So this Valentine’s week turned out uneventful. Nevertheless the newsletters seem a bit slow this week and less technical. Took some time writing another post on the new gpt-2 model on a few… common writing applications.

People who attach dollar signs to their time — or “value time like money” — tend to be overwhelmingly less happy than those who don’t, because their nonworking hours suddenly seem less important. “Free” time gets tainted with guilt because there’s a cost associated with it.

I suppose then a sort of psychological judo would be to somehow make your free time productive. Much like doing something you enjoy but it helps your career anyway.

One of the most important competencies of a principal engineer is to become a force multiplier.. A good PE can speak to technical aspects of the product, connect planned work to business strategy and to what makes the company more successful and maybe most importantly, have the interpersonal skills to influence others around them towards these goals.

You enable.

When working at the senior engineer level, the focus is more on “getting tickets/projects done with little to no direction” and “being proactive in fixing tech debt or helping solve problems/bugs”. But once i became a principal, it became clear that by virtue of being one of a few, i now carried a larger impact on morale, organization culture and even on recruiting and representing my engineering organization outside of the company. Behaviours I display, either at the office or at tech events, are now a display of the behaviours my company rewards. My behavior is a signal to anyone who may consider working in my organization of whether we align in values or not.

You embody culture.

Blockchain

Online counterfeiting amounts to $323Bn in 2017. Counterfeit medicinal products can cause serious problems. Record the journey of a product to its source on a public blockchain.

Argh i was hoping this would explain how it might cover some of the issues such as false records and how to ensure that each transaction is properly recorded on the blockchain without having to rely too much on trusted intermediaries. Yes the case is clear… but how?

Can we come up with a decentralized infrastructure to create, fund, and work to resolve charitable causes without the bureaucracy and overhead of a traditional charity?

To answer that question, we need a few building blocks. First, a new token generation model might serve as a means to append value (and thus stir the profit motive in network participants) to almost anything in a crypto-connected world — a product, an action, or even a cause.Computer Science

The key concept here introduced is that of ‘token bonding curves’.

Oh goodness is this.. social impact bonds on the blockchain?

Big problems to solve: key management, sufficient access to blockchain infrastructure, optimising for Brave browser

Cash are bearer instruments — whoever holds on to it, it is theirs.

Cash transactions are peer-to-peer.

Bearer instrument + peer-to-peer = little to no trust required + permissionless

permissionless -> censorship resistant

peer-to-peer -> private because only participants need to witness it

Cashless society — you lose all of this.

Charities need cash flow to be faster but laws against money laundering and terrorist financing slow this down for ‘high-risk countries’. But these places tend to need it most.

Governments have high visbility of most payments, case in point is China. Good behaviour must be state-sanctioned. Social control enforced through intermediation.

Open society is quite good. But you need to have some level of privacy so that censors cannot act quickly on potentially radical ideas.

“Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.” ~ Eric hughes

The Conclusion:

As we have seen, the more intermediated our financial lives become, the more tempted corporate entities and government officials will be to spy on individuals or take steps to restrict how individuals can transact — often with the best of intentions…. Cash — and in an increasingly digital world, electronic cash — is a tool that law abiding private individuals can use to protect their privacy, autonomy, and ultimately their dignity. It should not just be tolerated, but fostered and celebrated. Not only do its benefits outweigh its costs, it is check that individuals may wield over abusive intermediaries. It will help ensure we do not lose our open society

Right off the bat, there is so much to ask here. The assumptions inherent in the arguments are not qualified properly. The key point is that disintermediation would bring us privacy necessary for an open society.

In a way the current manifestations of blockchain technology require a lot of peers to witness your transaction. Privacy does not exist on Bitcoin either with tracing techniques and tools.

A Token Curated Registry (TCR) is a mechanism to incentivize the decentralized production of a high-quality list…

To get on the list, an applicant nominates a list item and then stakes a minimum quantity of tokens. A challenge period begins. During the challenge period a challenger may stake an equal number of tokens and demand a trial.

These registries rely on Schelling Points, but there can be more than one.

Suppose that instead of researching information — which is costly — a group of voters vote their biases. If their biases are widely shared the result can easily lead to absurd but majority-profitable results.

Combine some existing tools with the idea of decentralisation

Thus, another lesson is that, if it all possible, even a decentralized mechanism should introduce opportunities for trust to develop. Verified users, ratings from independent parties, certifications from sources like Consumer Reports and Underwriter’s Laboratory are all important in the market process. A decentralized mechanism should make it easy for consumers and producers to develop, discover and use information from trusted sources. Signals of trust may also develop endogenously. Successfully placing items on a list may signal trustworthiness as a voter, for example. Mechanism designers may benefit by allowing trusted sources to be more influential in the mechanism process.

Blockchain-Ethereum

I.. will need to study this soon.

Some questions:

Where is the ecosystem heading?

What are some key blockchain-specific tools?

Synergies?

Prevailing standards?

Episode 1

Short 2 min video of a quick interview.

Build the infrastructure but do their best to decentralised it.

Tokenisation, decentralisation and financial infrastructure in this decentralised future will have tokenised assets.

I think this is an effort to clarify what exactly Consensys does. I’ve asked around and frankly not a lot of people out of the blockchain space know anything about Consensys. But even then it’s hard to keep out of jargon in a 2 min interview. So much assumed knowledge!

Computer Science

Reasons to consider another option

- The knowledge gained is too small on too wide a range of topics.

- Computer science programs are usually outdated.

- The cost is prohibitive.

- Degrees aren’t necessary for a lot of tech jobs.

So if you look at University as only a pathway to get a job. Then yes I would agree that a University degree would no be necessary to get a vocation. However, if one looks at University as an avenue to access cutting edge research and contribute to the field, then we should be careful at the surprising hubris this article exhibits.

Culture

A summary:

First you need to know where the individual lies based on the strength of the current relationship.

Start with building familiarity by leaving a pleasant impression but also to ensure they leave an impression on you (remember their name!)

Be interested in their life and ask! (prerequisite is that you are interested in their life, i think it’s a trap to just feign interest too)

If they’re open to you, share knowledge with them, connect them with people in your network too and offer support and friendship. this might look transactional but it’s really about being generous with what you can give.

Data Science

GPT-2 displays a broad set of capabilities, including the ability to generate conditional synthetic text samples of unprecedented quality, where we prime the model with an input and have it generate a lengthy continuation. In addition, GPT-2 outperforms other language models trained on specific domains (like Wikipedia, news, or books) without needing to use these domain-specific training datasets. On language tasks like question answering, reading comprehension, summarization, and translation, GPT-2 begins to learn these tasks from the raw text, using no task-specific training data

The samples were mind-blowing. Now I’m really worried. As Feynman once quipped about science being the key to both heaven and hell, the implications for such a powerful AI model would be unprecedented. The ability to automate reasonably realistic text generation coupled with the scale and reach of social media could possibly exhaust any counter information warfare efforts through sheer numbers.

This was so serious that OpenAI chose not to release the full version but merely a smaller versino of GPT-2. I wonder how the debate on what to do with such a tool would conclude.

Become a leader so you don’t have rely on others for AI technology.

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.”Development

Use AI to fight wars

China is also interested in AI capabilities for military command decisionmaking. Zeng Yi expressed some remarkable opinions on this subject, stating that today “mechanized equipment is just like the hand of the human body. In future intelligent wars, AI systems will be just like the brain of the human body.”

AI may allow China to achieve ‘leapfrog’ development by simply developing systems and technologies a generation better than what is currently available.

In this theory, the United States’ current advantages in stealth aircraft, aircraft carriers, and precision munitions actually would be long-term disadvantages because the entrenched business and political interests that support military dominance today will hamper the United States in transitioning to an AI-enabled military technology paradigm in the future.

Build an advantage based on market needs

Follow the rules of the market . . . accelerate the commercialization of AI technology and results, and create a competitive advantage. Grasp well the division of labor between government and the market

Build a strong hardware ecosystem as AI will be increasingly dependent on custom chips

Chinese firms Baidu (in partnership with Intel), Alibaba (via a new subsidiary, Pingtouge), and Huawei (via its HiSilicon subsidiary) have all established semiconductor design divisions focused on developing AI accelerator chips

Chinese success in commercial AI and semiconductor markets will influence China’s geopolitical power

because it reduces the ability of the United States government to put diplomatic and economic pressure on China and because it increases the technological capabilities available to China’s military and intelligence community

It seems a large focus on Chinese AI development will be on military uses. I was surprised (not really) that ‘military’ was mentioned 54 times in this article.

Test-driven development is the act of first deciding what you want your program to do (the specifications), formulating a failing test, then writing the code to make that test pass. It is most often associated with automated testing. Although you could apply the principals to manual testing as well.

  1. Use functions that exist and mock the function you are trying to build
  2. Dissect the test into smaller chunks
  3. Know what the errors check for eg. boolean assertion error, value assertion error

Ultimately, test-driven development provides us with a framework to think about our code at a more granular level. It is up to you, the developer, to determine how granular you should define your tests and assertions

Life Optimisation

“We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out.” — Theodore Roosevelt

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” — Epictetus

“The best revenge is not to be like that.” — Marcus Aurelius

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” — Marcus Aurelius

“There is good in everything, if only we look for it.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Character is fate.” — Heraclitus

“If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.” — Nicholas Nassim Taleb

“Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“This is not your responsibility but it is your problem.” — Cheryl Strayed

“You are only entitled to the action, never to its fruits.” — Bhagavad Gita

“Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.” — Epicurus

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” — Jose Ortega y Gasset

“Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” — Zeno

“Space I can recover. Time, never.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

“You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.” — Warren Buffett

“Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.” — Benjamin Franklin

“The world was not big enough for Alexander the Great, but a coffin was.” — Juvenal

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” — Winston Churchill

“Judge not, lest you be judged.” — Jesus

“Time and patience are the strongest warriors.” — Leo Tolstoy

“No one saves us but ourselves / No one can and no one may.” — Buddha

I think it is no coincidence that Stoic philosopher quotes were mentioned multiple times. Majority of them have to do with personal improvement from the perspective of sharpening the self through learning from others and honesty towards your own actions and behaviours.

When you do have a meeting, be sure to keep them small and focused on a clear agenda. Unless the meeting is a 1:1 with a manager or direct report, you should clearly outline the questions you’re trying to answer and the problems you’re hoping to solve.

Respect your colleagues. Avoid sidebars and put away laptops and phones. Unless you’re presenting, there’s absolutely no need to have your computer open or your phone out. If the meeting is so slow moving you feel the need to jump on Slack or work on something else, you probably shouldn’t be in that meeting in the first place.

Make your meetings small. If you do want to share the information with others, they don’t necessarily need to be in the initial meeting. Put your meeting notes on your intranet for the company to see.

Either participate or excuse yourself. If you’re not adding value or could spend your time better doing anything else, politely excuse yourself from the meeting…with one exception — company all-hands.

Decide. Be decisive and commit to a course of action, this is at the core of our Leadership Principles: A bias for action, and extreme ownership. You have to decide on the right course of action that will have the most significant impact on your customers’ experience. If you wait to get your team to consensus, you’ll miss an opportunity to serve and delight your customer.

Observe: Pay close attention to how your customer responds to the changes you’ve made. Ultimately, they are your barometer and will always give you the most authentic, unvarnished feedback about the changes you’ve implemented.

Adjust. After testing your hypothesis with your customers, be ready to shift your approach. If they respond well, congratulations, pat on the back and onward. If they aren’t so happy with it, listen to them and incorporate their feedback into the next iteration of your strategy/program/effort.

Will immediately apply this. I’ve been trying this out with Discovery Week’s planning. We’ve only had one meeting amongst ourselves and one more with registrar.

The only issue is usually when such meetings occur it’s hard to really find that level of mutual respect with the staff. I think this must be worked on vigorously.

A heartening read on the trials of Gumroad’s founder. If I read it correctly, it’s about focusing on creating value for the people that matter and sticking to that goal. The whole building a billion-dollar company thing didn’t seem to be the true goal of the founder from the beginning but an aspiration brought about by the atmosphere of SV.

Love is not something that continuously occurs in three-month increments.

Opposites may attract in love, but they don’t last.

A loving relationship shouldn’t exempt you from personal growth.

The most fulfilling love doesn’t require you to give up who you are.

The right person won’t pass by you.

The wrong time is just the wrong person.

In the spirit of valentine’s day i thought this article might be a sobering reminder of one of the most important aspects of living.

It seems love is serendipitous personal growth in the form of another person.

Successful People Initiate

That’s.. basically it! Proactive.

I’d like to add on though, it’s not just having initiative. I think at a higher level it’s about having the confidence to plan and then execute relentlessly.

Organisations

WARNING EXTREMELY LONG READ

There’s a strangely reminiscent feeling reading this article. My impression is that the ‘whistleblowers’ throughout the article are trying to absolve the responsibility for this sinking ship (pardon the pun). Recent news from Singapore’s Ministry of Health gives me the impression that this is happening at a daily basis at our own ministries.

When leaders are disconnected from the ground the ability to evaluate key problems diminish. If one is always at the strategic perspective the ground ops may be affected.

The cognitive dissonance is clear. I wonder if there are ways to get our leaders to understand ground sentiment and prioritise these issues without having to resort to confrontation.

ever curious