Category Archives: Growth

Charming Helps!

Source: Medium, Jan 2020

Bring The Positive Energy

Here’s the first key to being charming: you have to make other people want to talk to you… and that means that you want to be open and welcoming.

People who are charming are people who make us feel good. They make us feel like they understand us, value us and think we’re awesome. They’re nonjudgmental, empathetic and caring. They’re the sort of people you feel like you could rely on when the chips are down because they’re just that kind of person.

So how does one convey warmth to others?

To start with, you want to smile. A broad, genuine smile that reaches the eyes — the famous Duchene smile — is a way of making yourself instantly seem friendlier and more approachable. It also forces you to feel happier and friendlier in a nice bit of biofeedback; by making yourself feel more friendly, you will come across as friendlier and more likable.

http://www.journalofadvertisingresearch.com/content/58/1/51.figures-only

You want to make sure to be as positive as possible. You don’t have to be a wide-eyed optimist, but we are instinctively drawn to people who are happier. Happy people give energy to the room and make others feel good.

Build The Emotional Connections

The next key to being charming is to build the emotional chemistry by finding commonalities with the person you’re talking to. Charming people have the ability to make us feel as though we’ve known them forever — even if we’ve only just met them thirty minutes ago. They bring an easy sense of familiarity and intimacy that we don’t often feel with other people, especially with people we’ve only just met… but it feels so natural that we never think about it.

In fact, one researcher found that it was possible to build an incredibly intense emotional connection — one stronger than even some long-term friendships — in the span of an hour.

The key to building this emotional intensity comes from sharing personal emotional information with one another.

You want to share emotional truths that illustrate some of what makes you who you are. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the Question Game– taking turns asking meaningful questions of one another. Those questions like “what would a perfect day look like to you”? They may sound cheesy… but they’re the ones that elicit the emotional truths and help forge those surprisingly deep and intimate connections that make us feel so close to someone we’ve just met.

So you may want to ask something like “What would you do if you could do anything with no chance of failure?” or even just sharing an embarrassing — but amusing — incident in your life. The key is that you want to allow yourself to be vulnerable; being charming means letting others feel as though they’re getting insight into you that few other people may get.

Just be sure to leaven it with humor. After all…

Funny is Sexy

As I’ve said many times before, there’s a reason why women rank a sense of humor so highly when they’re listing what they find attractive in men. In fact, some researchers believe that there’s a direct correlation between being able to make a woman laugh and her level of sexual or romantic interest.

The most charming people out there have excellent senses of humor. Some are droll and witty, others are self-deprecating, while yet others are brash, even borderline offensive… and we love them for it.

So why is humor so important to charm? It’s the way that it makes people feel.

Charm is all about making the other person feel good in your presence. Laughter releases muscle tension in the body, leaving you feeling relaxed calm while also releasing endorphins in the brain. If you’re able to make a woman laugh, you’re able to make her feel good… and she’s going to associate that feeling with being in your presence.

A good sense of humor is also a reliable indicator of intelligence; after all, most humor — even puns — is intellectual in nature. Even pratfalls and low-brow humor require a strong sense of comedic timing and being able to gauge the social appropriateness of the situation. Plus: being able to understand the proper time and place for different forms of humor is a sign of finely tuned social calibration.

Develop Your Presence

The final part of charm is to utilize your presence. We often talk about people who feel larger than life, or who have us riveted. These people have presence.

We like people who like us… and the ability to make you feel liked is one of the keys of being charming. Charming people have a way of making you feel like the most important person in the world. They give you their full attention and give you the impression that not only are they hanging on your every word, they’re finding absolutely everything you have to say fascinating.

The first and most important way of using presence is simply to give someone your full attention.

The next way that you develop presence is to indicate that you’re actually paying attention. There are many ways of doing this — countless non-verbal signs like nodding your head and “go on, I’m listening” sounds, for example — but the most powerful is to be an active listener.

Making a point to ask questions about the things that she’s telling you, especially if you use her choice of words or phrasing, makes it abundantly clear that not only are you paying attention but that you’re making a point to engage with her, not just passively absorbing her words like a sponge. Even just repeating the last couple of words back in an intrigued, questioning tone can build and signal your interest in what she has to say.

Daron Acemoglu in Conversations with Tyler

Source: Conversations with Tyler, Dec 2019

what makes China exceptional is that — like no other despotic, extractive society in history — it has a complete obsession with innovation and technology.

China is the first society that’s really systematically trying to do that. China wants to keep the despotic control of the Chinese Communist Party while at the same time be a leader in digital technology, leader in Telecom, leader in AI, and it’s pouring a lot of resources. It’s providing incentives, and the question is whether this is going to succeed. My view is, it is not a complete failure, but it’s not going to be a huge success.

there are tensions. You really need — you called it individualism. I’m happy to call it that. I would have called it something differently. But you need that individualism spark. You need that experimentation for the most radical type of innovations to take place, and China is missing that. It’s going to try to pour more and more resources to make up for it, but I’m not sure whether it’s going to work.

A 4.1/4.0 for his Stanford PhD!

Source: Ed Boyden, Oct 2019

Related Resources:

Huffington Post, Sep 2016

Synthesize new ideas constantly.

Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read, even when you’re reading what you conceive to be introductory stuff.

That way, you will always aim towards understanding things at a resolution fine enough for you to be creative

Conversations with Tyler, Apr 2019

we don’t actually have theories — detailed knowledge — enough to make predictive, interesting models, for example, of how we form emotions, of how we make decisions.

… questions about attention-focusing drugs like Ritalin or Adderall. Maybe they make people more focused, but are you sacrificing some of the wandering and creativity that might exist in the brain and be very important for not only personal productivity but the future of humanity?

I think one of the things that I really love about the space of ecological diversity is, if you think of brains as computing things, then ecological diversity might provide many ways of computing the same thing but in different ways that actually yield interesting computational insights or aesthetic outcomes.

I think architecture is very important. I find architecture to be very inspiring for scientific ideas.

My group started at the MIT Media Lab, and now we have half our group over here in the MIT McGovern Institute, but I used to wander the halls of campus late at night to just look at stuff, the posters in the hallway. I get inspiration by trying to connect dots from different fields or disciplines or even entirely separate, unconnected topics. I find a lot of productivity from inspirational environments and connecting dots between random things.

COWEN: Now, you were first hired here by the Media Lab, is that correct?

BOYDEN: I was.

COWEN: They were a different ecosystem, and they saw some reason to hire you, where other groups didn’t see the same reason.

BOYDEN: Yeah. I was writing up these faculty applications to propose to set up a full-time neurotechnology group — let’s control the brain, let’s map the brain. At the time, the majority of the places that I applied to for faculty jobs actually turned me down.

So I went to the Media Lab to talk to people there. I’d been an undergrad researcher there. That’s when I was doing work on quantum computing, for example. It was just sheer dumb luck. They had a job opening that they couldn’t fill, and they said, “Why don’t you apply?”

COWEN: A job opening for what?

BOYDEN: I can’t recall the details. It might have been a professor of education or something. I forget what it was. But they said, “You know what? We’re the Media Lab. Maybe our new mission is to hire misfits.”

It’s a great place for people between one field and another where there’s sort of some space. But you know what? It could be an entire new discipline. Now, flash forward 12 years later, we actually started a center for neuroengineering here at MIT that I co-direct.

I think I learn more from individuals and their variability than from categories of people. For example, in our group at MIT, I have two PhD students. Neither finished college, actually. I can’t think of any other neuroscience groups on Earth where that’s true.

COWEN: And you hired them.

BOYDEN: I did, yeah.

COWEN: Knowing they didn’t finish college. And that was a plus? Or, “I’ll hire them in spite of this”?

BOYDEN: Well, one of them had been a Thiel fellow and then decided that it could be good to have an ecosystem in academia to support a long-term biotechnology play, and it’s hard to do biotechnology all by yourself. The other was a college dropout who was working as a computer tech support person next door, and both of them are now leading very independent projects.

Again, I try to look more at the individual, and I try to get to know people over a long period of time to learn what they’re good at and how they can maybe make a contribution based upon their unique experience. That’s different from what people have done traditionally.

BOYDEN: I think there’s so much crosstalk nowadays. I read a statistic that 40 percent of the professors at MIT trained at one point in their career at Stanford, Harvard, or MIT. So there’s a lot of crosstalk that goes back and forth. I think one of the themes in science is that you end up learning different things and bringing multiple things to bear.

COWEN: How should we improve the funding of science in this country?

BOYDEN: I like to look at the history of science to learn about its future, and one thing I’ve learned a lot over the last couple years — and it’s even happened to me — is that it’s really hard to fund pioneering ideas.

The third thing I would do is I would go looking for trouble. I would go looking for serendipity.

One idea is, how do we find the diamonds in the rough, the big ideas but they’re kind of hidden in plain sight? I think we see this a lot. Machine learning, deep learning, is one of the hot topics of our time, but a lot of the math was worked out decades ago — backpropagation, for example, in the 1980s and 1990s. What has changed since then is, no doubt, some improvements in the mathematics, but largely, I think we’d all agree, better compute power and a lot more data.

So how could we find the treasure that’s hiding in plain sight? One of the ideas is to have sort of a SWAT team of people who go around looking for how to connect the dots all day long in these serendipitous ways.

COWEN: Does that mean fewer committees and more individuals?

BOYDEN: Or maybe individuals that can dynamically bring together committees. “Hey, you’re a yogurt scientist that’s curious about this weird CRISPR molecule you just found. Here’s some bioinformaticists who are looking to find patterns. Here’s some protein engineers who love — ”

COWEN: But should the evaluators be fewer committees and more individuals? The people doing the work will always be groups, but committees, arguably, are more conservative. Should we have people with more dukedoms and fiefdoms? They just hand out money based on what they think?

BOYDEN: A committee of people who have multiple non-overlapping domains of knowledge can be quite productive.

But in economics and in other fields, it also seems like people are trying to make better maps of things and how they interact.

BOYDEN: One way to think of it is that, if a scientific topic is really popular and everybody’s doing it, then I don’t need to be part of that. What’s the benefit of being the 100,000th person working on something?

So I read a lot of old papers. I read a lot of things that might be forgotten because I think that there’s a lot of treasure hiding in plain sight. As we discussed earlier, optogenetics and expansion microscopy both begin from papers from other fields, some of which are quite old and which mostly had been ignored by other people.

I sometimes practice what I call failure rebooting. We tried something, or somebody else tried something, and it didn’t work. But you know what?

Something happened that made the world different. Maybe somebody found a new gene. Maybe computers are faster. Maybe some other discovery from left field has changed how we think about things. And you know what? That old failed idea might be ready for prime time.

With optogenetics, people were trying to control brain cells with light going back to 1971. I was actually reading some earlier papers. There were people playing around with controlling brain cells with light going back to the 1940s. What is different? Well, this class of molecules that we put into neurons hadn’t been discovered yet.

COWEN: The same is true in economics, I think. Most of behavioral economics you find in Adam Smith and Pigou, who are centuries old.

BOYDEN: Wow. I almost think search engines like Google often are trying to look at the most popular things, and to advance science, what we almost need is a search engine for the most important unpopular things.

COWEN: Last question. As a researcher, what could and would you do with more money?

BOYDEN: Well, I’m always looking for new serendipitous things, connecting the dots between different fields. These ideas always seem a bit crazy and are hard to get funded. I see that both in my group but also in many other groups.

I think if I was given a pile of money right now, what I would like to do is to find a way — not just in our group but across many groups — to try to find those unfundable projects where, number one, if we think about the logic of it, “Hey, there’s a non-zero chance it could be revolutionary.”

Number two, we can really, in a finite amount of time, test the idea. And if it works, we can dynamically allocate more money to it. But if it doesn’t work, then we can de-allocate money to it.

I would like to go out and treasure hunt. Let’s look at the old literature. Let’s look at people who might be on the fringes of science, but they don’t have the right connections, like the people who I talked about earlier. They’re not quite in the right place to achieve the rapid scale-up of the project. But by connecting the dots between people and topics, you know what? We could design an amazing project together.

Bret Victor – Inventing on Principle

Source: JamesClear.com, 2012

finding a guiding principle for your work, something you believe is important and necessary and right, and using that to guide what you do.

Ideas are very important to me. I think that bringing ideas into the world is one of the most important things that people do. And I think that great ideas, in the form of great art, stories, inventions, scientific theories, these things take on lives of their own, which give meaning to our lives as people. So, I think a lot about how people create ideas and how ideas grow. And in particular, what sorts of tools create a healthy environment for ideas to grow.

here’s something I’ve come to believe: Creators need an immediate connection to what they’re creating. That’s my principle. Creators need an immediate connection to what they create. And what I mean by that is when you’re making something, if you make a change, or you make a decision, you need to see the effect of that immediately. There can’t be a delay, and there can’t be anything hidden. Creators have to be able to see what they’re doing.

So much of art, so much of creation is discovery, and you can’t discover anything if you can’t see what you’re doing.

I can make these changes as quickly as I think of them, and that is so important to the creative process. To be able to try ideas as you think of them. If there is any delay in that feedback loop, between thinking of something and seeing it, and building on it, then there is this whole world of ideas which will just never be. These are thoughts that we can’t think.

Ideas are very important to me. And the thing about ideas is that ideas start small. Ideas start out tiny, weak and fragile. In order to develop and mature, ideas need an environment where the creator can nurture them. Kind of take care of them, feed them, and shape their growth. And to me, that’s what the principle of immediate connection is all about.

creators need to be able to see what they’re doing. If you’re designing something embedded in time you need to be able to control time. You need to be able to see across time, otherwise you’re designing blind.

being able to try ideas as you think of them. This example, and the last one with the tree, these are both very visual programs; we’re able to see our changes just by seeing how the picture changes.

so I’ve got this principle, again, that creators need to be able to see what they’re doing. They need this immediate connection with that they’re making.

Two golden rules of information design:

  • Show the data.
  • Show comparisons.

so I always think about the millions of pieces that are locked in millions of heads. And not just animation, and not just art, but all kinds of ideas. All kinds of ideas including critically important ideas, world-changing inventions, life-saving scientific discoveries. These are all ideas that must be grown. And without an environment in which they can grow, or their creator can nurture them with this immediate connection, many of these ideas will not emerge. Or they’ll emerge stunted.

Ideas are very precious to me. And when I see ideas dying, it hurts. I see a tragedy. To me it feels like a moral wrong, it feels like an injustice. And if I think there’s anything I can do about it, I feel it’s my responsibility to do so. Not opportunity, but responsibility.

<Larry Tesler>  would watch people using his software and he found that someone who had never seen a computer before — which was most people back then — could be up and running in like half an hour. So this was clearly a transformative change in enabling people to connect with computers. And his ideas about modelessness spread to the rest of the desktop interface which was then being invented at PARC at the same time. And today they’re so ingrained in the computing experience that today we kind of take them for granted.

recognized a cultural wrong, they envisioned a world without that wrong and they dedicated themselves to fighting for a principle. She fought by organizing, he fought by inventing.

And many other seminal figures in computing had similar motivations. So certainly Doug Engelbart. Doug Engelbart basically invented interactive computing. The concept of putting information on a screen. Navigating through it. Looking at information in different ways. Pointing at things and manipulating them. He came up with all this at a time when real-time interaction with a computer was just almost unheard of.

Today he is best known as the inventor of the mouse, but what he really invented is this entirely new way of working with knowledge. His explicit goal from the beginning was to enable mankind to solve the world’s urgent problems. And his vision, he had this vision of what he called knowledge workers using complex powerful information tools to harness their collective intelligence.

And he only got into computers because he had a hunch that these new things called computer things could help him realize that vision. Everything that he did was almost single-mindedly driven by pursuing this vision.

Alan Kay ran the lab at Xerox PARC where we got the desktop interface, so things like windows and icons, command menus. He also invented object-oriented programming and lots of other things. His goal, and I quote, was to ‘amplify human reach, and bring new ways of thinking to a faltering civilization that desperately needed it.’ Isn’t that great?

His approach was through children.

He believed that if children became fluent in thinking in the medium of the computer, meaning if programming was a form of basic literacy like reading and writing, then they’d become adults with new forms of critical thought, and new ways of understanding the world. And we’d have this more enlightened society, similar to the difference that literacy brought to society. And everything that he did, everything he invented, came out of pursuing this vision, this goal with children. And following principles that he adopted from Piaget and Montessori, Jerome Bruner, these people who would study how children think.

It can take time to find a principle because finding a principle is essentially a form of self-discovery, that you’re trying to figure out what your life is supposed to be about. What you want to stand for as a person.

My principle is that creators need this immediate connection. So I can watch you changing a line of code and I can ask: Did you immediately see the effect of that change? Yes or no? If no, I got to do something about that.

So if you’re guiding a principle and bodies of specific insight, it will guide you. And you will always know if what you’re doing is right.

There are many ways to live your life. That’s maybe the most important thing you can realize in your life, is that every aspect of your life is a choice. But there are default choices. You can choose to sleepwalk through your life and accept the path that’s been laid out for you. You can choose to accept the world as it is. But you don’t have to. If there is something in the world you feel is a wrong and you have a vision for what a better world could be, you can find your guiding principle. And you can fight for a cause. So after this talk, I’d like you to take a little time and think about what matters to you. What you believe in. And what you might fight for.

Thank you.

Tech Wars

Source: ZeroHedge, Dec 2019

why has the trade war transformed into a tech war? 

The simple reason is that China could overtake the US as a major economic power by 2030. The US has been unconsciously fueling China’s ascension as a rising superpower by supplying high-tech semiconductor chips to Chinese companies. But recent actions by the Trump administration have limited the flow of chips to China, to slow their development in artificial intelligence (AI) and global domination.

A new report from the Global AI Index, first reported by South China Morning Post, indicates that China could overtake the US in AI by 2025 to 2030.

The index specifies that based on talent, infrastructure, operating environment, research, development, government strategy, and commercial ventures, China will likely dominate the US in the AI space in the next decade.

The tech war between both countries, to get more specific, has also blossomed into a global AI race, the report said.

By 2030, Washington is forecasted to have earmarked $35 billion for AI development, with the Chinese government allocating at least $22 billion over the same period.

China’s leadership, including President Xi Jinping, has specified that AI will be essential for its global military force and economic power competition against the US.

China’s State Council issued the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (AIDP) back in 2017, stating that China’s AI strategy will allow it to become a global superpower.

In a recent speech, Xi said that China must “ensure that our country marches in the front ranks where it comes to theoretical research in this important area of AI, and occupies the high ground in critical and AI core technologies.”

Related Resource: SCMP, Dec 2019

The US is the undisputed leader in artificial intelligence (AI) development while China is the fastest-growing country set to overtake the US in five to 10 years on its current trajectory, according to The Global AI Index published this week by Tortoise Intelligence.

The index, which ranks 54 countries based on their AI capabilities, measured seven key indicators over 12 months: talent, infrastructure, operating environment, research, development, government strategy and commercial ventures.

The US was ahead on the majority of key metrics by a significant margin. It received a score of 100, almost twice as high as second-placed China with 58.3, due to the quality of its research, talent and private funding. The UK, Canada and Germany ranked 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

 

(Cantonese Opera Version) Glory to Hong Kong x Sia-chandelier

Source: Hong Kong Free Press, Dec 2019

The song pays homage to Cantonese opera, which the group consider to be intimately tied with Hong Kong identity – an issue that strikes at the heard of the protest movement, as a fight to preserve a local culture under threat.

 

Tech Company Valuations

Source: ZeroHedge, Dec 2019

Technology can be thought of as the development of new tools. New tools enhance productivity and profits, and productivity improvements afford a rising standard of living for the people of a nation. Put to proper uses, technological advancement is a good thing; indeed, it is a necessary thing.

Like the invention of bricks and mortar as documented in the book of Genesis, the term technology has historically been applied to advancements in tangible instruments and machinery like those used in manufacturing.

Additional examples include the printing press, the cotton gin, and the internal combustion engine. These were truly remarkable technological achievements that changed the world.

described by Ben Thompson of stratechery.com –

This highlighted another critical factor that makes tech companies unique: the zero marginal cost nature of software.

To be sure, this wasn’t a new concept: Silicon Valley received its name because silicon-based chips have similar characteristics; there are massive up-front costs to develop and build a working chip, but once built additional chips can be manufactured for basically nothing.

It was this economic reality that gave rise to venture capital, which is about providing money ahead of a viable product for the chance at effectively infinite returns should the product and associated company be successful.

To summarize: venture capitalists fund tech companies, which are characterized by a zero marginal cost component that allows for uncapped returns on investment.

If a publicly traded company can convince the investing public that they are a legitimate tech company with scalability at zero marginal cost, it could be worth a large increase in their price-to-earnings multiple. Investors should be discerning in evaluating this claim. Getting caught with a pretender almost certainly means you will have bought high and will be forced to sell low.