Looks like the snow is with us. A strong wind from the north is bringing with it a little snow. The weather forecast has a prediction of 15cm this evening. Unavoidable I suppose, but still no less depressing. I think the seasonal mood is kicking in. I thought I was doing okay with the cold and the dark this year, but the snow is an undeniable sign that winter is here for the next few months.

Anyway, systems check. Where are we this week? Well I suppose that the big news of the week is that I turned down the job offer. Having spent the weekend letting myself get excited by the prospects of something new, the offer didn’t come in on Monday. Instead, there were assurances of Tuesdays. Tuesday became Wednesday became Thursday before I held a piece of paper in my hand.

In the interim they pushed me quite hard for my references. They used lines like “this is the usual time where we do references” and “we use references as a sign that you’re serious”. But I stood firm to my Hell No! And explained that given my current situation that there’s no way that they could contact any of my references without it being seen as an act of war and a one way street.

When the eventual contract proposal came across it turned out to be the weakest form of generic boilerplate with my name and start date copy/pasted to the top.

If you want to piss me off, make me wait a literal week for a copy/paste job.

At this point I had soured on the whole thing. People that can’t promptly deliver an obvious deliverable or communicate a delay, WHEN THEY WANT YOU, is a huge red flag for me.

When I originally started talking to the recruiter I was told that the job would be in the 180 range with bonus and stock. But the base salary had some wiggle room.

Throughout the entire process, I was very clear that I did not want to be an independent contributor. If they just wanted a software developer they should look elsewhere.

The proposal came through for a senior developer title. At 180. With no bonus. And no stock.

Well it did come with stock options. That is, they were generously allowing me the option of investing 25k of my own money into the company on the promise that one day it might be worth something in the event of a buyout.

It felt like a real rug pull. A bait and switch.

Thinking it about it now, makes me real quite angry.

And all of this was before I read the contract. At 11 pages long, it was quite the document. And full of insidious caveats hiding all kinds of monsters.

Besides the usual, 6 months of probation (that we pinky promise to never use).

The job can change at any time for any reason.

I have to fulfill all requirements both written and orally or anything else I might consider to be for the good of the company.

The founders and managers are remote, and so the team is expected to be autonomous. Which sounds like coded “there is no oversight”.

Work hours are whatever it takes to fulfill expectations. ie no recourse for being over worked.

We are a remote first organization- unless it affects any performance, attendance of meetings or social events… or any other reason we think of.

The unlimited paid vacation policy, is actually at the discretion of full consensus of the team. So anyone, at anytime can veto your vacation.

But I seriously did not appreciate the non-compete and IP claims. Obviously they are not enforceable, a 12 month, global, non-compete on any of the sectors they work on is crazy. But the employer also claims all IP of anything that I work (including outside of the unspecified work hours, and not on company equipment) even vaguely related to what they do.

But what they do is computers, math and software. So any side projects would be theirs. According to my reading of the contract if I decided to put ads on my website my employer would be entitled to the proceeds. If I did any teaching or training on the side, again theirs.

Hell. No.

No thanks.

I’m not going to take it to court to have IP rights over photos of my kids on my camera.

Am I being dramatic. Yes. Am I perhaps looking for reasons to justify my decision. Probably. Is this anything that different to what I signed at Boeing, no not really.

As a younger man, I probably would’ve just signed the thing and tried to not worry that it wouldn’t come back to bite me.

It probably never would. Most people are good. And most of that contract wouldn’t be enforceable in a court. But they produced the contract. They spent 11 pages of tiny font covering their ass. I didn’t ask for any of that.

Afterwards, they said that it’s just stuff the lawyers put in and we could discuss it. But by that point the trust is gone.

If the job title, description and compensation are not what we discussed then everything else is mere technicalities.

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What distinguishes you from other developers?

I've built data pipelines across 3 continents at petabyte scales, for over 15 years. But the data doesn't matter if we don't solve the human problems first - an AI solution that nobody uses is worthless.

Are the robots going to kill us all?

Not any time soon. At least not in the way that you've got imagined thanks to the Terminator movies. Sure somebody with a DARPA grant is always going to strap a knife/gun/flamethrower on the side of a robot - but just like in Dr.Who - right now, that robot will struggle to even get out of the room, let alone up some stairs.

But AI is going to steal my job, right?

A year ago, the whole world was convinced that AI was going to steal their job. Now, the reality is that most people are thinking 'I wish this POC at work would go a bit faster to scan these PDFs'.

When am I going to get my self-driving car?

Humans are complicated. If we invented driving today - there's NO WAY IN HELL we'd let humans do it. They get distracted. They text their friends. They drink. They make mistakes. But the reality is, all of our streets, cities (and even legal systems) have been built around these limitations. It would be surprisingly easy to build self-driving cars if there were no humans on the road. But today no one wants to take liability. If a self-driving company kills someone, who's responsible? The manufacturer? The insurance company? The software developer?