Meet our Connectors: Cătălin Pârcioagă aka The Glue Guy

In every locker room of NBA (National Basketball Association) teams, one of the most important sports leagues in the world, there is a proactive person who connects the team members: The Glue Guy. Ours is Cătălin Pârcioagă, and over the course of his 8 years here, he has been an intern, junior developer, full stack developer, team lead, and, more recently, holds the role of Technical Delivery Manager.

He is a very energetic and lively person, passionate about various fields, but primarily sports (more watching them than practicing – as he courageously admits). He doesn’t consider himself a tech geek, which is quite atypical: not necessarily being a technology enthusiast while working as a programmer in the IT industry 😊. At Connections, he is the person “responsible” for good vibes, the organizer or initiator of many outings with colleagues outside working hours, and the “instigator” in team-building activities.

His history with the team begins in the spring of 2016, when he first heard about Connections, being a second-year student at the Faculty of Automatic Control and Computers within the POLITEHNICA University of Bucharest. Every year, job fairs were organized in the faculty hall, and various IT companies were looking for new people to train in the field.

At our university, it was very common for most students to work during the summer between their second and third year, so I followed the same path. I sent my CV to numerous companies, including Connections. I took a test with several programming problems, after which I was invited for a technical interview, which I took during the exam session, ironically, the day after I failed an exam. I was a bit upset because of the exam, so I went to the interview somewhat indifferent, but everything went excellently, including the human connection with those who would become my future colleagues. Yes, back then, interviews were face to face 😊,” Cătălin recounts.

Long story short, his journey started as an intern in July 2016, after an interview that went well. “Of course, it also helped that I found out they play football weekly and go out for beers – and they weren’t lying, we still keep some of those habits today,” Cătălin recalls.

He continued to work part-time during his third and fourth years of university, then moved to a full-time schedule. The entire experience laid the foundation for a beautiful story of growth and performance in IT. “Connections is a place where I’ve grown tremendously and, in many cases, grown together with the team, which we will continue to do,” he says enthusiastically.

After 8 years in IT, Cătălin fully appreciates the impact of technology, including what it brings to him personally.

Certainly, one of the things that makes my life better is the ability to remotely control various devices in my home. Even though I don’t own an Alexa or a Google Nest, I can control my cleaning robot or air conditioner remotely. Life is clearly better when you come back from vacation to a freshly vacuumed floor and a perfectly regulated home temperature.

The second strong point is communication with close people and those I speak to less frequently; being able to do that anytime and anywhere will always have a significant impact, even if we’ve gotten so used to it that we take it for granted.

Technology has given me everything I have today and everything I will achieve in the future. It provided the platform for me to put my skills and all the things I’ve learned to work. I entered this field because I thought I wouldn’t be good at anything else, and here I saw that it’s such a vast domain with so many facets that it’s not just about the technical side or just about programming but much more. Some skills you acquire, and others you already had but didn’t know you had or didn’t know you would need in a technical field where the human side didn’t seem so important and where programmers were often seen as

ABOUT DIGITALIZATION AND IT FEARS: A WHOLE HOLLYWOOD. LET’S SIT COMFORTABLY AND ENJOY WHAT IT OFFERS US

After 8 years in the industry and a steady professional evolution, Cătălin looks at the challenges in IT from multiple perspectives.

You realize a topic is really hot when your grandparents ask you if you’re afraid you’ll lose your job soon because of Chat GPT. Yes, that’s the hottest topic: to what extent and how quickly programmers will be replaced by AI.

I would say it will happen sooner than we realize, but obviously not entirely. The number of programmers will shrink, but at the same time, I assume new positions will also emerge. On the other hand, there are many large companies where changes happen very slowly. Many of them are just transitioning from Excel to front-end/back-end platforms that allow simultaneous access by multiple users, let alone implementing projects with Chat GPT. AI is coming after the basic programmers who only know their piece and don’t understand the entire mechanism of a project, both from a technical standpoint and in terms of client relationships, management, and so on.”

Regarding digitalization, a constant topic on the global agenda, Cătălin sees it as “more than a character; it’s the whole of Hollywood: always in a broad dynamic that’s hard to keep up with, with new faces and trends constantly changing. But you have the certainty that it always proposes innovations and every time it’s increasingly scandalous with the new things it reveals to the market. We can only sit comfortably, let ourselves be surprised, and enjoy what it offers.

MESSAGE FOR A BEGINNER IN IT

Try to enter the field as quickly as possible without neglecting your studies. I know this might sound ignorant or hard to accept, but in the beginning, you shouldn’t worry too much about the salary. In 2016, I was willing to work pro bono just to get into the work mechanism and gather as much information as possible, trusting that the money would come with the right attitude towards growth and personal development in the career.

I started at Connections as a full-time intern on a salary that today might seem derisory, but it didn’t matter at that time and was irrelevant to my career growth. I believed then, and it was confirmed, and I still believe today that the most important thing is to find a place where you can develop both professionally and personally. I’m glad I found it.

The important thing is to find a place where you feel you can develop both personally and professionally.

The development of AI, the most complex large-scale challenge

 

Author: George Radu, The Multitasker

In the swiftly evolving landscape of technology, where innovations emerge at a brisk pace, the term “artificial intelligence” (AI) has become increasingly prevalent in our daily conversations. This phenomenon leaves many individuals curious and intrigued about the specifics of AI and its functioning. The aim of this article is to shed light on some of the complexities surrounding this subject by categorizing different types of AI into three general categories and illustrating, where applicable, their practical utility in our day-to-day lives. 

Well, but what exactly is AI?  

Artificial intelligence has been defined in numerous ways, some interpretations being so ambiguous that even for an IT professional, it could be difficult to provide a clear explanation. However, in its essence, artificial intelligence refers to the development of machines that can perform tasks traditionally associated with human intelligence. Whether it’s virtual assistants responding to our voice commands or recommendation systems predicting our next favorite movie, AI has become an integral part of our lives in recent years. 

The popularity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) among people has seen a significant increase when, last year, OpenAI introduced its free chatbot. This innovative technology has captured widespread attention, demonstrating an impressive ability to comprehensively respond to almost all questions, creating the illusion of genuine understanding. The OpenAI chatbot not only showcased advancements in the field of artificial intelligence but also marked a significant moment where technology that was once intended for a limited number of people became accessible to a broader audience. The chatbot’s ability to interact and especially to understand the subtleties of users’ questions has contributed to a widespread recognition of the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). 

For a more detailed analysis of the economic potential of artificial intelligence, you can consult the article “What’s the future of Generative AI? An early view in 15 charts”. 

Depending on their ability to mimic human intelligence, we can classify AI into the following categories: 

  1. Narrow AI (or the Specialist): Also known as Limited AI, this form of AI excels at specific tasks without possessing general intelligence. These types of AIs have been widely used for a long time. Some examples include Siri and Alexa on phones, certain chatbots on websites, or even image recognition systems that easily identify objects in photographs. Adapted for specialized functions, Narrow AI proves to be a valuable tool in various applications, simplifying processes and enhancing user experiences.
  2. AGI (or Artificial General Intelligence): Representing a more sophisticated form of artificial intelligence, AGI demonstrates the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge in various domains. We can liken this race to develop AGI – currently underway between various IT companies and even some governments – to the space race of the ’50s and ’60s. At this moment, AGI represents a formidable challenge where machines (computers) are required to achieve a level of adaptability similar to that of human intelligence. While remarkable progress has been made, achieving AGI remains an objective for the future development of artificial intelligence, promising advances that could revolutionize a new category of applications incorporating artificial intelligence. When this stage is reached, our way of life will undergo an irreversible transformation. Some experts suggest that this moment is imminent, but rumors (without any evidence) speculate that OpenAI has already achieved this feat.
  3. Super Artificial Intelligence (ASI) (or the Living Machine): ASI raises the concept of artificial intelligence to a higher level by surpassing human intelligence in all dimensions. The potential ramifications of ASI, both beneficial and concerning, have sparked extensive discussions among experts. Prominent figures in the AI community, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and many others, have expressed concern about the risks associated with unrestrained ASI development. Exploring ASI raises profound questions about the ethical and practical implications of developing intelligence that exceeds human capacities. 

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance, important questions about ethics and challenges arise. People discuss potential biases embedded in artificial intelligence algorithms and worry about job loss due to automation. Finding a balance between encouraging innovation and ethical responsibility is essential. It’s like walking a tightrope, ensuring that as AI systems improve, they help all of us without leaving anyone behind. Navigating these issues is akin to exploring a constantly changing landscape, so constant attention is needed to ensure that AI development aligns with our values and does more good than harm. 

In conclusion, there is much to be discussed and explored about artificial intelligence, but I wanted this article to be brief and direct, providing an overview of the evolution of this new and captivating technology. From its classification into Narrow AI, Artificial General Intelligence, and beyond, to exploring its applications in real-world industries, AI actively shapes our present and future. 

According to information presented in a recent article on ExplodingTopics, interest and demand for AI-based solutions are experiencing significant growth. In this context, whether you are passionate about technology or simply curious about what the future holds, understanding the basics of AI is a necessary step to grasp the transformative potential of this revolutionary technology. 

*George RADU is a technology enthusiast and Business Development Manager @ Connections Consult. 

Meet our Connectors. George Radu, The MultiTasker.