• Thursday, 3:45 PM4:05 PM
    AI - “iron man or ultron”


Scott is a web developer who has been blogging at for over a decade. He works in Open Source on ASP.NET and the Azure Cloud for Microsoft out of his home office in Portland, Oregon. Scott has three podcasts, for tech talk, on developers' lives and loves, and for pop culture and tech media. He's written a number of books and spoken in person to almost a half million developers worldwide.


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Hey Scott, it's so nice to see you. I'm so happy that you're going to be speaking at Epic Webconf And I wanted the audience to get to know you a little bit before that happens So could you introduce yourself to us a little bit? My name is Scott Hanselman, and I live in Portland, Oregon For the last 15 years. I've worked at Microsoft for the last 32 years though

I've been working in tech and you know on the web I was also a professor at OIT Oregon Institute of Technology Which is a state school here in Oregon as well as Portland Community College where I graduated from many many years ago Awesome, so you kind of stayed in that area of the world you like the Northwest 100% I started here. I'll die here. It's got a good airport

So I think you're on the chess piece of Portland, and I'll just bounce around but yeah, this is where we are That's that's fantastic. So 32 years in web. That's as long as just about anybody could say They well, I mean because when I count web I mean, I guess I mean Internet because it's like, you know, I mean, I remember installing mosaic the first time

I remember when Windows didn't come with a TCP IP stack. So you had to add trumpet windsock I ran a bulletin board I want to say 35 years ago if folks Remember that and if they don't I would encourage them to go and watch BBS the documentary So I was running an OS 2 machine an IBM OS 2 on a 486 with 8 megs of RAM

Running Wildcat BBS, which was a bulletin board system and people would dial into my house I lived in my parents garage and we pulled extra copper wire to the back of the house So that we had a two-line bulletin board system running multitasking and OS 2 and people would leave email But email didn't really exist yet. So it was called Fido net

So if you can't in a Utah wanted to email me You could have a long-distance phone call because phone calls used to cost money But in fact you would do Fido net would it would I would you'd call your bulletin board you leave a note it would be sitting in a queue and then you'd make a local phone call to somewhere nearby but heading west and

Leave it in their queue and then we would bounce our way local phone call one at a time all the way Over to Portland at night and then you'd get the email like the next day What oh my goodness. I've never heard of anything like that. Yeah, I don't that is what that's called Fascinating well, so How how has this?

World not just a web I suppose but software kept your attention for so long. I I like the my dad was a woodworker Is still a woodworker and I like the sense of just inventing stuff spawning it out of the ether hmm, which is why I'm so fascinated with things like 3d printing the idea that you can have an idea and then just

Spawn it like Minecraft you have an idea a domain gets bought a team gets formed napkins are drawn on the backs of And then the next thing, you know, you're having a conference in in Park City, Utah, which is kind of what you're doing, right? It's that power of creation

But also the visceral physical sense of it whether it be software, which is a little squishier or like right now I'm working on this this Apple computer. This is an Apple one built from chips So I'm trying to get this guy to boot up and when I hook this up I think it'll be cool to try to make a bridge between the past. This is

1976 What if I could get chat GPT on this Apple one computer and have chat GPT? Answering questions here at the top. That's that's my woodworking That is fantastic. That's very very interesting. Very fun

Yeah, so like bringing some of your your history into the future which is you're at Microsoft right now, right so a Huge part an emphasis for Microsoft is artificial intelligence

Yeah, so bringing that that technology up to what you're doing at Microsoft. I think is very interesting Yeah, I I am I don't want AI to go the kind of the way that you want it to go The way of crypto where it gets used for evil and it becomes thing that the grifters are using

For me ice when I see like generative AI abused where you're you know inventing new art I'd rather pay the artist for that kind of stuff. I feel like it should be done to reduce toil and reduce pain

When I think about being human, I think about the cool stuff we make I don't want to outsource that to to the bot You know, but when I think about a bubble sort that's not the creative part of the job I want to do So if the AI can do the bubble sort cool But I don't want to just say make me a website for a conference and then have the whole thing just spawn

You see what I'm saying? Yeah, so what's the boring part? It's the difference for me and the analogy that I use is like a Marvel Universe thing Ultron is like a robot but he's empty and evil and then Iron Man looks like Ultron because the bodies are the same But there's a person in there and he's just made better

So I want iron men and women not Ultron's and that's what AI, you know, hopefully should do so I'm trying to really push You know internally and externally Ethical AI responsible AI transparent AI that makes people's lives better And if it doesn't if it replaces humans, then we're doing it wrong hmm, yeah, and I

I am definitely I don't think that I'm alone in this but I am a little concerned about what that that future looks like that We could definitely be headed to that Ultron future. It is kind of interesting how the web 3 and crypto

Space kind of got really big and then suddenly kind of many of them shifted over to AI but I do think that this is Nothing like a fad or a trend or anything. This is very much something That is here to stay

And so that's why I am really excited to have you speaking at the conference about this and what web developers can do To upscale themselves so that they can use AI Efficiently and and like make it a part of what they do Yeah day-to-day rather than be like concerned. It's going to take their jobs

one of the analogies that I'm working on that I'm not sure if it's a good one and maybe I'll test it on on you is that what What business is it of I as an old person on the internet to tell people that they should drive stick shift in a world? Where uber exists?

Right, like just call an uber and then you you get your butt gets transported by someone else, right? Want food a taco drone drops the food in you. Why do I even know need to know how to make food? I think there's a balance. I should be able to have a I have garden. I've got a square foot gardens

Actually a blog post called square foot gardening for programmers Where I talk about how to like lay it out, right? So like I don't need a garden because I have the global supply chain, but it's useful to know how to do that I don't need to know how to drive stick shift I have an automatic or a self-driving car or an uber

But when those self-driving cars break down when they need their tires change there's value in knowing how to do that So, how do we as elders in the web? Enable people to be more productive to have more fun to do more stuff that doesn't involve toil Without kind of standing in their way and saying well you need to know Young him before you start in the web build one of these Yeah, I don't want to do that, right?

But I do think there's a value in taking the layer that you operate at Whatever it is could be react. It could be f12 tools and then go one layer below Just one layer below like I love that you take ubers Change a tire once Right. I love that you use react. I love that you use Emmett

write HTML and notepad once just to just to feel what that feels like and remember our Past so I want to find a balance where AI enables me to do more of that And explore the full stack and understand the full stack and it'll be my friendly co-pilot my friendly helper my patient pair programming buddy

But I don't want to be replaced by an AI Yeah, yeah, I love that. I call that leveling up by going down the abstraction layer so like you Everybody can start wherever they want to start I think that's totally fine and and the quicker you get to to shipping something you're excited about the better But when you're ready to say, okay

No, I'm ready to actually really be good at this stuff Then you go down a layer to understand how everything is working down sharpen the saw sharpen the saw. Yeah Well Scott, this has just been such a pleasure a pleasure to get to know you and chat with you a little bit I'm super excited to see you in Park City in April is the one last thing I want to ask you about is

when When we're all at the conference There are going to be a lot of people there who want to visit with you What are some of the things that you hope people come and talk with you about? um, I Would like to know if people are feeling Empowered and how they are staying with that feeling

Someone I'll give you a little random anecdote and you tell me if this works but Someone at work asked me how I was and I was a little blue that day and rather than when your co-worker says hey How are you? You go? I'm fine. How are you? How was your weekend? We went hiking I said the darkness persists, but so do I and It made them kind of go. I just asked you how you were

But at the same time though, I think we all get a little blue about these things We all wonder about the future, but we've got to stay positive So I would love to hear positive stories from the attendees about the positive things that they're doing in their community what they're building for their family for their friends for their neighbors and How they are keeping the darkness at bay. Oh

That is great. I love that. That's fantastic And you know, I think that there are a lot of dark things happening in the world today And finding a way to persist through those and try to bring a little bit of light into the world I think is a good thing

When we talk about this, I just have to think of Mark Texan Who is going to be one of our emcees and he is just such an enormously positive influence in the community And I'm super excited to put him on stage to bring some of that positive energy And I think that you're going to do the same so Scott. Thank you so much for

Jumping on board with us and thanks for giving us some of your time today so we can get to know you All right. I'll see you soon. Okay. Bye everybody