Hello there,

We are fast approaching Chinese New Year on Jan 22, so we are soon truly in the year of the rabbit.

I hope you get to eat some tasty moon cakes next week!

i. The Intelligence behind Artificial Intelligence

Along with the rest of the world, I have been fascinated lately by OpenAI, the company behind GPT-3, DALL-E, and most recently ChatGPT.

The company’s founder, Sam Altman, also ran Y Combinator, the startup accelerator that launched AirBnB, Dropbox, Reddit, and many more. And he offers a lot of wisdom in various places on the internet. Here are three tidbits that resonated with me:

Approach innovation by letting people chase their interests

Their research approach at OpenAI is to just let people work on whatever interest them as long as it moves Artificial General Intelligence forward. And then they look for whatever is most effective or working the best.

They set up robotic arms driven by AI, which could learn and improve through iteration. Ultimately they gave up on the experiment due to hardware failures. (Burned out circuits and motors - hardware is tough!)

Many of the earliest inventions came from research labs that did just this, such as Bell Labs. This sounds refreshing as compared to my experience in R&D team’s which tends to be project driven.

** See my book notes for more – The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner **

Don’t defer your dreams

Instead of saying I want to make $100 million in crypto so I can go start a rocket company, just start the rocket company! Otherwise you’re unlikely to succeed at either dream.

When you pitch your product or idea either to investors or other team members, your sincerity shines through. People with any bit of intelligence can clearly see if you’re faking it.

Take more risks, Ask more questions

Things in life are rarely as risky as they seem. Most people are too risk-averse, and so most advice is biased too much towards conservative paths.

Another thing Sam Altman says is that he knows lots of people smarter than him, but not many that are more curious than him. And that’s a unique advantage.

Parting advice – make sure you surround yourself with people that make you more ambitious and encourage you to be curious and ask questions.

Listen: Sam Altman on Choosing Projects, Creating Value, and Finding Purpose


ii. Deliberate Pattern Spotting as a Superpower

I finished the book Smartcuts last week, which offered an enormous collection of inspiring success stories about how we can invent our own ladder to reach higher levels.

I enjoyed the example that most US presidents don’t actually spend that many years in politics or Congress, and that Skrillex found success by spotting music trends before anyone else. (He started as the lead singer in an emo band?!)

One lesson that stood out came from a story of a less-experienced surfer using deliberate pattern spotting to catch better waves.

With focused effort, one woman beat out the local professional surfer by taking the time to find patterns in the waves the day before. This information gave her an edge over the other surfer who relied on intuition, and it’s often the case that an outsider can see more than an entrenched veteran.

Through deliberate analysis, the little guy can spot waves better than the big company that relies on experience and instinct. And a wave can take an amateur farther faster than an expert can swim.

iii. Top Brass Nuggets

One Thing from Me

We want to teach our one-year-old to swim, but it’s nearly impossible to get into a swim class. Since I worked as a lifeguard in high school and taught a handful of kid’s swim lessons when needed, I figured I could learn myself.

And then I started watching videos online and it’s intimidating!

It reminds me of a story about Frank Abagnale, the conman and fraud basis for the movie Catch Me If You Can. He taught an entire semester of advanced sociology to college students before getting caught.

When asked how he lectured on a topic with no previous knowledge he replied, “All I had to do was read one chapter ahead of the students.”


PS – this previously unreleased still from Avatar 2 shows some legit CGI

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