What I read this week...Long Live The American Dream

What I read this week...Long Live The American Dream
Os, go off king.

I guess if I had to put it all simply it would be legalize conversation, legalize being wrong in the pursuit of truth, legalize technology, legalize building, legalize actual progress not "progress", legalize the best among us and the best within ourselves to make an impact on humanity

"If America doesn't want me, I'm here for America...I will go to NYC, I will buy a bicycle, I will work Uber. I was a streamer and gamer. I deleted all my videos off YouTube and Facebook. When I was 5 years old I feel myself an American guy. Because I love Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Eminem, 2pac, Travis Scott, Lana Del Rey. If I get sent back I will kill myself. I will work in the trash. I'm ready to do anything for America." -Os in a video interview, immigrant from Morocco going after the American dream. King, come and fucking get it. Get in here and become a billionaire. We want you. We need you. US needs to massively increase immigration for skilled workers but also for hustlers like Os. We know how to build highly effective screening systems, this is not impossible.

In 1943, neurophysiologist Warren McCulloch and mathematician Walter Pitts wrote a paper on how neurons might work. In order to describe how neurons in the brain might work, they modeled a simple neural network using electrical circuits.” Crazy to think that the foundation of generative AI was theorized 80 years ago.

Benedict Evans, AI and Everything Else. End of year presentation that is a great summary of what's going on in tech. Here's some quotes from it. “In my lifetime I’ve seen two demonstrations of  technologies that struck me as revolutionary…the GUI and ChatGPT.” - Bill Gates" In the 60s and 70s, databases were considered AI. “Artificial Intelligence is whatever hasn't been done yet” -Larry Tesler, early 1970s. Because once something works we just call it software. “AI gives you infinite interns.” - Benedict Evans. Benedict talks about how maybe humans don't have "general intelligence" either, we all are riddled with cognitive biases.

Great rundown on how ChatGPT and LLMs work by a former Tesla AI/OpenAI chad. Some notes: Wild to me that we know that these things are improving but we don’t fully understand how they work and how the parameters are interacting. ALl they do at a basic level is predict the next word. There is another step done to make them like assistants. Because if you just give them questions they will just generate more questions. He discusses a couple things that we will get in the future: We need to be able to allow the model to think if you don’t need the answer right away, and this increases accuracy. AND, self improvement. DeepMind learned the game of Go, it got really good by playing itself. At first it was playing human games. Now take this but in LLM, we need an easy to determine reward function, in a game it’s a win or a loss. In generative AI it's more murky. But if we find it, the models can train themselves.

Amazing interview by Ben Thompson with a couple AI heavy weights who are deeply involved in the industry- Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross. You need a subscription to view it. I highly recommend.

Jeff Bezos did his first long form interview on the Lex podcast. It was awesome. Here are some of my notes / quotes: "Space is a way to preserve earth. We can move heavy industry to space." "Lowering costs makes the whole world richer. A plow was invented, whole world became richer because farming became less expensive." "When you have people creating space companies in a dorm room that’s how you know we’ve made it"- right now the barrier to entry is too big. "Humans are not truth seeking animals, we are social animals"- why it's so hard to speak the truth. "LLMs are less an invention and more a discovery. We are constantly learning new things about how it works." Wild to think about. We don't know how LLMs work, yet we built them. "Human brains use much less power to do the same thing as an LLM. So there is something we are missing."

Balaji & Beff Jezos Respond To Forbes Doxxing The e/acc Leader, great podcast that really boils down to the tech vs media information war. Is it any wonder why old school media hates tech, it at their lunch:

Some thoughts on where the war in Ukraine is headed by Noah Smith. Some notes:
"Thus, for the next year or two, Russia — a country with a GDP only the size of Italy’s — will be singlehandedly outproducing the entire West in terms of some of the most essential weapons of war...So if Trump gets elected and Russia is able to conquer the rest of Ukraine, expect the Baltic states to be next. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are small countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union, and would offer Putin access to the Black Sea. They have tiny populations, and their only real defense is their NATO membership. With NATO defunct, Putin would roll over them. And NATO’s lack of ability to defend its member states would destroy the alliance forever...Europe has failed to make the necessary investments in increased industrial production capacity and defence spending. With the notable exception of Poland, many national commitments to significant additional defence spending have…not yet materialised...In other words, America helped Ukraine survive Russia’s initial assault, but it’s Europe’s job to make sure Ukraine survives in the long term. Europe has the population and the industrial capacity to hold off any Russian threat short of a full-scale nuclear attack; if it refuses to do so, and leaves itself open to Russian attack, Europe will have only its own ineffectuality to blame. If this happens, Europe will have proven itself to be a defunct civilization — a “garden” without walls, a region rich on paper and pleasant to look at, but capable of neither industry nor self-defense. Such non-powers can survive for a while, but eventually a conqueror will arrive, and the garden will burn."

Centralization watch: threatening the value of your ETH

MemoryCache, a Mozilla Innovation Project, is an early exploration project that augments an on-device, personal model with local files saved from the browser to reflect a more personalized and tailored experience through the lens of privacy and agency.

"Younger people need to stop waiting around thinking that older folks—especially politicians—are going to fix the world. The average age of the moon landing control room was 28. The average age of the Manhattan Project scientist was 25. US Founding Fathers were only 18, 20, 21, 25, 33, 40, 41, 44."

"An authoritative new study finds there are 183 regional and local conflicts underway in 2023, the highest number in three decades. It’s not just Ukraine and Gaza: war is on the rise everywhere by Max Hastings." This is what happens when America retreats from the world.

"At $125k+, the car wash manager at a (very large) gas station in rural Texas makes more than most doctors in Europe."

"Between 2012 and 2023, it appears that average OECD reading, math and science scores have declined consistently. This is not (just) about pandemic learning loss. It’s not about one US city. It’s not even just the US. This is the entire developed world."

"Intel says its Core Ultra 7 165H chip offers an 11 percent improvement in multi-threading performance when compared to competing laptop processors, like the AMD Ryzen 7 7840U, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, and Apple’s in-house M3 chip. It also offers a 25 percent reduction in power consumption when compared to the previous Intel Core i7-1370P and has up to 79 percent lower power than AMD’s Ryzen 7 7840U “at the same 28W envelope for ultrathin notebooks.” The comeback is real. We shall see.

"Truly tragic how little has changed in 80+ years in SF. Remove the cars from the video and you cannot tell it was shot in 1940 instead of 2023."

"CEO of IBM @ArvindKrishna admits to using coercion to fire people and take away their bonuses unless they discriminate in the hiring process."

"The whole American meritocracy and its institutions are living the adage that 'wealth does not last beyond three generations.' Built from 1940-70, stewarded from 1970-2000. Squandered from 2000-30 by people who took their inheritance for granted and were spoiled by it."

Dean of Harvard is a serial plagiarizer. Our elite institutions must be reformed.

"The short form version of "what happened?" is: Our intellectual betters abandoned civility for an orgy of radical, histrionic, pinched, hectoring moralism, and everyone hates the outcome. "

"Traffic citations in San Francisco seem to have disappeared. Is the city not interested in any sort of law enforcement?" When laws are not upheld, it's the vulnerable among us who suffer the most.

"If you're a rich person, instead of giving your millions to Harvard, you should probably give it to Cal State or SUNY." Economic mobility is all that matters.

"Harvard only bends when it’s a student with cancellable tweets from high school, not when its own administrators are asleep at the wheel. Different rules. Very simple."

"Wow…Brown had 41 students arrested and booked for occupying a university building yesterday. They were 'photographed, fingerprinted and provided their arrest paperwork' on site. A university spokesperson said, “the disruption to secure buildings is not acceptable, and the University is prepared to escalate the level of criminal charges for future incidents of students occupying secure buildings.”

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” - Alfred North Whitehead

"This is shameless grandstanding. Congress has no role to play in determining the leaders of these universities." Agreed.

"Devoid of higher meaning or purpose, life descends into despair, decadence, and decay. Pushing the boulder of civilization ever upwards gives us purpose; even as each triumph proves fleeting, dwarfed by the vast mysteries that the Universe still conceals from us. There are uncountable peaks yet to be scaled, and galaxies to be explored. Driven by a compulsive, yet punishing need to overcome the next threshold, we discover the essence that makes Human life worth living, and Human civilization worthy of flourishing. The indomitable Human spirit gives us strength to push through the pain and seize control of our destiny."

"Third world banana republic tier stuff going on. Terrorize your industrialists when they don’t toe your party line even in the case of companies that clearly advance the strategic interests of the country. Disgusting." - roon, on Biden administration targeting Elon Musk's companies because they don't like his politics.

"The function of the New York Times is to speak power to truth"

"Pope warns TV, radio, can enslave men's minds."

"DEI must DIE. The point was to end discrimination, not replace it with different discrimination."

Naval Power in the Pacific: China vs. The United States || Peter Zeihan. China can build ships much faster than the US, but the range and capability of those ships are low. US also has guided missiles that can take out naval targets with ease. China has some capability here, but they are satellite guided and we have strong capability in blowing their satellites out of the sky. Zeihan shares an anecdote that in 2008ish China blew up one of their satellites as a test, the next day the US blew up a half dozen of our own old satellites using a half dozen different weapons programs, just to prove a point. 

Benedict Evans on the EU's new AI act: "In principle, I think this is the wrong level of abstraction. Databases, like AI, raised all sorts of legitimate public policy concerns, but we didn’t pass a General Database Act - we passed laws in the domains where the issues arose, from credit card to criminal records."

"Harvard President Lowell set quotas for Jews in the 1920s. The difference then is that there was a national uproar against antisemitism in response. That led to the development of today’s admission policies, which consider a much broader array of factors than just academic merit. While I am supportive of considering a broad array of factors in selecting candidates for admission, we have likely gone too far away from merit based selection. The pendulum has swung too far in large part due to the ideology of the DEI movement. Candidates deemed ‘oppressed’ are massively advantaged in the process versus those deemed the ‘oppressors.’ This is a crazy rubric as it advantages the daughter of the billionaire of color who went to Exeter over a poor white boy from Mississippi from a single parent family who was educated in a single-room school house and scored 1,600 on his SATs." - Bill Ackman

"Americans are happier with their jobs than they have been since the late 80s, according to a recent Gallup poll, and “employee engagement in the United States is higher than in Australia, Canada, and every country in Europe, and more than six times higher than in Japan. (The Atlantic)"

"Why liberalism and leftism are increasingly at odds. The progressive coalition is splitting over Israel and identity politics." Good read by Nate Silver.

"Employment and GDP growth look good. Mortgage rates are falling. Stocks up 5% this month alone. The Fed is talking 2024 rate cuts. Big box stores seeing outright deflation in bulky items"

"The centralized control of technology doomers once led to government-controlled virus gain-of-function research that created COVID. COVID vaccines were created after, by the private sector. Nothing was learned."

"1. Teens' self-reported relationship with parents is near an all-time high and has generally increased since 2000 2. Teen satisfaction with life generally rose in between 1990 and 2008 and went straight down 2012-2020"

"Blue cities don't build housing, and this is what happens. There are more homeless people in Los Angeles County than in Texas and Florida combined. In the entire history of the US, homelessness has never been less of a "national problem." It is primarily a problem of expensive cities in blue states, especially on the West Coast + NYC"

"Elon Musk is planning to start a university in Austin, Texas, per the Bloomberg.. The new institution, seeded with a roughly $100 million gift from Musk, will start with a STEM-focused primary and secondary school."

Boston mayor hosts holiday part for elected people of color only. Seems to me all skin types should be partying together.

"A highly important open question about AIs has been whether they can actually discover new things. Today, a new Nature paper has shown that LLMs can! A model "discovered new solutions for the cap set problem, a longstanding open problem in mathematics." We are just getting started.

"The DEI thing started with good intent, to be sure, but it has been a grift for a long, long time. "

"The Atlantic: Turns out that encouraging the use of hard drugs, even with “harm reduction”, is a terrible idea that has only led to more misery."

"Auto and telephone killed romance" writes paper in 1927.

"We are non-partisan, one issue voters: If a candidate supports an optimistic technology-enabled future, we are for them. If they want to choke off important technologies, we are against them." -a16z. I fucking love this.

"My understanding of American economics for the last 30 years is every decade everyone notices the obviously nonsensical bubble, the economy explodes, then a bunch of nerds accidentally invent another trillion dollar money printer and everything is fine for another 10 years."

Oklahoma governor signs executive order to end diversity, equity, and inclusion offices at all public higher education institutions.

"BREAKING: Israeli ambassador @TzipiHotovely rejects the idea of a two-state solution. The answer is absolutely no", she says."

"This is how civilizations decline. They quit taking risks. And when they quit taking risks, their arteries harden. Every year there are more referees and fewer doers...if you want the future to be good, you must make it so." - Elon Musk

"BREAKING: @NRCgov has voted to issue a construction permit to Kairos Power for the Hermes demonstration reactor to be built in Oak Ridge, TN – a critical step on our iterative pathway to commercializing advanced reactor technology."

Optimus Tesla robot is advancing.

"If the murder rate had gone down under Trump and up under Biden, my guess is conservatives would see that as a really big deal. Instead it’s the opposite so 🦗🦗🦗"

"Wage growth for Gen Z over the last few years has been very high, much higher than other cohorts. Yet polls show Gen Z is often the likeliest to say the economy is bad. Why?"

"Nearly a month after President Biden said that he and Chinese President Xi had agreed to resume direct military communications, U.S. defense officials have repeatedly tried to reach their Chinese counterparts but not received any responses, officials say."

NYT defending Harvard dean's plagiarism. These people are shameless.

"Harvard is a place where you may calmly discuss genocide but not genetics."

"9.7% of adult Americans are millionaires. 39.1% of all millionaires live in the United States."

"Use AI to substitute other protected identities. Replace 'jews' with 'black or brown people' or 'LGBTQ+'"- Josh Wolfe on the congressional testimony by deans of Harvard, MIT, and Penn.

"Russia: *takes 315,000 casualties to seize 11% of a country that used to be its province*America: *takes 0 casualties* Twitter dorks: AMERICA LOST ANOTHER WAR, RUSSIA BEAT US, WE LOSE EVERY WAR, AMERICA IS A COLLAPSING EMPIRE"

"The problem is too many people love that social club, that status, the superiority that comes with that degree. Admission is the defining success of too many, and the nostalgia too thick— they’ll never admit what it’s becoming."

"'Capitalism bad!' yells @DeanPreston from his Alamo Square (median home price $1.5M) mansion purchased in cash."

"America’s top universities should abandon their long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning."

"The Obama administration wanted more black air traffic controllers. So they designed a new test where you got extra points if you got bad grades in high school science or you’ve been unemployed for a long time." This feels like the wrong way to solve the problem. What if you were black and had good science grades in high school and were currently employed?

"The US unemployment rate has been less than 4% for 22 months straight. That's the longest stretch below 4% since the late-1960s. The unemployment rate never got lower than 4% once in the 1970s, 80s or 90s."