There's been an awkward growing phase of the technology industry that has led to technicians that don't have any real understanding of the systems they maintain. Compare and contrast Robert DeNiro's character in Brazil with the repairmen he has to clean up after. We could be training those poor duct maintenance guys better.
Chuck points out that abstracting the Developer's work too far away from the system in question means the Developer doesn't really understand the system as a whole. Jeff refers to "purely development roles" and other "pure" roles that aren't necessarily natural boundaries.
The example of VHDL is not about hardware and software, but about learning that you didn't actually know something you thought you knew.
The repairmen in Brazil do not realize (or necessarily care) what they don't know about duct repair. The system allows them to function and even thrive, despite this false confidence in their understanding.
At one point at least, Google was investing in (metaphorically) having DeNiro cross-train those guys, instead of umm... Well, the rest of the movie.
The initial detail was that VHDL, unlike "software" languages, has very different consequences. Can you imagine a language where (1 / 0) wasn't defined away as a DIVERR, but otherwise managed to remain mostly self-consistent? Where something can be logically / syntactically coherent, but not physically possible?
And if that example didn't hit home for you, so it goes, but there was plenty of detail unrelated to the specific example that I thought was more important / interesting to discuss. :shrug: