2023 Travelogue: London

London is such a vibe; I love the city. I take every opportunity I can get to go there. So when I had to travel for work to talk about AI, I didn’t think twice.

I think there’s really only two proper cities in “the West”: New York and London. Paris is a museum, Barcelona is a vacation; Los Angeles is a dream. The rest always have a failing that really isn’t a failing, it’s a shield, a bulwark protecting them from the creeping verisimilitude that plague London and New York. Both are manifestations of our dreams and our nightmares and it’s glorious.

When I join my online German classes, I get asked from time to time if I like Berlin (gefällt dir Berlin?) I never really have the vocabulary to explain the suffocating sameness of the city so I always just answer in the affirmative (ja, Berlin gefällt mir sehr!) Berlin isn’t a proper city the way London is. Berlin is a perpetual adolescent, a conservativeness that would surely put Munich or Stuttgart or Frankfurt to shame, if the thing that was being conserved wasn’t a perpetual attitude of never giving a fuck, or perhaps forever living the 1990 dream. Berlin’s counter culture needs a counter culture. I love London because London is multicultural and diverse. Berlin is multicultural and not diverse. If that makes any sense.

It may be that I love London so much because my first proper trip there in October 2017 (ignoring a whirlwind connection through London Victoria a month before) was so formative to me. I spoke at Mozfest then, an event which inspired me and gave me hope about the technology industry, and I got to speak with Sarah Jeong, someone I admire tremendously. We walked back to the hotel after an afterparty and she gave me some life advice, which helped me make the decision to move to Germany. The event was also two months after Unite the Right. It’s actually a miracle I remember any of it. By coincidence, my coworkers on this trip booked a hotel not far from where I stayed that first trip and it gave me the opportunity for a walk down memory lane. I came in a day early to explore the city. Despite my enjoyment of the city, I very rarely have time there for my own agenda. I met with some friends for a lunch on Sunday, though I admit, it was also a working lunch, too. Alas.

The goal of my trip was actually a couple of events regarding Generative AI. My own take on Generative AI is a little bit less doom-and-gloom than many make it out to be (there will be impact but perhaps not as devastating as we fear) and a bit less rosy than many technologists make it out to be (it’s a compelling toy but actually doing something valuable with it is still harder than it looks). I was discussing this latter point of view.

The first event was an executive roundtable in the event space at the top of the Gherkin, which went great. It’s always nice to meet with clients and hear about what they’re doing. The second event was a recording in our office in Soho. I’m not sure what’s embargoed but I’ll share it when I can. Mission accomplished, I was back on a plane the next day. Perhaps one day I’ll get to explore the city proper. In the meanwhile, I enjoyed the food, and the beer, and the absolute vibrance of the city. London is great. I should spend a year there once.

Posted: 19.07.2023

Built: 18.04.2024

Updated: 24.08.2023

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Words: 601

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes