Random startup ideas

A bunch of startup ideas, go build them or something. May actually be bad ideas, these are all just quick thoughts. Automated notetaking: Take speech-to-text and recent advances in automated summarization, perhaps peppered with some hand-coded rules around entity recognition and you have an app that automatically takes notes for you. Good: People seem to like taking notes Bad: Potentially anyone could replicate the core tech? Also maybe it's not enough for this to be 90% good but 99% for adoption. Howeve…

Systematising breakthroughs

Suppose you want to solve a problem. When problem-solving one can be in one of two states: Stuck or exploring paths forward. A path forward is a potential solution that might work but we are not sure so we need to do extra work to assess if that's the right way. In science this may be akin to "regular science" or 1 to N science or something like that. This post is about the process of going from being stuck to having a path forward. This would be breakthrough science or 0 to 1 science. Of course i…

Does every animal sleep?

The puzzle of sleep Sleep may seem paradoxical: Being inactive for a third of the day, in humans, means reduced chances to acquire resources or mate; plus it increases the odds of being preyed on, especially in our evolutionary past. Moreover, we also know that in our own case sleep is hard to avoid: Being awake for too long makes us tired and we progressively lose cognitive faculties, plus the more we stay awake the stronger there is of a drive to fall asleep, to the point it overrides the will not to. Eve…

Links (35)

SSC's posts on Amish healthcare (and the problems of employer-provided insurance) Related, Vinad Prasad on cancer and medical ethics. Various interesting things: most cancer drugs don't pass a cost-benefit analysis, lots of cancer drugs get through the FDA with shoddy trials (And probably don't work at all), and this is all driven by the fact that Medicare will pay whatever the drug maker asks for (With social pressure being the only limit!), and likewise insurance companies will insulate people from the co…

On building

It's time to build, writes Marc Andreessen. The piece is framed in the context of the Covid pandemic. The first part of the essay is about preparation for pandemics, Part of the problem is clearly foresight, a failure of imagination. But the other part of the problem is what we didn’t do in advance, and what we’re failing to do now. And that is a failure of action, and specifically our widespread inability to build. There is one more that can be added, besides failing to plan or build: failing to maintain…

Progress in semiconductors, or Moore's law is not dead yet

Moore's law is relentless - Jim Keller In its original formulation, Moore's law1 was about cramming more transistors in ever decreasing surfaces; by that metric Moore's law continues unabated. However that's not the most interesting thing. As much of a feat of engineering it is, most people are interested in the end-product of the semiconductor world: performance. Before moving onto that, here are some charts that show progress in the original Moore's law sense (ht Sam Zeloof for the data). Of note here…