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Startups

Day 1055 and Shipping

All of startup world has spent the last few days wrapped up in the drama of OpenAI and why the board fired Sam Altman.

A theory I’d like to float (seriously but not literally) is that we are in the middle of a massive scissor statement war between “acceleration” and “deceleration” and we’ve assigned Jungian archetype champions & simple “just so” stories to the players.

There is very little nuance when you seek to find meaning in a situation by narrative alone. Recall that divide and conquer is an effective control technique and Silicon Valley is finding it must choose sides. Perhaps this is by design.

Everyone is overthinking this whole OpenAI debacle. The real explanation has been staring is the face for weeks.

Be concerned, be very very concerned.

Bojan Tunguz
I expect AI to be capable of superhuman persuasion well before it is superhuman at general intelligence, which may lead to some very strange outcomes

I think the “super” human part is how super stupid we are as a species when it comes to smoothing narratives and hero worship. We are easily persuaded by stories we recognize. This meme summed it up nicely.

Memes are just 21st century Jungian archetypes.

If you had an artificial intelligence trained on every single biography, history & public relations campaign in written history (let’s entertain the notion Altman did) wouldn’t this hijacking of narratives & assigning of fables be what it would do?

The vibes of Silicon Valley were checked. To make a joke about all the fan fiction we’ve collectively co-written on social media, we shipped the marriage of e/acc and Sam Altman. We shipped Altman and Brockman as loyal cofounder technology brothers in arms fighting for acceleration.

We told stories and made heroes and villains of the two narratives. Even though many of the factions in e/acc absolutely had criticized the regulatory capture approach of OpenAI. But once it was a choice between acceleration and deceleration sides were chosen.

When it was presented as a binary choice most chose a side on this easily. Acceleration is better on average than deceleration. I believe that too.

I have a lot of caveats and nuance in that choice, as I bet most people who work in artificial intelligence and Silicon Valley probably do. Yes change is hard and no change is without risk. Time marches on.

If it’s one or the other, sometimes people get irreparably split off entirely by the scissor. Be skeptical of this. Don’t separate yourself from people you know to be of good faith and conscience.

The only way we achieve anything is by doing the other kind of shipping. Ship your code, ship your product, make things and get feedback from people. Hero worship and archetypal battles don’t matter as much as taking action in your own life. Build things for yourself and for other people. That’s a human goal.

Categories
Media Startups

Day 1051 and Wild Speculation

My timeline got absolutely imploded by the news that Sam Altman has been fired by the board of OpenAI. I’ve got so many priors and biases and you probably can guess at some of them. Others I hope I’ve played a little closer to the chest. I do not know what happened.

Everyone in Silicon Valley is going Matthew McConaughey paranoid smoking conspiracies

I do think we’d know more about what the fuck was going if we had the kind of reporting that was a little more shoot from the hip and a little less tsk tsk regime. I’ve never missed Valleywag more.

I do think it’s been an impossibly weird week and everyone is as reactive as it is possible to be. Silicon Valley has always had factions and drama and the Federal government breathing down its neck. So this feels like a little bit of the same cycle of power and drama that we’ve always had. No one is ever an angel and the devils are often unexpected. It’s best not to make a martyr out of mercenaries. Just don’t be too sure you know what army you’ve been drafted into.

Categories
Startups

Day 1047 and Risking Resets

Apparently the last year has been an “annus horribilus” for startups. Kate Clarke writes in The Information.

If 2022 was a year of shock and denial for tech founders and investors as stocks collapsed, 2023 was a year of acceptance of their harsh new reality.

Kate Clarke “Startups’ Annus Horribilis—and What Comes Next”

Maybe I never got over my skis, but I don’t feel like I went through shock or denial as capital markets tightened. I remember a world before interest rates were low. I remember bad times. I have memories of bankruptcies and struggles to raise capital.

I was a teenager watching my father when tech crashed the first time. I was living in San Francisco working for a venture backed company that had acquired my startup when Sequoia said RIP good times and the global financial crisis unfolded.

Maybe the elder millennial timing of my life wasn’t as shitty as we thought. The constant crises were the norm. Unlike Gen Xers I never had a fear of selling out. I was much more interested in finding a way to survive. And I was disappointed to learn that the institutions didn’t really offer that anymore.

When I had good luck I didn’t think my accomplishments were my own. I mostly thought of them as accidents of survival. Praying for exits was less of a joke and more of a bitter reality. And when they did come it was a surprise.

I have made my peace with the risk of resetting the chess board. My optimism has always been tempered by expectations of crisis and chaos. I might even believe it’s for the best.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 1036 and The Right Direction

I’ve been in Europe for the last month. My itinerary included Tallinn, Helsinki and Amsterdam. It was a personal trip with work overlayed on top as the digital nomad as become a regular part of my life.

I have said it before but I don’t take as much pleasure as you might imagine from these trips. Much of the reason I spend so much time outside of America is simply that the State department won’t let in the kind of rare weirdo digital grey tribe talent from the portions of the world the United States has labeled as “bad passports.”

I’ve written about it extensively if you are interested. We’ve reached a crisis point in the dysfunction of our immigration and travel visa system in America and it weighed heavily on me and mine. It’s the most concrete evidence I have that America simply isn’t serious about being competitive in the global economy.

As I head back home to the states, I want to be sure I’m heading in the right direction with my priorities. I’ve been committed to crypto for close to a decade now. I’ve added in more focus as it’s become clearer we can’t rely on fiat and the dollar system. I’ve become part of the artificial intelligence explosion over the last two years. Now that the Network State concept is more formalized and we have rallying movements like e/acc, I feel as if some optimism is cautiously warranted. All it will take is twenty or thirty years of work and surviving the geopolitical tumult. No big deal right?

Categories
Startups Travel

Day 1024 and Rate of Change

I had to slow down for two weeks to balance out my work, my circumstances, world events and my emotions. I always find myself disappointed at slowing down. There is a certain mood taking a hold in my circles. A certain “extropian enthusiasm” has taken root.

And I find myself looking to go faster. I see the need for momentum. I struggle to stumble at the pace I keep now. My heart variability chart, which shows a kind of adaptability stress, is jerky with dips and rises. But I am also certain I’m managing better.

Have you ever felt like it was easier to lean into more? That sometimes things feel smoother when they are faster. Control remains an illusion so why not let it go.

I am thinking of going to Amsterdam for the Network State conference at the end of the month. The flight from Tallinn isn’t too bad and I’m a believer in the need to build systems. I owe much to supranational connections of shared values. And I’d like to us to pursue financial and contractual systems that connect us globally. The state should not be a limiting factor for progress.

And so I am thinking of my own rate of change. What can I sustain in my own daily life and circumstances and how does it stack against the increased rate of change of a future that is arriving fast? I like to think I’ll meet the moment but I’m certain I’ll be humbled by its arrival.

Categories
Startups

Day 1006 and Startup Towns

I was born in the startup Fertile Crescent of Silicon Valley. But I grew up outside of one of the many ecosystem towns. Boulder Colorado always took pride in not only its technical roots in aerospace and defense, but in its new software startups as well.

I admire people that build out a startup ecosystem. Understanding that a certain environment of agency breeds good outcomes. Maybe it’s a kind of boom town mentality in the good years. But in any year it’s good to be on the team that believes in the future. It feels as if people are pulling in the same direction.

I get the sense that Tallinn as a city and Estonia in general as a country believe in a better future. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing a city with a lot of construction. Offices also appear to be full but there is also housing in the city core. Everyone seems to have kids. I’ve never seen more first graders in a city.

The gentleman I met today said that in the future every country will be competing for every global citizen. I think that insight is at the heart of believing in a better future. You have to believe that if you are talented that countries will rightly compete to have you as its citizen. The frontier of the future will be found in finding the optimistic folks who believe that their efforts will make their chosen place better.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 1001 and Circumstances Change, People Do Not

“The last sustainable edge in markets is arbitraging human nature.”

I had the good fortune to spend an hour and a half with an iconic Wall Street investor last week. I was invited to be a guest on Jim O’Shaughessy’s podcast Infinite Loops. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

I’m blessed to have Jim as one of my “Twitter mutuals” where I’ve come to appreciate his endless curiosity, deep empathy and kind friendship for the players of the “infinite game” of life. Plus he’s got the strongest gif game in the business. You should follow him if you don’t already.

I’ve been privileged to work with Jim and the OSV team as one of my LPs in chaotic.capital. Being entrusted with capital from some of finest minds in investing has been as intimidating as it is inspiring.

My fund is an early stage pre-seed venture fund that backs weirdos. Our thesis is simple. The world is increasingly complex, chaotic if you will, and only the most agile will win. We look for those that have the agency to adapt to the one true constant; change. Circumstances changed by the moment but humans remain reassuringly the same.

Obviously it’s hard to imagine a better LP than OSV for chaotic.capital. We are deeply aligned in our thinking on agency, agility, and adaptability. As much as I’d love to prattle on here, I’d recommend you check out the very wide ranging conversations between Jim and I. We cover a lot of ground practically and philosophically. I hope you enjoy it.

Categories
Chronicle Media

Day 994 and Good Conversation

There are few pleasures in life as gratifying as having a good conversation with someone. I recorded a podcast with one of my absolute favorite Twitter mutuals and LP in chaotic.capital this morning. I don’t want to ruin the surprise (click here if you do) but it was a very good time and a very good conversation. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

I’ve had the good fortune to be in a few deep dive podcasts recently if you want a preview of the kind that of thinking and conversations that bring me joy.

I was recently a guest of Frazer Rice’s podcast Wealth Actually to discuss how the venture asset class has changed over the course of the last fifteen years. I was also a guest of Stewart Alsop III on his podcast Crazy Wisdom where we discussed the complexity spectrum of bringing our present into our future.

One of the most challenging aspects of doing the earliest stage investing in technology, and startups in general, is that we simply have no idea what the future will bring us. We have our best guesses.

That doesn’t mean we are flying blind. Like Captain Kirk, I trust some people’s best guesses a lot more than other people’s facts. But the harsh truth is that we are all doing our best with heuristics and humility.

And it’s through conversations with others do we get to improve our best guesses. Sharing insights and history helps us refine our process and worldview such that our knowledge broadens and deepens.

In conversation we share what’s worked for us and what we’ve seen across our own experiences. A good conversation is a pleasure unto itself but it’s also a window into the world of someone else. And I cannot imagine a more joyful way of improving yourself.

Categories
Community Internet Culture

Day 989 and Autopoietic Ergodicity

In one of my group chats, I hang out with a bunch of rationalist machine learning engineers who are happily climbing the rungs of accelerating life.

I really love the energy of the community as it’s centered tangibly around making things. It’s a little less talk and a lot more action. It’s got a bit of a feeling of Stack Overflow’s early helpfulness but without the Hacker News nerd sniping culture. It’s like the best of a small Reddit thread but for dudes who want to make shit with artificial intelligence.

Now, of course, every community finds itself with disruptive members and turf fights over social mores. Virtual spaces are notorious for clout chasing and personal dramas. Veterans of green text wars are familiar with Geeks, Mops and Sociopaths in Subculture Evolution.

And so it seems fitting that last night, in a much bigger very public egregore that is e/acc’s online community, we got to witness an immune reaction to someone trying to apply non-consensus standards.

I spent an hour watching it play out last night and then went back to reading before bedtime. I’ve got some personal investment in the space and it’s people, so of course that’s what I’m doing on a Friday Night.

But as I got up the next day and saw everyone going back to work, a insightful lowbie named bmorphism (slang for smaller anon accounts on Twitter within subcultures) introduced me to a term I’d never heard before. Autopoietic Ergodicity. Or how do multi-actor dynamic systems self regulate?

He introduced me Autopoietic Ergodicity via a link on PerplexityAI which seemed appropriate. And it got me thinking about how we as individuals interact on a much wider system and how it interacts with us.

The term combines two ideas by positing that complex adaptive systems (like living organisms or ecosystems) exhibit self-regulating behavior that enables them to maintain persistent patterns while also experiencing change from external influences. These systems are capable of minimizing changes caused by random factors, ensuring their essential dynamics remain stable without needing to undergo a complete reset or cycle back to the initial state. It’s like having a dampening mechanism that continually adjusts for fluctuations, allowing system resilience and long-term persistence in an ever-changing environment.

It’s my suspicion that something special is happening across portions of the fracturing social web as most of our platforms go back under more centralized control. The system is fighting back.

A meme using a Dune visual that originally has the elder Etreides saying to Paul “we need to cultivate desert power” with a substitution “autist power”

The grey tribes that have populated Silicon Valley have an opinion about the future. And it’s a positive one. We’ve got to find ways to be resilient in the face of memetic interference on our systems. There will be high energy distractions. We’ve got to be reminded that it’s a competition for efficient use of energy and we shouldn’t let it be drained. We’ve got to focus on making things that speak for themselves.

Categories
Community Internet Culture

Day 980 and I Am Beff Jezos

Humans are horny for hierarchy. We are eager to give our power away as a species. Please will someone else just be responsible for making our decisions for us? Can someone point me to the person in charge? “Take me to your leader!”

If someone seems smarter, richer, more capable, more aggressive, heck even if they have better taste than us, they become an instant candidate for us delegating our authority over to them. My most popular blog post ever was about dickriding. Yes it was about Elon Musk’s fans.

I’ll be the first to say that people who court you to gain power should be viewed as suspect. But someone who has power is not themselves always suspect by default. I know it’s a fine distinction. But people fall into positions of authority simply by going out and being competent. Competence is a fast route to power.

Sure being competent has a lot of downsides. Suddenly you’ve got power you maybe didn’t want. We have an incentive shunt power off to someone else as it generally sucks to be in charge. It’s energetically expensive to be responsible. Just ask one of your friends with a toddler.

Sometimes we have to wield power because it’s our job to take care of our corner of the universe. Again ask someone with a toddler. We are in charge of sustaining some portion of the grand experiment called life. Even if it’s just our own families. Even if it’s just yourself.

So why am I titling this post “I am Beff Jezos?” Right now online there is a movement gaining recognition for encouraging people to have agency and build for the future. It’s a movement that wants you to own your own power. And to help others get more power of their own.

One of the anonymous posters associated with it calls himself Based Beff Jezos as a play on Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon and the meme “based” as in Lil B’s “based means being yourself.” It’s a silly joke.

The movement itself identifies as e/acc which is a shorthand for effective accelerationism. It encourages people to do more, build more, take charge of their own corner of the world and make the future arrive sooner. The tagline? Accelerate.

It’s principles are simple. The future will arrive and we should build like it’s coming. Slowing things down, or even worse, going backwards, is not a solution to our problems. We can only go forward. If you’d prefer a driving metaphor, we should accelerate into the curve. Slowing down just spins out the car. Civilization is the car.

So what, you want to just uplift humanity, build AI and populate the universe with the maximum diversity and quantity of life?

e/acc

The movement is more of a meme space than anything else. It is decentralized. I’ve not met anyone that runs it though I’ve spoken to many vocal supporters. And I’ve chatted with folks that are at the nexus of of its online presence. Everyone is positive and friendly. Most of them are anonymous. I’m not even of sure if some of the accounts are singular or plural. Which is pretty cool. It doesn’t have a president or a CEO or even a founder who owns anything with any amount of authority. It could be one dude or multiple dudes gender non specific.

It’s just a bunch of people who make stuff. It’s popular amongst engineers but it’s an ethos that to anyone who can make something. Even this blog post counts. I am e/acc as much as anyone.

Naturally if no one is in charge it’s a bit threatening. If there is no hierarchy how do we control it? If no one is in charge then what will we do if someone under their banner does something bad?

Such is the beauty of an idea. A meme can’t really be owned. A decentralized group of goofballs on the internet can’t really be snuffed out for bad think. Maybe a few nodes go down. They literally cannot kill all of us.

I Am Spartacus

The messages does seem to be resonating. I know being hopeful has improved my mood. A decent number of people who make shit want the future to come a little faster. They want more people with more ownership of the building process.

More complexity and more abundance is appealing even if it seems impossible to achieve. Don’t worry, just build for your corner of the world. Put power and responsibility in as many hands as possible. We can build it together.

You too can have a toddler and own the joy of being responsible for your corner of the universe. It’s dangerous for sure. Folks will tell you for your own good you need to have a hierarchy and someone responsible for the power.

But guess what? It can be you. And sure heads will get bonked. Crying will ensue. Remember I said ask someone with a toddler? What if you are the competent and in charge parent? Shit right?

We’ve got to go forward. I am Beff Jezos. You too are Beff Jezos. And they can’t stop us all from arriving at the future. Go ahead and accelerate into the curve.