A Circuitous Path
I started, decades ago, doing firmware and embedded Linux systems at a small company in Montreal, whose LAN I also maintained off the side of my desk.
The first time I dropped out of tech, I did so to become an ESL teacher in Germany, where I taught — wait for it — technical English to German Engineers in Kassel, Germany.
From there, I went into political philosophy and ethics. I wanted to understand the code that ran people, instead of the code that people ran. I studied for a PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Notably, one summer, I also collaborated with the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, to construct pandemic guidelines in the wake of the SARS outbreak that had nearly upended life. It was 2005.
After dropping out of my PhD programme with an MA, I hoofed it to Vancouver, Canada, where I worked for three years at the University of British Columbia as a Communications Manager.
After that, I went through a fallow period, working several small jobs while constructing a now-long-defunct programming language in my spare time (incidentally, it shared some features with the very cool and much-better-thought-out Unison language. Check those guys out!)
I re-entered the standard tech scene in 2016 or so, with a stint as frontend developer and (because we were small) Chief Security Officer of Ethelo Decisions, a fantastical blend of social justice and technological ambition.
From there, I was first hire for a small startup in crypto that went nowhere (we didn't even get to MVP, alas.) I was hired away from them by Micrsoft, USA.
At Microsoft, I worked on ‘Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Studio’, a product euphoniously named in the great tradition of that company. I myself preferred to call it the ‘mindforge’. Because that's what it did. It was the platform used to make the new GPT-4-powered Bing. (Oh, and probably ChatGPT itself too.) I made the DX good for ML engineers. I left this position when I began to have pandemic-related difficulties with my work visa, as I had returned to Canada (cross-border work is not permitted under the terms of a TN-1 visa) and I had obligations here in Vancouver.
After that, I briefly worked at a small AI startup in Toronto, in early 2023, before realizing that I needed to take time for myself, as I'd had an interesting pandemic and had taken on a certain amount of trauma. I left of my own volition after a few months. While I'm embarrassed to have such a brief period of employment on my C.V., I also know I made the right decision: after several months, I'm feeling vigorous and whole, and ready for new horizons. I've spent the time meanwhile investing heavily in my study of old friends Typescript, React, NixOS, Neovim, and OpenBSD. My skills are sharper than ever.