After months of struggling through generating LLVM IR in Go the only thing I know for sure is how much I don’t understand.

A few months ago someone asked me how I managed to devote so much time to working on my programming language Fault. Was my work sponsoring it? Had I quit my job to focus on it?

This question puzzled me because I didn’t feel like I was making much progress at all. I had been stuck on LLVM for what felt like forever. …

Social networks are full of fake accounts, tracing their networks and observing their behavior can reveal interesting things about how the world works. But only if you can find them!

I have a long running fascination with scammers. From the very first moment my father introduced me to the film The Sting, nothing has proved more entertaining than exploring an elaborately constructed con. It’s a form of storytelling in a way. The best scams say more about how their victims see themselves than the attackers.

When fake accounts started to take over social media (and they have taken over social…

Thousands of fake Instagram accounts are powering scams targeting influencers. The scams are run by different people, but are the bots?

I was in the middle of a work trip — the first since Covid — when an obvious bot account claiming to be a scout for a streetwear brand left a comment on a honey trap I had set up to study Instagram bots. “Collab? DM @ vincerewears”

The single most impactful thing you can do to boost your intelligence is learn how to effectively self-soothe

When I was about seven years old I was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder. At the time, such disorders were classified as learning disabilities. The way learning disabilities are diagnosed is by administrating an IQ test and an achievement test that focuses on skills like reading, writing and math. If there’s a big difference between the two scores, you have a learning disability. In my case my IQ was above average for my age, but my skills were below average for my grade level. No one at my school knew what to do with those results. Did I belong…

People don’t make better decisions when given more data, so why do we assume A.I. will?

On a warm day in 2008, Silicon Valley’s titans-in-the-making found themselves packed around a bulky, blond-wood conference room table. Although they are big names today, the success of their businesses was hardly assured at the time. Jeff Bezos’s Amazon operated on extremely tight margins and was not profitable. They had just launched the cloud computing side business that would become Amazon’s cash cow, but they didn’t know it yet. Sean Parker had been forced out of Facebook, retreating to a role as managing partner of Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. He was a few years away from a critical investment in…

Programming in logic can help you produce better optimized, more secure, bug-free code … if only you knew how to do it.

woman holding a giant lego, attempting to build a structure out of giant legos

It took me about two years to write my first program in Z3. I had done some tutorials, wrote code to solve other people’s example puzzles, but I couldn’t really figure out how to cross over from very abstract “toy” use cases to applications that had actual relevance.

Z3 is a Satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) solver, a cousin to the satisfiability (SAT) solvers I’ve written about before. Whereas SAT solvers require encoding everything in to a set of…

Silicon Valley’s ethics via opt-out isn’t going to work anymore

Last week I wrote a piece for the popular military theory blog, War on the Rocks, about what Silicon Valley has learned about the impact of automation on complex systems and how that should shape the military’s goals.

Discussing the military use case for technology with other technologists is often awkward. Many believe that it is possible to instill new technologies like A.I. with ethical and safety principles purely from the comfortable environments of ivory academic towers or plush FAANG collaborative spaces. One need not go where the technology might have its deadliest and most critical impacts. …

If I’ve seemed quiet lately, it’s because I’ve been working on guest pieces for other publications (and the second series of my exploration into program language design, Marianne Writes a Programming Language). This year I’ll be doing a small series for BuiltIn on abstractions and architecture. The first installment on platformization and what abstractions qualify as part of a platform is online right now

The key is generalization. Platformization is dividing out parts of the system that can be generalized enough to operate as a black box. It’s not that the system is simpler, because more abstractions invariably mean greater…

The more software eats the world, the more critical safety is … but what exactly does that mean?

Software engineers are bad at safety because software engineers are not used to the idea that software can injure. All around the industry, the mantel of technical leadership has been passed to people about my age, perhaps a few years older. We grew up when computers weren’t so powerful, when their use was an optimization rather than a necessity, when their first commercial successes were in toys. …

Why are organizations committed to positive ideals so often shitty to their employees?

I have a checklist of things I talk to new hires joining my team about during our first 1:1. Top of that list is the word boundaries double underlined. By the end of that first conversation I want to have covered the importance of three different categories of boundaries I consider absolutely essential to doing any kind of social impact based work.

Internal boundaries: How you treat yourself. Getting enough sleep, eating right, getting regular exercise, etc. Everybody’s different here and what I want from my employees…

Marianne Bellotti

Author of Kill It with Fire Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones)

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