Polymath Engineer Weekly #45
Links to get you through a boring week
Hello again. Hope you have a nice week ;)
Links of the week
According to psychology professor David Buss, being high status is good for your health. And as I researched this essay, I desperately wanted to find a silver bullet pointing to the damaging consequences of status games.
Instead, it was the opposite.
Dr. Michael Marmot showed that in British society “how high a civil servant climbed in the game of civil service predicted their health outcomes” — irrespective of their wealth.
I very frequently get the question: “What's going to change in the next 10 years?” And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: “What's not going to change in the next 10 years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. ... In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection.
It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher.” “I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.” Impossible.
I sometimes think about the fact that Amazon S3 effectively has to exist until the heat death of the universe. Many millennia from now, our highly-evolved descendants will probably be making use of an equally highly evolved descendant of S3. It is fun to think about how this would be portrayed in science fiction form, where developers pore through change logs and design documents that predate their great-great-great-great grandparents, and users inherit ancient (yet still useful) S3 buckets, curate the content with great care, and then ensure that their progeny will be equally good stewards for all of the precious data stored within.
Large Language Models like ChatGPT are extremely powerful, but are built in a way that encourages people to use them in the wrong way. When I talk to people who tried ChatGPT but didn’t find it useful, I tend to hear a similar story.
The first thing people try to do with AI is what it is worst at; using it like Google: tell me about my company, look up my name, and so on. These answers are terrible. Many of the models are not connected to the internet, and even the ones that are make up facts. AI is not Google. So people leave disappointed.
We get a lot of startup pitches. The most common response we have is “Good company, Bad investment”
There are many, many good companies to be built. And many great founders to build them. I’m psyched for all founders, and believe many ideas can be successful companies. But only a small set of those companies could provide the kind of return that fit the pattern of venture capital.
Just because a venture capitalist doesn’t invest, it does not mean you don’t have the start of a successful company.
The way I interpret this statement is that the human mind may be unequipped to internalize reality for what it actually is. That if we had access to all the laws and structures that truly comprised our existence, we may just end up going insane. The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman has a proposition that reality is an illusion, and that this was the brain’s way of optimizing for survival. That to see reality for what it actually is wouldn’t benefit the health of our species, so evolution selected for a veil to be placed over what is really happening before us. And that veil is what we refer to as our perceptions.
Book of the Week
Do you have any more links our community should read? Feel free to post them on the comments.
Have a nice week. 😉