I want to believe that the current generation of applications powered by Large Language Model (LLM) don’t represent the height of the state of the art for prediction machines and that no single firm will reach 80% market share and go onto dominate the generative era. I want to believe that the future is quite open, and that these early returns we’ve made in applied machine learning can compound. It’s because I want to believe so much that it’s worth questioning the assumptions. What might cause the future to become closed? Does OpenAI scan its API logs for good ideas? In 2023, a surge of founders developed skins for OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Some based their startup on enabling a user to[…]

This story begins in a lecture room on an upper floor at Temple University in Philly on a pleasant summer day in 2018. John Hauser is delivering a cracking talk on recommendation engines. He launches into an aside about how the best real estate agents on earth facilitate their consumers’ own discovery of their own preferences. He’s challenging conventional doctrine. The grizzled grizzlies fold their arms and lean back in their chairs. The students from KU lean forward. I catch Luo’s eye and exchange smiles. We’re beaming. I got my popcorn ready. This is gonna be good. He tells a story about how an excellent real estate agent will listen patiently as you state preferences, and then they go onto[…]

I heard a belief on September 10, 2023 in Singapore: ~”When people lose money, they learn, they become more intelligent.” And I thought – huh. That’s kind of neat. I want to believe that. Is that true? Why do I want to believe that? I want to believe that it’s true because that would be awesome! It would mean diminishing returns for the wolves. Sure, a sucker is born is every second, but maybe a hundred are converted into skeptics every minute? If it was true, the world become progressively better. The population vulnerable to raiding, to fraud, to injustice, would be diminishing all the time. Sure, collectively, we would never get to zero, but it would approach some asymptote,[…]

I’m sorting out much of what I read of Gregory Bateson (1904-1980). And in his tradition, I’m going to make connections and then try to stand above it. Come and play. My entry point was Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), then I shot off into A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind Edited by Rodney E Donaldson (1991) and then Nora Bateson’s Small Arcs of Larger Circles (2016). I’ve been thinking a lot about the question David Graeber and David Wengrow asked in The Dawn of Everything (2021): why do groups of people differentiate? Bateson’s observation of schismogenesis – a combination of the word schism and genesis – is “a process of interaction whereby directional[…]

Moderation is a difficult good. Which is why I watched, curiously, amused, mystified, at Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s behaviour in June, 2023. NBC News reported: “Reddit CEO slams protest leaders, saying he’ll change rules that favor ‘landed gentry’: Steve Huffman, the Reddit CEO, told NBC News in an interview that a user protest on the site this week is led by a minority of moderators and doesn’t have wide support.” Reddit has a system that creates a system by which moderators, creators, and lurkers learn about their preferences, share knowledge, and share knowledge about sharing knowledge. It’s delicate. It’s reddit’s core asset. Which is why I’ve been mystified by Huffman’s behaviour. Let’s zoom out and look at Moderation and the[…]

Paul Graham wrote on May 9:  “Observation suggests that people are switching to using ChatGPT to write things for them with almost indecent haste. Most people hate to write as much as they hate math. Way more than admit it. Within a year the median piece of writing could be by AI. … I warn you now, this is going to have unfortunate consequences, just as switching to living in suburbia and driving everywhere did. When you lose the ability to write, you also lose some of your ability to think. I don’t have the slightest hope of averting this switch. I often tell startups it’s safe to bet on laziness, and this is one of the biggest bets on[…]

Assume that not all Need-Solution Pairs [1] have been discovered and that the diffusion of new solutions is Bassian [2]. What is going on with Web3? By Web3, I mean the set of technologies that includes decentralized applications (dApps), distributed ledger, protocols, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and related cryptographic technologies. It’s a superset that doesn’t just include decentralized finance (DeFi) and regenerative finance (ReFi), decentralized science (DeSci), memecoins, shitcoins, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and oracles, but all the things rooted on Peer to Peer, decentralized technology and the general concept of trustlessness. Web3 suffers from the same accessibility problems that the World Wide Web suffered from in early 1990s. It was brutal to dial up and log[…]

Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPTs) have captured the public’s imagination. There’s a lot of fear. The relevance of that fear, as always, depends on who you are. The technology first caused a surge of panic in December 2022 among some communications professionals. They fear a surge of supply, a massive increase in synthetic media, along with all of the misinformation that goes along with it. Because attention is inelastic, the price for content will collapse, and it’ll take their wages down with it. They aren’t the only ones likely to be affected [1]. It’s kind of curious that you aren’t reading too much publicly from developers and their experiences with the technology. GPT’s are a tool. A good GPT is capable[…]

Ultimately, how you choose to lead your startup in the post-2022 Tight Money Era depends on what lessons you’re taking away from the 2018-2022 Loose Money Era, and where you’re at on your own leadership journey. In this post, I’ll describe where my stance is at the end of 2022 with respect to a systemized study of new venturing knowledge. How We Got Here: The Loose Money Era Money was cheap between 2018 and 2022 [1]. Stupidly cheap. You know how I know money was cheap? Check the links: Intensely. Stupidly. Insanely. Idiotic. Terribly. Sweatily. Moronicly. Cheap. Cheap money enables radical conservation of thought. (I’m picking on scooters because it’s physically obvious, but there’s plenty of incredibly silly things going[…]

You only have so much attention. When you consume media, roughly 27% to 30% of your attention can be directly monetized, and there’s perhaps a tolerance for another 15% that can be wrung out with product placement. As a result, Time Spent is an attractive metric for those who create and monetize attention. For example, if you can attract 1,000,000 hours of attention, then you can monetize 300,000 to 450,000 hours of it. In theory, the amount you can charge for your attention depends on the value advertisers place on the audiences’ attention. And that depends on who they think you are, how susceptible you are, how much you spend in the relevant category, how causal the purchase decision is[…]