Fundamental Law of the Universe

The Fundamental Law of the Universe: If you are not actively trying to maximize your future presence, you will be displaced in the long run by something that is. This is essentially the generalization of the concept of evolution to its broadest sense, and applies not just to the passing on of genes, but everything in existence, from rocks to trees to people in organizations, organizations themselves, the societies they live in, the ideas and culture of those societies, and so on.

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Going from 5 books a year to 30

In my twenties I read 5 books or so a year, outside of school. A few years ago, around turning 30, a switch flipped and I started reading 30-50 (mostly non-fiction) books a year. The math works out to about an hour of reading a day on average, my hunch is the balance came from less TV watching, phone time, and going out. I've found it to be a really rewarding change, and wish I would have made it sooner.

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Self Driving Cars: Robotics R&D program mistaken for a business opportunity

The technical, social, and political risks to commercially viable self-driving cars are underestimated. At the same time, the economic benefits are overestimated. I've commuted SF to MTV in the past (1-2 hours each way), and can say that while taking a well-appointed bus is certainly better than driving, it's still 70% of the pain. The driving part isn't the reason we don't enjoy being in moving vehicles for extended periods of time.

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Act Like 5 Year Olds

My favorite pop-biz anecdote is about a group of MBAs losing to kindergarteners in a complex collaborative challenge. The participants were split into groups and the goal was to construct the tallest tower from spaghetti sticks, tape, and marshmallows. Shockingly, the 5 year olds ended up beating the MBAs, over and over again, consistently in group after group. This result has been replicated a number of times, with the 5 year olds also beating groups of CEOs, lawyers, and average adults.

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Fermi Paradox for Startups

The Fermi paradox for start ups, for when you come up with a brilliant business idea and are wondering how no one on the planet has ever thought of it before. Why doesn’t this business/product exist yet? Reason Constraint Example Relative likelihood No one has thought of the idea before Creativity Nuclear fission in 1910 ~0% (Only happens once per idea!) People have thought of the idea, but no one with the resources/ambition/skills required to attempt it Initiative Nuclear fission in 1936 5% People have attempted it but no one has succeeded in building a working solution Technology Heavier-than-air flight in 1890 5% People have succeeded in building a solution, but no one wants it Market - Existence Segway in 2001 10% People have built a solution that customers will pay for but there is no effective distribution channel Distribution Ride sharing in 2000 10% People have built a profitable solution, the market where it works is just small Market - Scale Segway in 2010 20% It does exist.

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