Ars on your lunch break: Tim O’Reilly on why the future doesn’t have to suck

But inequality and economic distortions give us ample opportunity to blow it.

Enlarge / In a weird and gross way, these two subjects complement each other. (credit: @ThePracticalDev)

Below you’ll find the third installment of the After On interview with legendary tech publisher and prognosticator Tim O’Reilly. Please check out parts one and two if you missed them. Otherwise, press play on the embedded player, or pull up the transcript—both of which are below.

In today’s installment, Tim rejects the fashionable forecast that automation will eradicate all human jobs next week. Being closer than most of us to Jeff Bezos, he knows a thing or three about operations at Amazon, which presents a fascinating case in point.

The company began a hugely successful two-year robot buying spree in 2014. The robots automated countless repetitive and dangerous human tasks. And during that time, the company hired more than 100,000 new people in its warehouses. It turns out, these robots amplify the productivity of the folks who work with them. And when bosses get more bang for their buck from a category of worker, they tend to hire more of them.

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Ars on your lunch break: Tim O‘Reilly discusses the birth of “open source”

We flash back to a time in the ’90s when it seemed like Microsoft would eat everything.

Enlarge / When release rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death. (credit: @ThePracticalDev)

Below, you’ll find the second installment of the After On interview with legendary tech publisher and prognosticator Tim O’Reilly. Please check out part one if you missed it. Otherwise, press play on the embedded player, or pull up the transcript—both of which are below.

O’Reilly and I start off today talking about The Whole Internet User’s Guide & Catalog, which he published in 1992. And yup—that’s a two at the end of that number. As in, a full year before the first release of the Mosaic browser. Of course, there was a World Wide Web before Mosaic—and all 200 of its sites are listed in this book (along with various non-WWW Internet stuff that was around back then).

Jumping forward many years, O’Reilly tells us about convening a small summit of tech honchos, which quite literally named open source software. The nameless-ish phenomenon was already a big deal by then and was destined to become a huge one. But names do matter (and their lack even more so). The summit’s real purpose was to stridently promote this new approach to code to the both industry and the press in hopes of terminating the suffocating reign of Microsoft and others.

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Ars on your lunch break: Sitting down with legendary publisher Tim O’Reilly

The granddaddy of tech publishing discusses early days and epic meetings.

Enlarge / These probably aren't real. But they should be. (credit: @ThePracticalDev)

This week, we’re serializing another episode of the After On podcast here on Ars. Our guest is tech’s preeminent publisher—as well as one of its top prognosticators—Tim O’Reilly. We’ll run this interview in three installments. You can access today’s via our embedded audio player or by reading the accompanying transcript (both of which are below).

Outsiders are often surprised by how central the dowdy medium of books has been to the tech industry. But for decades, books were the only game in town for most people wanting to keep pace with the new programming languages and skill sets tied to their jobs. O’Reilly Media has published a huge share of our world’s top books for as long as I’ve been around—even as it led the charge with ebooks, digital training, and other disruptions to its ink-on-paper legacy.

But Tim’s real mojo comes from being the industry’s convener-in-chief. For starters, his company has welcomed all paying registrants to hundreds of major conferences. Other conference series have been invitational, including Foo Camp (which is impossible to describe); SciFoo (basically Foo Camp, but for scientists); EdFoo (think SciFoo, but for educators); and many others. "Foo" stands for “Friends of O’Reilly.” And should you ever learn that you are one, accept the invitation pronto—it will rank amongst the coolest and brainiest weekends of your decade.

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