Automotive software, Parallels, Explaining, Carbon, and other things I’ve been thinking on recently

Software is eating the car

In the late 80s, PC software complexity was growing dramatically as Moore’s Law delivered more and more compute power to the desktop, and network connectivity began expanding dramatically. Microsoft hired Dave Cutler and a team from DECwest to build the next version of Windows.  Much has been written about this.  Several stars aligned to allow this to happen:

  • Microsoft management (Billg) realized that a dramatic step up in technology would be necessary to realize Microsoft’s ambitions
  • The Microsoft culture at that time was welcoming of great technical talent.
  • Microsoft had the equity to attract and reward world class technical talent

I am reminded of this as I read How Software is Eating the Car.  150M lines of code, software from hundreds of suppliers, massive amount of growing compute power.  The traditional OEMs with their traditional supplier networks are headed for a wall.  It is going to take a complete restart of the automotive software and hardware stack to compete.  But I am not sure that the stars have aligned for tradiitonal OEMs.

  • Do they realize that they need a dramatic investment in software and system architecture?  This will require a complete reboot of systems architecture and tearing apart of their Tier1 relationships.
  • Are they welcoming of great technical talent?  Will they allow software teams to come in from the outside and drive radical transformation of system design?
  • Do they have the equity to attract world-class technical talent?  Can they offer dramatic equity compensation packages that pull in the architects, principals, senior engineers?  With separate entities like Cruise and Argo they might be able to address this, but I am not sure these separate entities can drive the radical transformation of system design that is needed.  

I suspect that the auto OEMs need to make a DECwest-style hire to really shake themselves up — the insertion of a world-class software team right into the middle of their automotive design effort, a team with the chops and mandate to change everything about compute and networking in a car.  

Tools

I am not sure why I stuck with vmware so long, parallels is great.  Way more polished than VMWare Fusion, way easier to use.  Sam points out that their GPU virtualization may not be as good yet.

Learning

David Perell mentioned this pearl in one of his newsletters recently:

…you learn best when you explain something in a new medium.

So if you read something, you should explain it in a video or a drawing instead of writing about it. When you translate ideas from one medium to another, you can no longer rely on a lot of the handicaps that help you work faster but ultimately inhibit learning.

This quote from Piaget doubles as a core principle of the company: “The essential thing is that in order for a child to understand something, he must construct it himself, he must re-invent it.”

Carbon

A bunch of charts on “who are the worst emitters of carbon”.  It is also interesting though to look at “who are the most efficient emitters of carbon” — I.E. which economies generate the greatest amount of GDP per ton of carbon emitted.  This gives you a very different ranking.  If you want to maintain world living standards while emitting less carbon, you might focus on different countries.  The Western industrialized nations may emit a lot of carbon but they also generate a lot of GDP per ton of emission in contrast with, say, Russia or India.

Random

Bismuth is cool.

Statins (may) increase risk of dementia.  Ugh.  I don’t take a statin.  I am pretty conservative on regular use meds — I like aspirin because humans have been using it for a century or more and we pretty much understand the longterm effects of its use.