“Do you know what they do with engineers when they turn 40?”

If you're an engineer of a certain age you know this movie. It's probably one you watched a lot and discussed with your friends late into the night.

And now, almost 20 years later, you're that engineer closing in on 40.

Remember being 20 and working with the 40 year olds? They'd built their careers on mainframes, shipped shrink-wrapped software that required multiple floppies, and later CD-ROMs. They could crack shareware. They survived Y2K. Agile was the hot new thing. JavaScript was a joke. Lens flares were cool. Their ICQ# was lower than yours. They only had one reaction gif and it was a dancing baby.

And now ... we'll, now you're the 40 year old.

You rolled your eyes at "Web2.0". You were on Facebook before your grandma. You survived the demise of Flash. You lived in a messy world of semi-adopted methodologies: You were Scrum-like, Agile-Hybrid, mostly RESTFul, kinda sorta followed DevOps. You worked in the pre-remote world. You commuted once, played ping-pong, and actually had unironic water-cooler conversations.

And, now, you watch the technology landscape changing once more. Just like the 40 year olds you knew in your 20s, you're confused by what you see on the horizon. Embracing the very future that scares you, you turn to ChatGPT to ask what a 40 year old engineer should do to avoid “what they do with engineers when they turn 40.”

And ChatGPT responds with poetic wit: Build a time machine and go back to being a 39-year-old engineer forever!


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