For most of my career I have been a ‘systems thinker’, working first as a software engineer, then as an Architect. The main difference is in terms of scale, where as an engineer your focus may be on an individual component of a system, an architect focus is on entire systems, a domain or even whole enterprises. Looking at the bigger picture is therefore ingrained, as it is necessary when making decisions regarding technology- e.g. upgrade vs buy new; shared vs dedicated infrastructure; data structured or unstructured. Therefore, I did feel a little foolish in the skills session where we formed into a circle an manually reenacted the flow of information around the fridge. Hardly the usual type of Proof-of-Concept (POC) we would normally run when doing a hands-on evaluating of new technology.
Once I overcame my foolishness, a thought occurred- none of the systems I had built involved Machine learning- they simply ran through a coded set on instructions in the same fashion each time, guided by the input data it was receiving. The systems we are building now, and in the future will be different- they will be machines capable of ordering the shopping, advising on what to have for dinner, directing leftovers to the best corner of the fridge for then to remain fresh. The fridge will have agency to perform some of these functions and be lock downed from others. Putting myself and the rest of the cohort into the casual loop made us focus on these choices and the follow-on impact they would have on the host system and broader environment.