Some Interesting Links

What I'm reading, thinking about and laughing at. Revolving around Technology, Economics, Engineering, Humor, Art, Seattle, Startups.


Business / Startup

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future. By Tim Urban for Wait But Why. Elon Musk founded a new company called Neuralink to build a “whole-brain interface.” Urban calls it a “wizard hat for the brain.” May 2017.

Amazon 2016 Letter to Shareholders. Bezos notes that companies need to make “make high-quality, high-velocity decisions”. April 12, 2017.

most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Cars and Second Order Consequences. By Ben Evans. How will electric cars affect tobacco consumption? How will self-driving cards affect city centers? Fewer parking lots and more green space? Lots of interesting ideas. March 29, 2017.

Pre-fab Irish Pubs. By Siobhán Brett for Eater. The story of a business that will sell you a shipping container with all the makings of an “authentic” Irish pub. March 7, 2017.

How I Built This. This podcast about founders is often excellent. I liked the recent episode Manoj Bhargava. He looks at redbull and says “If I’m tired, why am I also thirsty?” He starts 5-Hour Energy and becomes a billionaire.

Cloudflare Declares War on Patent Troll BlackBird Technologies. Instead of settling with the troll to avoid litigation, Cloudflare has set up a bounty to pay $20,000 to anyone who can invalidate any of Blackbird’s patents (not just the patents being used to sue Cloudflare).


What The Fuck Just Happened Today? Local nerd Matt Kiser chronicles Trump’s activities in this daily newsletter.

USA Facts. A data-driven portrait of the American Government. Funded by Steve Ballmer. It’s very well designed with a good sprinkling of sparklines.

Long Reads

Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever. By Tad Friend, New Yorker. April 3, 2017.

Last fall, Unity raised a hundred and sixteen million dollars from such investors as Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel, billionaires eager to stretch our lives, or at least their own, to a span that Thiel has pinpointed as “forever.”


A16Z AI Playbook

A visual introduction to machine learning. By Tony Chu and stephanie yee

Machine Learning Style Transfer. ML to turn a horse into a zebra, turn a photo into a Van Gogh, etc.

The Greatest Public Datasets for AI. By Luke de Oliveira. Not sure about “greatest” but certainly looks like a useful collection. February 11, 2017.

XKCD “hard task” from Sept 2014 is now essentially solved using AI. Took less than 5 years.

Minimum Viable Block Chain. Ilya Grigorik, 2014. An attempt to explain, from the ground up, why the particular blockchain pieces (digital signatures, proof-of-work, transaction blocks) are needed, and how they all come together to form the “minimum viable block chain” with all of its remarkable properties.


Overcast 3: Design walkthrough. Marco (Tumblr, Instapaper, etc.) discusses his design process for the latest edition of his podcast app, Overcast. Marco is a guy that tends to get design things right, so it’s nice to have this explainer. “More affordances, more curves, thicker fonts, less translucency, more tactility.” February 20, 2017.

How to Spot Visualization Lies. By Nathan Yau, FlowingData. Lies, Damn Lies, and Data Viz. February 9, 2017.

NASA launched a new image database. Images are probably (but not definitely) in the public domain. Images created by the government can’t be copyrighted. But the government can buy a copyrighted image and keep the copyright. April 12, 2017.


Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Epic 2,000 page fan fic about behavioral economics.


Seeing Theory. A visual introduction to probability and statistics. Brown University.

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