Antonin Carette

Machine Learning Engineer & Software Developer

The end of a decade

Posted at — Dec 31, 2020

2020 is nearly over, finally! And what an awful year…

The end of 2020 is going to mark a new decade, which often comes with the assessment of the previous decade, but also the common list of soft and strong desires (and illusions) for the next ten years.

I have been thinking about what the young me (let’s call him “Young Me") imagined of 2020 ten years ago…

Young Me was in college at this time, in Biology classes, 100% sure that he will spend the rest of his life in a BioComputing research laboratory, doing some researches after a PhD in Biology & Computer Science.
Sorry kiddo, I am now a Machine Learning engineer, and I stopped my PhD after one year of strong desillusions, failures, and bad directions from my supervisors.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with this failure, and I am strongly convinced that stopping my PhD was the best decision I made in the last five years.

Also, Young Me was pretty sure that Earth will be better due to Human efforts, Ecology will be the thing of the next decade, and that people would finally helping each other and solve together a lot of issues, especially for people in poor countries: starvation, drinking water penury in poor countries, the lack of hygiene, …
A lot of people helped on those subjects, especially Bill Gates and his great foundings to help people in poor countries, but we still have a lot of things to do in order to solve those problems, and I don’t think that the next ten years will be enough unfortunately.
Earth is not going well at all, far more worst than 2019. As an example, from Australia fires to California fires, the Apocalyptic fire images from 2020 reminds me pictures from Blade Runner 2049, where the human being, jaded, is soon in the era of his extinction.

In terms of technology, Young Me used an ArchLinux distribution on an Asus Zenbook machine, and an Android device (I don’t remember which one). I had the time to tweak my Arch every week (or every two weeks), play with different desktop environments and stuff… I was sure that FOSS will lead the world, and that I will never ever use any proprietary OS or softwares.
Today, I consider that FOSS lead the world, especially in cloud technologies, and I am very happy about this. However, I don’t use any GNU/Linux distro (except at work as it’s the best system to work on data & dev stuff in my own opinion), and I don’t use Android anymore (never ever). I don’t have the time to tweak my desktop or my phone every week, and I just want something that “just work”.
It’s funny to see that it’s all been reversed.

Young Me had a dream: to go to Canada, and explore at least Montréal and Toronto.
Fortunately I flied to Canada in 2016 for my Master thesis, and I explored some parts of Montréal but not Toronto. This trip has been a “game changer” in my life, and I fall deeply in love of the culture of this country.

Young Me imagined we would go to Mars in 2020.
Maybe in 2030!

Young Me imagined a woman as French president…
Outch.

… and Young Me never imagined that a clown could, one day, lead a country.
Oh boy, take a deep breath here…

Young Me imagined that racism, xenophobia, and sexism would be bad memories from the previous decade.
Hopefully, this tends to change since the past two or three years: at least Weinstein’s cases and “Black Lives Matter” movements helped for this case, but unfortunately it took some drama to finally happen…

Young Me never imagined to become an husband and a father…
the most beautful things it happened to me the last decade :)

After all those (big) desillusions, I would like to take Young Me in my arms and tell him that everything will be fine… but that would be a lie.
During the last decade, I never experimented so much fear, tension, stress, failures, and disgust for politics (and humanity sometimes).

But we still can change this, together, as a group.
Individualism and division still reign supreme, as we can see the last year with covid-19 (the most absolute big shit of the last decade… with the US clown maybe), but Young Me still believes that Humanity will, one day, stop to prioritize selfishness to think as a group of people.
People are fighting in streets to preserve their part of humanity, sometimes for good (get rid of racism and sexism, the Black Lives Matter movements, the fight for individual rights & privacy, etc…)… and sometimes for bad.
I want to believe it, mainly for you my son.

Let’s the next decade be the decade of change, and remember of the past five years as a big wrong turn.
To forget is a mistake, let’s remember of this every time in order to make sure to not repeat the same mistakes again.

As Eleanor Brown written, in “The Weird Sisters”:

There are times in our lives when we have to realize our past is precisely what it is, and we cannot change it. But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future.

Good-bye 2020.

Hello 2021.