The Crosshairs of Software & Having Hard Conversations

Humans run in loops just like most software.

You need to go to the bathroom every couple of hours just like software parses a database every couple of hours.

Most of our work runs in loops too. Putting together parts on an assembly line, making coffees, inputting numbers into a computer system, driving people/goods from A to B, checking people out at the register, etc.

There are certain lines of code that are only executed once, just like a company is only founded once or a book is only written once. This we call a Rube Goldberg moment.

An illustration from cartoonist Rube Goldberg — a very complicated way to do a simple thing like use a napkin

An illustration from cartoonist Rube Goldberg — a very complicated way to do a simple thing like use a napkin

Most of our work lies in the crosshairs of software and most of the work that will take a very long time for software to automate lies in the Rube Goldberg moments.

The problem is most people rely on repetitive work to provide for their families — they don’t really see themselves as opportunists to found companies or innovate.

Capitalism produced a child called technology. Technology is causing significant upheavals in economics and human lifestyle. A majority of people are still being trained for repetitive work in the crosshairs of software and re-training people to create Rube Goldberg moments is quite difficult.

It’s inevitable that we are approaching the most influential economic moment of the 21st century where many people with repetitive work will face automation. It’s quite scary to think about people not being taken care of after losing their work to software and robots. This is why 9, 10, and 11 figure individuals in Silicon Valley closest to automation software are the ones propelling ideas like universal basic income.

We may need a future that increases capitalistic rewards and provides more socialism to keep families stable post-automation. A good question to ask for now is, “Why are there so few technical people in government leadership roles?” I think once more technical people take these roles, we’ll better address these problems facing our world.

Another good question to ask is, “Why is every topic so polarized?” Nuanced positions have more depth. For example, maybe I feel that we shouldn’t spend our money deporting illegal immigrants and that we should allow refugees into our country as long as they pass a comprehensive background check and that H-1B visas need reform because they are tethering immigrants to employers. It’s not just in favor or against immigration.

The most interesting conversations are usually the most nuanced and it’s crucial to develop equanimity and practice being non-biased. We’ve become so sensitive to getting offended that Google fired James Damore for trying to start a conversation about diversity. He argued that gender disparity can be partially explained by biological differences between women and men expressing things like men take dangerous jobs, accounting for 93% of work-related deaths. He was fired and shamed for harmful gender stereotypes. Imagine a thought-provoking fireside chat discussing this topic. It would be super interesting to learn from biologists, psychologists, etc.

Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.

Why does Terry Crews feel pissed off right now? Because he’s a black man who got groped by a white man Hollywood executive who isn’t facing any repercussions compared to when a man violates a woman. If you live in the Bay Area and you can’t have a conversation about Trump possessing good characteristics, then you have a problem. Same thing goes for people who live in rural parts of the US — if you can’t have a conversation about Sanders or Clinton possessing good characteristics, then you have a problem. The first step to addressing the problem is to admit you have a problem and go through the steps of practicing having hard conversations with people who think differently than you to try and learn from them.

Have you ever seen the movie Kung Fu Panda? It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever watched. It teaches about grit, eccentric learning styles, self-confidence, among many other things. There are so many kids today that are diagnosed with ADHD or Dyslexia or Autism and we categorize them as having disorders instead of fostering their unique learning styles — they could have the next big creations if we just better understood how to help them.

At the end of the day one of the most important things I can leave you with is the idea of semi-reliable communal sense making. If we can work together as a civilization to have thought-provoking discourse about the sustainable and harmonious trajectory of our species, it will drastically improve our lives. Lastly the idea of memetics over genetics — focus on developing great ideas and sharing them with as many people in the world as possible.

I want to personally thank mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein for stirring up much of this thought-provoking conversation within me and being a leading figure in the industry for catalyzing the important conversations so few are having.