Compared to other professions, software engineering is still in its infancy. But having almost reached a point where the code still running at the bottom of many large systems wasn’t written in living memory, there are now some early signs that this phase may finally be passing. The arrival of machine learning assistive tooling means change. Like the arrival of any other new tooling, these tools will change the level of abstraction for some, perhaps this time most, developers. But they also bring with them potentially unique ethical dilemmas, new security concerns, and some very open questions about the future of our profession.
Scientist, Author, Hacker, Maker, Journalist, and Head of Documentation @Raspberry_Pi
Alasdair Allan works as the Head of Documentation at Raspberry Pi where he leads a team that is responsible for documents that range from beginner-friendly tutorials to register-level documentation of new silicon.
Before joining Raspberry Pi he worked as a consultant and journalist focusing on open hardware, machine learning, data science, and emerging technologies — with expertise in electronics, especially wireless devices, distributed sensor networks, and embedded computing. He is known for benchmarking the new generation of machine learning accelerator hardware, and for hacking hotel radios.
Originally an astrophysicist, he has published over eighty peer-reviewed papers, eight books, and has authored several standards dealing with real-time events and application interoperability. As part of his work, he built a distributed peer-to-peer network of telescopes that, acting autonomously, reactively scheduled observations of time-critical events. Notable successes included contributing to the detection of GRB 090423 which — at the time — was the most distant object yet discovered.
In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and been mentioned on South Park. But more than ten years on, he is probably still most well known for causing one of the first big mobile privacy scandals.