curious builders

Random Quotes

Random quotes from the internet. Emphasis mine.

While the beginner rich person is a corpulent businessman who buys himself thrones and treats to emulate the life of ancient kings, the advanced rich person is one measured by how much better they left the world, after subtracting any value they destroyed along the way.

If we’re not fearing financial market collapse, we are fearing cultural destruction. The middle-class is being milked by the capitalists and will eventually crash and revolt, or the most productive members of the world are being suppressed by an ever-more-burdensome state, depending on which side of the political aisle on which you sit. Either way, this is unsustainable and we are doing everything wrong, so we had best get worked up about it and post angry comments all over the Internet.

Doom, doom, doom. Sure, things may look pretty good right now if you look out your window. Sure, you’re reading this on a fancy-ass computer with a belly full of expensive food and nice clean clothes. But this is all fake. Tomorrow, the suffering begins. (2014)

The escape valve for this period of negative real yields was and is Bitcoin (yellow). Bitcoin is rising in a non-linear fashion on a log chart. Bitcoin’s rise is purely a function of an asset with a finite quantity being priced in depreciating fiat dollars.

It starts with a decision: I want to be less busy. I don’t want to do this anymore.

The most egregious thing you can do with any activity is daydream about how you can make money off of it. That’s the quickest way to optimize for the wrong things and suck the fun right out of it. Most likely you will stop doing the activity almost immediately, so save the money-making schemes for work.

But as champion cyclist Greg LeMond said, “It doesn’t get any easier, you just go faster.”

“We are built with an almost infinite capacity to believe things because the beliefs are advantageous for us to hold, rather than because they are even remotely related to the truth.” – Dee Hock

“Schopenhauer’s ideal is to be wealthy enough to have expansive free time and the intellectual capabilities to fill it with contemplation and activity in the service of mankind.” – Derren Brown

A third, far more productive approach is to first determine what you uniquely want to accomplish with your life, and then view everything, including AI, through the lens of whether it helps you accomplish your goal. From this perspective, AI is a tool and you are the one who wields.

Here’s one of the many astounding finds in Microsoft Research’s Sparks of AGI paper. They found that GPT-4 could write the LaTex code to draw a unicorn. We’ve gotten so used to stuff like this that we don’t stop to think about what such examples illustrate. Presumably, animal drawings in LaTex are not part of GPT-4’s training corpus. Yet GPT-4 has developed an internal representation of what a unicorn looks like, and is able to use its proficiency at LaTex programming to illustrate a concept it has only encountered in linguistic form. We’re seeing GPT-4 do things which it obviously could not do if it didn’t have a world model (how could it figure out how to illustrate a unicorn in LaTex if it doesn’t understand what a unicorn looks like)

Will scaling work?

…humanity is roughly as ethical as it can afford to be.

The Morality of Having Kids in a Magical, Maybe Simulated World

If every species in our evolutionary tree was scared of evolutionary forks from itself, our higher form of intelligence and civilization as we know it would never have had emerged

Notes on e/acc principles and tenets

In other words, while the board may have had the charter of a non-profit, and an admirable willingness to act on and stick to their convictions, they ultimately had no leverage because they weren’t a for-profit company with the capital to be truly independent.

OpenAI’s Misalignment and Microsoft’s Gain

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” -Socrates

learn to love less

“Obviously, we are all spending way the fuck more than we need to in the Western World and it is a complete waste of all of our time, energy, happiness, and the entire planet. So let’s analyze our true needs as humans and figure out efficient ways to meet all of those needs. Then we’ll enjoy our new more natural life while continuing to earn a rich-world wage for a few years. Since the earnings will be far more than our spending, we will save and invest it, and the work portion will quickly become optional”

Book Review: Early Retirement Extreme

Unlike an ideologically disaligned and geographically centralized legacy state, which packs millions of disputants in one place, a network state is ideologically aligned but geographically decentralized. The people are spread around the world in clusters of varying size, but their hearts are in one place.

The Network State

We all like to think we’d have put $25k into Facebook in ’04. In hindsight, we all believe we’d take the risk and get in early. Yet, another risky early opportunity is in front of you today.

The Anthology of Balaji

You need some degree of idealism and determination. In building a startup, you cannot be purely economically motivated. At least I couldn’t, because many times the rational thing to do is quit. The rational thing to do is quit and get a decent job where they pay you well and you don’t have as much responsibility. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re a rational human being, that’s probably a pretty good thing to do.

The reason to do a startup is to build something you can’t buy. Elon cannot buy a trip to Mars. I wrote The Network State because to unblock biomedicine and get life extension tech- nologies, we need to solve the sovereignty problem. I think this is the long-term path to super-soldier serums and other breakthroughs for humanity.

The Anthology of Balaji

The less money you need, the less dependent you are.

The Anthology of Balaji

Without something to build, any intellectual movement degenerates into a status competition, where participants feel the righteousness of finding everyone else wanting without the responsibility of building what they actually want.

The Anthology of Balaji

Unpopular truth is a reliable source of profit. Behind every great fortune is a great thoughtcrime.

The Anthology of Balaji

You’re pursuing truth, health, and wealth, in that order. That’s actually the right priority order. For example, you’d never want to do something that’s untrue to make money or sacrifice your long-term health for wealth. Learn to determine what is true. Pursue health because, without that, you have really nothing else. Then wealth is important, but it’s third—though it’s important to have that third.

The Anthology of Balaji

Many things that are true are unpopular; many things that are popular are untrue.

The Anthology of Balaji

When Trump got deplatformed from Twitter, whatever else you think about that, future historians will look at that as a moment “the most powerful man in the world wasn’t even the most powerful man in his own country.” It showed that your social media account is not yours.

The Anthology of Balaji

Without a pilot taking risks, we don’t test a new faster plane. Without the new faster plane, we lose millions of man-years of time (our lives) due to slower air travel.

The Anthology of Balaji

We have to start talking more about our values than our valuations. Money is only a tool. What really matters is building something you can’t buy. That’s how we actually improve metrics like life expectancy.

The Anthology of Balaji

It is easy to delude yourself into believing that the promotion, the MRR number, the more dangerous hike, will earn you peace. We delude ourselves that even though it isn’t making us happy now, bigger amounts of the same will do so in the future.

Live Fuller, Not Bigger