemic failures being created given the increasing coupling and interactions of communication systems. I highly recommend reviewing the AI Incident Database (AIID), it makes for interesting reading.
Sami reviews some of the thought leadership behind the need for a framework for mindful connections, and interesting case studies. Perrow’s Matrix shows how complexity is increasing across all systems, even something as linear and loosely coupled as a dam has become more complex.
The ‘warning’ signs Sami highlights rings so true to my experience. We’re all busy, a battery alarm occasionally pings, but everything is working, so its ignored along with the countless other network alarms that generally mean nothing, framing errors. That is until the power goes out and network nodes that were battery backed-up no longer are, and a cascade of errors propagate.
Sami describes some of the tools to address these issues such as pre-mortems, building slack into the system (Amazon Dynamo database is a good example), and openly sharing failures. He leaves us with 3 actionable steps:
- Not every connection is a good connection – what could go wrong?
- Avoid creating brittle systems by focusing purely on efficiency, embrace purposeful inefficiency.
- Help change the culture to be more like safety critical industries. People’s privacy, confidentiality, safety, well-being are critically important to your business. Facebook’s annual, ‘oops we messed up again with your data again’, is no longer tenable.
Thank you Sami for an excellent keynote 🙂