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Internet Culture Medical

Day 1260 and Boredom

I’ve never understood boredom. I am very much the kind of nerd who enjoys learning. I’m mostly topic agnostic so life has been a pretty joyful experience of deep dives & rapt attention.

I struggle to be empathetic towards boredom as everything interests me. I don’t know if curiosity is innate or learned but I’m glad I have it in abundance.

The closest I get to understanding boredom is the exhaustion and brain fog that comes with illness. I’ve had an awful bout of Covid that I’ve intermittently worked through over the past two weeks.

My mind just has less capacity to hold onto focus. I’m in pain and the misery of the experience makes it harder to do more than the basics. I normally thrive on focus but now I’m stuck in ongoing being able to do tasks that require less cognitive overhead.

This has led to a kind of boom and bust set of cognition for me as I save up my focus for the deals that just can’t wait and then I am like a zombie on my fun unable to do much as finish a pdf about “situational awareness.” Maybe this is what they meant by boredom all along?

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Biohacking

Day 1258 and Relapse

I woke up feeling reasonably good this morning. I thought perhaps my prayers have been answered. I have been managing a case of Covid for over a week so I really wanted to be turning the corner on recovery.

It’s hard fully rest with an infection and this case overlapped with a lot of big things for my portfolio companies. That excitement made it even harder to stay away from working. I was joyfully working all weekend for multiple deadlines.

I’ve not been the best behaved patient though I have stayed in bed. I thought I’d at least maintained the appropriate protocols for sleep, nutrition, supplements and medication.

What I really wanted was to go outside and enjoy the weather. June in Montana is heaven. Cool bright mornings turn into sunny dry days.

I thought that a short walk in this type of environment would be healthy. I walked the property and down our dirt road. I wasn’t out for more than twenty minutes.

Walking by our little pond fed by a creek.

It was too much. By early afternoon I was exhausted, feverish and coughing. I slept but it was the fitful half conscious sleep of the sick.

I am disappointed as I want this to be over. The pushback from supposedly health giving activity like strolling in the morning sun was immediate. It isn’t over and I’ve been punished for joyful nativity. But damn it’s a beautiful day to be alive.

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Startups

Day 1257 and Other People’s Labor

I am laying prone in bed hopped up on DayQuil and the good codeine cough medication. I have Covid and apparently this bout will be no picnic.

Being sick can feel vulnerable. I imagine to most eyes I am economically and socially unproductive in this condition. I am not able to labor.

When I am sick I am grateful I get to be capital. I feel capitalism should appeal anyone with a disability (as I do) simply because comparative advantage allows us to exist without being at of the mercy of the state. Illness being disabling doesn’t mean low productivity.

My ability to be capital relies on the comparative advantage of specializing in startup kinda of startups. Practically it means I got to play a part in helping further the labor of others looking build a company.

Today was a big day on that front for me. One of my investments (humble brag I was their first commitment) Squads announced their Series A today.

They have come a long way since when I wrote about them on day 301 to where they are today on day 1257. A lot happened between fall of 2021 and Summer 2024. Now they are the market leading multi-sig wallet on Solana thanks to their Squads protocol.

They began with a vision of DAO tooling and ended up simply dominating code Solana primitives. They are doing the work of developing smart account technology and products that make it easier for businesses and individuals to securely manage and own digital assets. And they continue to make crucial tooling like Fuse.

For all the mania of meme coins and tokens, we can forget it’s real companies making real infrastructure.

These things have to be built for grander vision to exist in crypto and Squads has clearly been the team to do it. They have worked relentlessly shipping tools people want to use and build with.

When first met their CEO Stepan in Twitter DMs I had the privilege of seeing their early days upfront. There was never a moment that they were not listening to the market and adapting. I spent much of the summer of 2021 on DAOs because of their influence.

Everyone on the team practically wanted to do the work of building out what was needed for us to transact and govern in a trustless environment as individuals and as groups. I was inspired by their commitment to execution.

I am just a small part of their journey. But being able to provide the kind of specialized capital that could understand what they wanted to build from the start is a huge source of pride for me. Without early stage oddity investors like me it would take just a little longer for the entrepreneurs like Stepan, Deni and Sean to get to market. And the market deserves a company like Squads. Their hard labor built something of value.

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Startups

Day 1255 and Venture Nurture

I sometimes wonder why venture capital hasn’t coded more feminine. The cynic in me say because it makes money and money accords status. Where there is status there are men competing for it. Which is a good thing in my book.

I just happen to find the kind of investing I do to be so feminine in character. I’d never really thought of my gender when I got into startups simply because I was a founder with a problem and technology solved it for me. I was a nerd about a few very specific things and the market agreed with me.

But now as the wider world has forced me reconsider gender and how my identity gets used by others in how I do business. And I do see that I approach my investing in traditionally feminine terms. I wasn’t that kind of founder. But I am that kind of investor. 

I nurture. I love finding a weirdo working on something in a weird corner of the internet. Nothing makes me happier than telegraphing out that I am weird and getting back other weirdos. I like to listen. I like to learn. I don’t mind unpolished or outlandish or even absolutely crazy. My best deals all started in DMs

Nerds aren’t a polished people. They may lack all kinds of social graces. They will often not care about anything but the thing they are obsessing over. And I happen to find this to be a good thing.

Not everyone agrees that we should work with their lack of graces. Ruxandra Teslo discussed how weird nerds are being pushed from institutions like academia.

Weird Nerds are being driven out of academia by the so-called Failed Corporatist phenotype”

Ruxandra Teslo

I am just absolutely here for the weird nerds. They are my tribe and I see it as part of my path to help bring more of them up behind me. To nurture is a feminine virtue. I am happy to bring it to my founders. They should all feel safe coming to me because they know that I am one of them and my goal is to see them thrive.

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Startups

Day 1254 and Zipppp

I hadn’t expected to have a busy day. I’m really not enjoying having Covid. It’s an inconvenience and it sucks.

But suddenly I was getting all good news from all sides. A startup with a round. Another founder preparing to go out for an enviable raise with exceptional traction. An SPV for a round everyone wants in on. A colleague who had been thinking of taking action on a thesis is going to run an experiment. It’s just all very much my investments and my ecosystem thriving.

I felt like I was in William Gibson’s Jackpot. Incredible things are happening across so many industries and the world is an absolutely chaotic mess. It’s nothing but wars, gerontocracy and resource constraints out there. But here we are working.

Chaos pulls acceleration out of us because we must solve the problems in front of us. War and geopolitical turmoil and climate change require us to shoulder more.

We have real engineering challenges in compute, nuclear, decentralized systems, artificial intelligence and open source to solve to get to meaningful breakthroughs.

The problems are not easy. But our tools are getting better and the compounding effect of this renaissance in intelligence is that we might be able to build for bigger things.

Doomerism wants to focus on how bad things are. And I am the last person to disabuse you of a realistic model of what we are up against. I live off grid in Montana, I own crypto and I like my freedoms.

Humans are resourceful. Given ingenuity and incentive incredible talent has the will to say that I will take on this piece of the future for all of us.

It’s such a privilege to be woven into the ecosystem that is getting us through the Jackpot. And dare I say maybe the application of our ingenuity gets a better result and we can improve on Gibson.

The fictional “jackpot” described in the novels is an “androgenic, systemic, multiplex” cluster of environmental, medical and economic crises that begins to emerge in the present day and eventually reduces world population by 80 percent over the second half of the 21st century

The Jackpot Trilogy.

Maybe we can improve on these numbers. We’ve got the doomer version in our imaginations so now we can find a solution. Life, as Jeff Goldblum reminds us in Jurassic Park, finds a way.

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Startups

Day 1246 and Slightly Disappointed

I am a bit tired so this could all be jet lag speaking but I’m feeling slightly disappointed. While I’ve found great inspiration in the work of my peers, I see the failures and venality too.

I am at Consensus and I’m unsure if I feel like we’ve got enough people building the future I want to see. I fear for the unraveling of the old powers and what the transition looks like. It seems like a lot of people will be voting for a convicted felon for commander in chief.

And yet there is hope. The conference coincides with the annual Coincenter dinner which is an industry wide non profit effort to work towards policy goals for decentralized computing like Bitcoin & Ethereum and the wider cryptocurrency.

Our mission is to defend the rights of individuals to build and use free and open cryptocurrency networks: the right to write and publish code – to read and to run it. The right to assemble into peer-to-peer networks. And the right to do all this privately.

Erik Vorhees delivered an incredible moving keynote address and I found myself with tears in my eyes as I considered the long history of fighting to become your own master. We separated church and state. We are fighting to separate money and state. I feel these philosophical lineages across my entire life.

And so I am slightly disappointed at this point. But I’ll try to sleep and it will pass.

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Internet Culture Startups

Day 1245 and AI: Tool Versus Master

A bad workman blames his tools

Idiom

As we rapidly accelerate the power of our computing tools, machine learning has blossomed into the most heated topic in government policy, business strategy, and popular culture, as artificial intelligence begins to affect everyday life.

The focus on harms, and in particular singularity doomerism, has (ironically) pulled focus from the implications of the seminal “attention is all you need” paper.

Astonishing as it may seem at times, intelligence does not top out at “median human”, but can, and possibly will, go much further.

What a triumph this represents. We will all have access to tools that will enable our entire species to build. More intelligence applied to more problems means more solutions to very real human problems.

I am in Austin Texas for Consensus 2024. I’ll be participating a town hall to discuss how crypto’s mindset of open-source, decentralized computation might help us grapple with who builds, maintains, & owns AI tools.

Policymakers and Silicon Valley executives are both calling for regulation of artificial intelligence as fears grow over its potential harms. But others warn of entrenching a dominant, opaque, centralized Big Tech model and instead advocate for open-source code, decentralized computation and distributed data sourcing. Whom should policymakers listen to? What, if anything, can governments do to help this vital technology evolve in a pro-human way?

Thankfully, we aren’t starting from scratch in building a regulatory framework for artificial intelligence. Code has been treated as speech in Bernstein v. United States Department of State. It would seem like a reasonable precedent to consider algorithms speech as well.

And let us be clear, math and computing power are as essential as speech. In today’s world, they ARE speech. Humans may speak in natural language, but the way we extend ourselves, build things, and grow as a species is through our tools. Computation is a tool. To presume that these tools do harm is to make us bad workmen.

Now of course incumbent powers may try to keep the disruptive and democratizing power of these tools out of the hands of the populace “for their own safety”, but imagine if the first amendment had been frozen in time at the printing press and didn’t protect the internet? We cannot accept permanently lowered standards of fundamental rights.

The 90s era fight for strong encryption enabled a flourishing of digital businesses from finance to e-commerce. We must insist that the freedom to innovate remains the default for U.S. digital policy.

Ultimately, I agree with R Street’s Adam Thierer. He says “fear based narratives that prompt calls for preemptive regulation of computational processes and treat AI innovations ‘as guilty until proven innocent’ are no way to make good policy.”

America does not have a Federal Computer Commission for computing or the internet but instead relies on the wide variety of laws, regulations, and agencies that existed long before digital technologies came along.

R Street Comments on NTIA

If we are to regulate sensibly, let us treat artificial intelligence as we would any other tool and let us do so within the existing framework of our constitutional rights and their interpretations within past precedents.

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Startups Travel

Day 1244 and Twenty Four Hours To Go

Discussing travel mishaps has become something of a national pastime for Americans.

Memorial Day Weekend is the official kick off to summer and I had the good fortune of doing a transcontinental flight. And by and large it went smoothly and enjoyably. It was a record breaking day for travel.

I was on a route I’d never done before flying Munich to Houston. I was on my way to my favorite crypto convention Consensus.

Despite the record breaking number of travelers, I had a pleasant United flight. The westward flights can be tricky for sleep as it’s not an overnight.

The logistics of this worked out as I slept 6 hours before a 4am wake up for the positioning flight and then on my flat lay got nearly a very decent four plus hours.

Munich to Houston is 10 hours & I slept well

My RHR was pretty high from the stress of flying but I was quite impressed that I got restorative sleep and REM. Those flat lays on Polaris really are worth it.

Once I landed in Houston I had a short layover where I was lucky enough to enjoy a sit down meal in the Polaris Lounge. I only wish I’d had more time to enjoy it but clearing customs, going back through security and rechecking luggage takes time.

After all this incredibly pleasant travel there has to be something right? I had a half mile walk to the E gates for my Austin flight. Americans don’t queue well so I arrived at the beginning of boarding. The entire plane boarded only for us to realize we had a serious mechanical issue.

We then deplaned and walked from the end of E gates to the very end of the C gates (about 22 minutes as the New Yorker walks and a mile and a half) to get to the new plane.

The crew was in danger of timing out while catering needed to do a supply for a down line flight. Someone’s executive decision worked in our favor as we got into the air without getting ice for whoever had the airplane next.

What is a two hour drive turned into a five hour ordeal but I made it in one piece and passed out much later than I intended after a full twenty four hours in transit.

Finally asleep at my hotel in Austin after a 4 hour mechanical failure & airplane change for a 30 minute fly time

If you are in Austin and interested in discussing the intersection of crypto and artificial intelligence I’d love to hear from you. I might need a bit more sleep first though.

A 10,000 step day is pretty good when most of it is sitting on airplanes.
Categories
Startups Travel

1241 and Catching My Breath

Next week I’ll be flying to Austin for what’s become an annual crypto pilgrimage to Consensus. I am excited as it’s like summer camp.

I’ll be participating in a few private sessions but I’ll be a speaker in public town hall forums as well. If you will be in Texas for the event (or are simply in the city) drop me a note on Twitter and perhaps we can overlap.

Given the intensity of the travel I have ahead of me I’m trying to take it easy today and tomorrow. I’ve been doing laundry and organizing myself.

I am not a hot weather person so I worry about events in hot climates in the summer. Heck, I worry about hot climates even in mild seasons. Last year I found myself struggling with Frankfurt in May so summer in Texas isn’t exactly my easy season.

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Internet Culture Startups

Day 1239 and @ Consensus 2024 Next Week

I’ll be in Austin Texas next week for Consensus 2024. I’ve really enjoyed my last couple of years attending. The entire crypto industry gathers for it giving it a summer camp feel. Or as Coindesk says “10 years of decentralizing the future” which undersells their role in reporting the industry.

The conference coincided with the annual Coincenter dinner which is an industry wide non profit effort to work towards policy goals for decentralized computing like Bitcoin & Ethereum and the wider cryptocurrency.

Our mission is to defend the rights of individuals to build and use free and open cryptocurrency networks: the right to write and publish code – to read and to run it. The right to assemble into peer-to-peer networks. And the right to do all this privately.

In that vein, I’ll be discussing the intersection of artificial intelligence as the #FreedomToCompute at Consensus as this is THE issue for everyone who uses compute as a tool to solve problems.

It’s an opportunity to discuss the big public goals around the future of machine money and machine intelligence.

I’d argue this includes the entire software industry and by default anyone who is reading this post. Our most important rights will be decided by how we handle policy on these issues. Math is leverage.

One of the town halls I’ll be participating in at Consensus (a format I love to dig deep into topics) is about how artificial intelligence can be a tool for our efforts to decentralize and not end up as a master of big government or big tech.

Crypto has the basic problems facing artificial intelligence. Both spaces rely on open, available and trustless compute. Both are under intense scrutiny and face significant regulatory capture risks.

It’s never been a better time to get involved in these topics. We need open protocols and interoperability standards far more than we need fretting about safetyism and hysterics about science fiction.

Doom solves no problems but software does. We need safe harbors and policy sandboxes so we can continue to nurture algorithmic innovation for us all.