How to be technical without learning to code

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A restaurant kitchen has more to do with computers than you may realize.

There’s a huge communication gap between “technical” and “non-technical” people in industry, even in Silicon Valley.

Non-technical professionals are constantly told that the path to “technical fluency” is through learning to write code or some other kind of intense education. That’s terrible advice. It’s useful for people trying to switch careers, but not if your goals are different.

Nobody tells you that the “become a pseudo-engineer” route does surprisingly little to improve your technical communication and ability, unless you spend 6–12 months on dedicated practice.

That advice is popular to pass around simply because it’s an easy task to teach

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This is about AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s Go playing AI that shook the technology world in 2016 by defeating one of the best players in the world, Lee Sedol.

Go is an ancient board game which has so many possible moves at each step that future positions are hard to predict — and therefore it requires strong intuition and abstract thinking to play. Because of this reason, it was believed that only humans could be good at playing Go. Most researchers thought that it would still take decades to build an AI which could think like that. …

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Google’s DeepMind is one of the world’s foremost AI research teams. They’re most famous for creating the AlphaGo player that beat South Korean Go champion Lee Sedol in 2016.

The key technology used to create the Go playing AI was Deep Reinforcement Learning.

Let’s go back 4 years, to when DeepMind first built an AI which could play Atari games from the 70s. Games like Breakout, Pong and Space Invaders. It was this research that led to AlphaGo, and to DeepMind being acquired by Google.

I promise you won’t have to use either Google or a dictionary while reading this. In this post I will teach you the core concepts about everything from “deep learning” to “computer vision”. Using dead simple English.

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You probably already know what self driving cars are and that they are considered the dope shit these days, so if you don’t mind I’m going to skip any high school essay-ish introduction. :)

But I’m not skipping my own introduction: Hi I’m Aman, I’m an engineer, and I have a low tolerance for unnecessarily “sophisticated” talk. I write essays on Medium to…

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I am an engineer by education, and have therefore studied science a lot. Yet I have realised that I find it easier to read something written in Spanish, than most scientific papers written in English (and I’ve never even fucking learned Spanish). Do you know why scientific research papers are so hard to read? I’m going to be unfairly brutal here.

Because the authors of these papers these days, the “global scientific community”, predominantly consists of people whose life depends on one thing: whether they can coat their words with enough bullshit that the real scientists don’t figure out how…

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Hint: It’s not in America or Europe.

Earlier this week I watched an amazing documentary by Wired about the rise of Asia’s silicon valley hotspot in Shenzhen in China.

This one small city, which came into prominence just two decades ago and doesn’t have a lot of history or culture of its own, is now the breeding ground for technology innovation in the East. Shenzhen is the crystal ball in which you can gaze at the future, even more than Silicon Valley. And the most fascinating thing about it is that this city breeds hardware innovation, not just software innovation…

(For Mac users)

I’m an engineer. I hate most of the documentation I find on the internet. I guess developers write documentation for each other, which is a pretty understandable sentiment. And we use lingo that makes sense to our club. But unintentionally, often this super technical language keeps out beginners who are just taking an online course or reading a book and just want to get things done.

I had a similar experience while trying to set up Google App Engine while taking Udacity’s Full-Stack Web Developer Nanodegree. Udacity makes it a point to not spoon-feed everything to students…

When I arrived in China, I realized I was on WeChat all the time. I was using it in many different ways:

  1. Instant messaging
  2. A social network like Facebook, for sharing pictures/videos/links/etc
  3. Sending money to people
  4. Making audio and video calls over the internet
  5. Quickly exchanging files between my phone and desktop (Wechat’s desktop and web clients automatically create a “file transfer” conversation, just like any other conversation with a contact. By sending a file to this conversation, you instantly see it on the other end)
  6. As my personal visiting card (to share my contact details with anyone, I simply…

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If you have ever written a comment on LinkedIn that says something like “Interested. Please review my profile” or uploaded your resume/CV on a job portal website (or worse, simply clicked “apply”), this blog post is for you.

To start off, here’s my philosophy for job-hunting:

Posting your resume on an online forum is like dropping a coin into a Make-A-Wish fountain. You’re hoping that God will notice your coin from among the 500 others.

- Me

It’s high time you realize that this is not the best plan to bet your livelihood on:

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What I will tell you in this article:

  1. How software outsourcing can be painful
  2. Certain rules you must follow, to avoid the pain


So you want to get a website designed, or an app built, or some other software made. And you want to outsource the work.

You post a project on an online marketplace. A dozen folks want to build your project for anything from $10/hr to $100/hr.

You probably hire a development firm in India or Ukraine or Poland which had a nice looking website. …

Aman Y. Agarwal

Guiding non-engineers through technology, with empathy and humor. I’m much older than I look.

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