Hey - the newsletter is back!
A few updates before diving in:
Just got back to school after a tumultuous journey circling the planet (NY, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, India, and Hong Kong). Learned a lot - if you have any questions about my trip (or need tips) let me know.
Ben and I are, once again, running a “Maker Match” - fill out this short form if you want to meet some highly ambitious people!
I am really excited for 2019. I think this is going to be a big year for everyone and…seriously…if anything I can do to be helpful, please reach out (just hit reply).
Enjoy the newsletter!
Articles to Read.
It’s easy to scoff at Krugman’s self-congratulation, but at the meta-level, he’s on to something. Mill states it well: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” If someone can correctly explain a position but continue to disagree with it, that position is less likely to be correct. And if ability to correctly explain a position leads almost automatically to agreement with it, that position is more likely to be correct. (See free trade). It’s not a perfect criterion, of course, especially for highly idiosyncratic views. But the ability to pass ideological Turing tests – to state opposing views as clearly and persuasively as their proponents – is a genuine symptom of objectivity and wisdom.
I think there are really two fundamental paths. History is going to bifurcate along two directions. One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event. I do not have an immediate doomsday prophecy, but eventually, history suggests, there will be some doomsday event.
The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.
So how do we figure out how to take you to Mars and create a self-sustaining city—a city that is not merely an outpost but which can become a planet in its own right, allowing us to become a truly multi-planetary species?
Jim Bumgardner is the creator of the Palace, the graphical chat environment that is one of the most unique community-building software on the internet. I first met Jim up at Nrutas, the room at the Mansion site that looks like the surface of a moon orbiting Saturn. I was hovering up among the stars, while jbum was down on the surface of the moon, apparently whispering to one of the wizards.
I can understand both sides, however, as far as the main Palace server goes, I'm tending to side with the Germans. All the abstract notion of "free speech" for everybody is a nice ideal, but I can understand the motivation of the German government for censoring hate speech. Civil Rights activists have a tendency to say "today you censor hate speech, tomorrow you censor" - well I think this is a bit absurd. I think one can probably draw a line between the expression of ideas which are violent and harmful to others, and ones which aren't, and the ideas in the first category are destructive and harmful to society - that is they ultimately lead to physical harm and murder. You can't make a case for religion or sexual orientation leading to the same.
Over the last year or two, I’ve gone down some intellectual rabbit holes that led me to some pretty unusual beliefs. Here are some of my favorites of these beliefs. They mostly fall into two categories: weird things about my overall perspective on the multiverse and how to relate to it, and bullishness on the feasibility of using science to do extremely difficult things. I’m not trying to provide complete arguments for any of them here, more just trying to point at why I end up believing them.
The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention.
The “Moneyball” story has practical implications. If you use better data, you can find better values; there are always market inefficiencies to exploit, and so on. But it has a broader and less practical message: don’t be deceived by life’s outcomes. Life’s outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.
I make this point because — along with this speech — it is something that will be easy for you to forget.
The Great CEO Within (Free Digital Book!)
How to build a category-killing company from the ground up.
More to Check Out:
- Welcome to the stochastic age
- How to Be An Artist
- Daniel Kahneman Interview
- Ricky Jay, Gifted Magician, Actor and Author, Is Dead at 72
- Superyacht Elite Sink $3 Billion a Year Into Money-Burning Boats
Kudos (to people in the community).
My friend Valentin created a guide for reflecting on your year, I think you will like it.
My friend Ben launched Notion Pages - a helpful source of inspiration for helping you set up your Notion.
Published my 2018 Year in Review (a snapshot of what I have been up to). I want to know how things are going with you?! Hit reply to this email and let me know, hopefully I can be helpful.
Sign up to meet someone highly ambitious!
Weird being back at school for my final semester. As always, trying to make the most of my time remaining.
Started reading a few books. Have also been writing lots about my travels here.
Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )