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Evolution and AI

11 Feb

I just finished reading Ishmael, one of the more thought-provoking books I’ve read in months. At one point in the book, during their discussions about evolution and man’s “creation myth”, Ishmael tells the main character a story:

This story (Ishmael said) takes place half a billion years ago—an inconceivably long time ago, when this planet would be all but unrecognizable to you. Nothing at all stirred on the land, except the wind and the dust. Not a single blade of grass waved in the wind, not a single cricket chirped, not a single bird soared in the sky. All these things were tens of millions of years in the future. Even the seas were eerily still and silent, for the vertebrates too were tens of millions of years away in the future.

But of course there was an anthropologist on hand. What sort of world would it be without an anthropologist? He was, however, a very depressed and disillusioned anthropologist, for he’d been everywhere on the planet looking for someone to interview, and every tape in his knapsack was as blank as the sky. But one day as he was moping along beside the ocean he saw what seemed to be a living creature in the shallows off shore. It was nothing to brag about, just a sort of squishy blob, but it was the only prospect he’d seen in all his journeys, so he waded out to where it was bobbing in the waves.

He greeted the creature politely and was greeted in kind, and soon the two of them were good friends. The anthropologist explained as well as he could that he was a student of life-styles and customs, and begged his new friend for information of this sort, which was readily forthcoming. “And now,” he said at last, “I’d like to get on tape in your own words some of the stories you tell among yourselves.”

“Stories?” the other asked.

“You know, like your creation myth, if you have one.”

“What is a creation myth?” the creature asked.

“Oh, you know,” the anthropologist replied, “the fanciful tale you tell your children about the origins of the world.”

Well, at this, the creature drew itself up indignantly—at least as well as a squishy blob can do—and replied that his people had no such fanciful tale.

“You have no account of creation then?”

“Certainly we have an account of creation,” the other snapped. “But it is definitely not a myth.”

“Oh, certainly not,” the anthropologist said, remembering his training at last. “I’ll be terribly grateful if you share it with me.”

“Very well,” the creature said. “But I want you to understand that, like you, we are a strictly rational people, who accept nothing that is not based on observation, logic, and the scientific method.”

“Of course, of course,” the anthropologist agreed.

So at last the creature began its story. “The universe,” it said, “was born a long, long time ago, perhaps ten or fifteen billion years ago. Our own solar system—this star, this planet and all the others seem to have come into being some two or three billion years ago. For a long time, nothing whatever lived here. But then, after a billion years or so, life appeared.”

“Excuse me,” the anthropologist said. “You say that life appeared. Where did that happen, according to your myth—I mean, according to your scientific account.”

The creature seemed baffled by the question and turned a pale lavender. “Do you mean in what precise spot?”

“No. I mean, did this happen on the land or in the sea?”

“Land?” the other asked. “What is land?”

“Oh, you know,” he said, waving toward the shore, “the expanse of dirt and rocks that begins over there.”

The creature turned a deeper shade of lavender and said, “I can’t imagine what you’re gibbering about. The dirt and rocks over there are simply the lip of the vast bowl that holds the sea.”

“Oh yes,” the anthropologist said, “I see what you mean. Quite. Go on.”

“Very well,” the other said. “For many millions of centuries the life of the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But little by little, more complex forms appeared: single-celled creatures, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on.

“But finally,” the creature said, turning quite pink with pride as he came to the climax of his story, “but finally jellyfish appeared!”

The story parallels our culture’s “creation myth” – our story of how creation and evolution inevitably lead to modern humans. This creation myth assumes humanity is evolution’s final output; the pinnacle of a process that’s been occurring for tens of billions of years.

I think this view changes within the next 30 years.

From an evolution standpoint, our greatest achievement may be the creation of super-intelligent AI. A billion years from now, what will be more important – the development and reign of mankind (for 11,000 years of civilization), or the subsequent rise and development of a super-intelligent AI?

No technology has as much potential to change the human condition as artificial intelligence. AI is improving at an astounding rate. You have computer programs driving cars more safely than humans. You have programs that can solve CAPTCHAs, do a better job diagnosing medical conditions than trained physicians, build realistic virtual realities, fly planes autonomously (or play ping pong), and trade the stock market. What’s more, the processing power and capacity for these programs to learn is increasing every day.

Given how rapidly AI is improving, and how important it’s becoming to our economy and way of life, it’s inevitable that it continues to take a larger role in society. Almost as inevitable is the fact that we will develop a superintelligent AI that is actually smarter than human intelligence. One that can help solve some of the many complex problems our economy, governments and businesses face.

My guess is that this shift happens gradually. Smart businessmen buy a program that determines the best strategic move for a given business. Next, computer scientists at a prestigious university release software that predicts (with stunning accuracy) the effects of economic and political policies on the nation. As these programs are able to model the impact of certain policies and suggest optimal courses of action, more and more policy decisions are placed in the hands of these superintelligent programs.

AI will change a lot, but it’s biggest impact may be on the way humanity perceives itself. What will it mean when humanity is no longer the one charting our destination as a species, but instead putting decisions in the hands of superintelligent AI? What’s more, once we reach this state there is no rational reason to take back control from AI – why would you place immense decisions about economic policy in the hands of a human when a much better decision can be made by AI?

Right now, humanity is the jellyfish. Our culture believes that we’re the end result of creation and evolution – everything up to this point was guided towards the creation of our species. Within the next century we’ll be in a different position. Ultimately, I think modern humanity will be looked at the same way we now look at Homo Erectus - as an important evolutionary step in the creation of the real pinnacle of evolution: superintelligent AI.

Mom, Welcome to San Francisco

15 Nov

“Thanks for visiting mom and dad!”

My parents had traveled all the way from Philadelphia to visit me in San Francisco. I was excited. They don’t travel often, so this was my chance to show them how cool the city was.

They’re also pretty conservative, so my role for the weekend would be part tour guide and part Fox News. I’d have to turn the San Francisco experience into a conservative one they wouldn’t hate.

On the first day of their trip we went to grab subs from Deli Board, one of my favorite spots in the city. This place is my kryptonite: if I ever for some reason lose all ambition and drive in my life, at least I can be somewhat happy getting fat and slamming Deli Board on the daily.

Deli Board’s only blemish is that it’s on 6th and Folsom. If you know San Francisco, you know that’s the one area in Soma where the Tenderloin broke through Market Street’s defensive line and is doing a crazy dance in the endzone. It was a risk taking my parents there, but one I was willing to chance to get to my urban lunch mecca.

**

For the most part, I love living in San Francisco. There are loads of smart people, lots of cool happenings in tech, and the weather is awesome. Seriously, those that complain should try living somewhere where you see the sun once a month during winter. Or a place where getting caught in a rainstorm means you actually get wet, not just a light film of mist on your shirt.

I’ve also gotten really lucky with my living situation and have managed to make friends quickly. All in all, I’m enjoying my time here. There are tons of cool street fairs, free concerts, and even a summer Chipotle festival. That sealed the deal for me.

Like any city, there are downsides. It’s expensive, and is the only place in the country where rent prices are partially determined by Facebook’s stock price: I actually met someone who’s rent went up several hundred dollars within weeks of Facebook’s IPO.

Plus, it has “character.” Lots of it. As my parents were about to find out.

**

Being a beautiful San Francisco day, I decided it’d be nice if we enjoyed our Deli Board outside in the park by the sub shop. First mistake.

We sit down to partake in the sub-of-the-gods. After I was halfway through, some homeless men sat down on a bench near us. My parents looked disturbed.

“Yeah, San Francisco has a bit of a homeless problem. It’s a problem in that the city basically turned out their mental institutions in the 80s and there are some drug addicts out here. It can be depressing.”

Then they started smoking crack.

For a second, I hoped this was a generational thing. My parents wouldn’t know what “crack” was, or what it looked like. It could be a health substance they were ingesting.

Nope.

They knew. They’re not idiots, just really uncomfortable watching drug addiction and homelessness hold hands on a park bench. There are few things that are more of a departure from normal suburban life than sitting next to two homeless men as they take turns roasting a crack rock.

Fine. Weird, but they can handle themselves. We’ll just finish our Deli Board and I’ll take them to Twin Peaks like we planned.

Ignoring the crackheads, we continued to eat lunch. In my peripherals I spotted another man approaching us – a man I could only hope was going to let us eat in peace. When I turned to look at him, my hopes were crushed. There’s no way my parents are coming back once they realize he’s walking right towards us. Not because he was dirty, or smelly, or smoking crack.

They weren’t coming back because he was holding a sword.

This was a new one, even for me. Apparently, Man With A Sword had gotten his bike stolen in the park just seconds before walking over, sword brandished, and asking if we’d seen anyone riding a white bike. Or the police.

“NoIhaventsorrybuddy” I spit at the person who’d just beheaded the last chance that my parents would ever visit me again. “We’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes and haven’t seen anything.”

He walked off. I quickly requested a cab and took them to Twin Peaks. $30 and one beautiful view later, I was in the clear.

They haven’t visited since.

Making a Dent

26 May

Steve Jobs is one of the most influential individuals of the last few decades. The companies he founded and the products he created made Apple the most valuable company in the world. He has certainly made a dent in the universe, and will be remembered for a long time.

Jony Ive was one of the few people Steve was never intentionally vindictive with“. That’s a quote from Jobs’ wife (from the Steve Jobs bio, which is a highly engaging read). Intentionally vindictive. Is that how I would want my wife to remember me? For all he accomplished, one of the major things I’m taking away from the book is that he was worshipped by those not close to him (Apple fanboys everywhere), and difficult to many who were (said best here). From what I can tell, being more successful than Steve Jobs is nearly impossible. Being a better person, however, seems very doable.

Ultimately, he built two fantastic companies (Apple and Pixar). But he did so at the cost of his health, many of his personal relationships, and the respect of many he worked with. Reading through the book has really made me start thinking about the kind of dent I want to make. Do I want to focus on friends and family, or work and learning? What are the 3-4 things in my life I want to focus on and improve as much as I can? I’m not sure that I have the answer just yet, but reading about Jobs certainly has gotten me thinking.

Do vs Learn…

17 May

Is something I’ve been struggling with for the last few months. It’s a tough balance to hit, and involves constant second-guessing. I see so many opportunities where I feel like I could do something, and so many other opportunities where I could work with people far smarter than myself. The hardest decisions I’ve had so far are ones where the outcome would be a good one, no matter the choice. How do you make a decision in those cases?

One of the things I remember from Thinking Fast and Slow is that people will go to great lengths to avoid shutting the door on their options, even if it hurts them. I’m starting to appreciate that. No matter what choice I make, I will be shutting the door on other options that I have. Even not making a decision and delaying is itself a choice.

What’s been helpful is again going back to my principles, realizing that my decision doesn’t really matter. I don’t know that I could make a choice right now that in the long run couldn’t be reversed. Over the next year I’ll learn a lot, be closer to figuring out what I like doing, and have an understanding of what makes me happy in terms of work. All of this will come about regardless of what decisions I make now. And that’s a calming thought.

Personal Spectrums

16 Apr

This has been an amazing week. I met over 50 other student entrepreneurs at Ebootcamp, spent a week in California, got a job offer, and spoke one on one with two billionaires. I’ve been very lucky to with these things, as these are not exactly the typical experiences of a 22 year old senior. And it all happened in one awesome week.

I want to focus on my interactions with the two billionaires and a few lessons I drew from that. The first thing I noticed from interacting with each of them (Peter Thiel and Vinod Khosla) was that I am taller than both of them. The second thing I noticed is just how normal they were. After talking with each of them, it was clear that they were exceptionally smart but still relatively normal people.

One thing that’s interesting about interacting with these people is that you can relate to them on a spectrum you (or I, at least) never thought possible. As I’ve interacted with more and more slightly famous people over the past two years, I’ve come to the realization that every one of the famous people you look up to or are impressed with are completely normal people. My hypothesis for this “surprise” revelation (which really shouldn’t be a surprise if you think about it) is that meeting someone in person involves a collision of two different personal spectrums of experience.

For example, Peter Thiel is literally 200,000 times wealthier than I am. He has accomplished far more than I am likely to accomplish in my career, and many regard him as a visionary.  Before this week, I only related to him in an abstract sense through reading his essays and learning about his various companies, investments and projects. In a career and wealth sense, Thiel is so far beyond my experience and spectrum of experience that it makes him hard to relate to. You can’t imagine having that kind of wealth or influence until you have it. If my idea of making a lot of money (right now) would be making $50k a year, we operate on vastly different planes of experience.

Meeting someone in person removes this abstract separation. Even though in a career and wealth sense I am miles removed from Theil’s status, as a person we are more similar than we are different. A good analogy I recall from Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan is that of wealth and height. If you were to average the heights of everyone in the world, it would follow a normal distribution and would result in a few outliers who were 7-8 feet tall. That would be unusual, and remarkable, but still within the realm of your experience. You can mentally understand how being 2-3 feet taller would affect your life and relate to it on some level. Tall people create a sense of surprise, but not one of awe or long-term admiration.

This is completely different with wealth. Mentally, it is just not possible for us to process the fact that someone like Peter Thiel has as much personal wealth as several countries, or the bottom 5% of the US population – over 5 million people. This type of wealth and career success is so far removed from my (and others) experience with the world that it is difficult to realistically conceive of. Thus, there’s this feeling of awe and extreme respect that makes the famous seem so different from us, as if we couldn’t imagine being in their shoes. Because, literally, we couldn’t.

Meeting these people in person helps you mitigate this effect – you are, in a sense, humanizing them. When you meet someone in person, no matter their station in life they can only be so different than you. They still experience human emotions, have human physical needs and talk in a common language. You come to realize that you share far more with them than not: something that’s difficult to realize and conceptualize about someone that you only read about. Relating to them on a human spectrum, rather than artificially comparing yourself to them on a wealth/career spectrum, makes a world of difference. It’s something I’ve started to think about as I slowly come in contact with more individuals like this.

Like I referenced in an earlier post, there’s also a staircase of emotions and expectations that go along with meeting some of these people.  I was thinking yesterday about the first time I met Justin Goldman, a fantastic mentor who really got me started and helped me figure out to do with all this startup stuff. Now Justin is a great guy and has had some moderate successes, but he’s not a household name (nothing wrong with that). Yet before our first meeting (as a college sophomore) I remember being extremely nervous. I drove into the city an hour early, paid extra money to park in a garage rather than look for a spot and possibly be late for our lunch meeting, overdressed, and was generally just nervous and unsure of myself. Yet just 1.5 years later, meeting with far “bigger” names doesn’t inspire the same reaction. Since that first meeting, I’ve had countless conversations, read hundreds of books and blog posts, and generally become a much more experienced individual. All that translates to an increased level of confidence and a realization that I’m not so different from the most famous individuals out there – at least that’s how I’ve come to think of it.

This is a really long-winded way of getting to the point I really want to make: people are people. Whether or not someone is absurdly wealthy, famous, intelligent or not you can always relate to them on some level. Knowing this, and receiving the confidence bump that comes with this realization, is something worth working towards. It helps put things in perspective. After I met with Vinod, a few of my friends were saying how cool it was that I got his card. Realizing he’s another human, just one with a few more successes under his belt, helps keep my perspective in check. Yea, he’s wealthy and intelligent. But on another level, it was just one conversation among two people. And that’s something I never would have understood a year ago.

April Thoughts

4 Apr

* shorter post due to a crazy week *

“Education isn’t a problem until it serves as a buffer from the real world and a refuge from the risk of failure”         – Seth Godin

This is my favorite quote from Seth’s Stop Stealing Dreams manifesto that I went through a few weeks ago. It really resonated with me because I find it so true. In a month I’ll be graduating, and I can see how many fellow graduates are treating education as a fill-in next step because they don’t know what to do.

Higher education is increasingly serving as a buffer from the real world. This buffer is a privilege that has become expected and makes the real world seem scary. For most of human history, there was no easy path to a comfortable life. Only within the past 50-100 years has the idea of college = a comfortable life come to life. Before that, education occurred on the job, in the real world. The idea that you could be more successful by disappearing from the real world and learning only from books was absurd.

I know that I’ve learned more from reading and applying what I read than I have from any class I’ve taken in school. Writing also helps with the learning process, and helps filter what I learned through the lens of my experience. For example, I’m working through Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People right now, and doing so very slowly. I’m trying to apply one principle from the book every day for a week and seeing how things go for me. Someone, I forget who, had a fantastic quote about how reading more is the easiest way to be smarter- you essentially are spending a few hours to learn everything about a subject from someone who has studied the issue extensively for at least a year.

 

Links I found interesting this week:

Article about Chicago’s new mayor. I especially liked how he is having corporations shape the curriculum of local community colleges, and give those graduates preference when they hire. It’s similar to what I wrote about here where corporations are beginning to assume the responsibility of educating future employees due to institutional failure.

Post from Chris Dixon about how the next big thing will look like a toy. He draws this idea from the Innovator’s Dilemma, a book I just finished this week. Things I see looking like toys: photovoltaic cells, electric cars, drones, and the entire Maker movement. I think all of these things will grow to become far more prevalent than they are now.

Patio11‘s comment really resonated with me – “Indeed, part of me thinks that applications (in general) are a backup filtering mechanism for people who haven’t figured out a more effective way to get what they want yet.”

Writing

7 Mar

I’ve been writing a lot more lately and am starting to enjoy the process just a little bit. The more I do it, the better I feel about what I actually write. It helps too that I’m starting to get a little bit of feedback from friends and others I talk with, though I have no goal of building a big community or ever blogging for a living. Most of all, I think the act of writing and publishing is helpful to clarify and refine my thinking. And I get the benefits of slowly but surely improving as a writer.

I can’t imagine writing for a large, demanding audience. The more I think about it, the more I see a disconnect between what I thought I wanted and what I would actually be happy with. When I started a blog (not this one, but one on another domain 2 years ago), I had visions of writing for thousands of people and becoming a thought-leader in the collegiate education space. Now, after actually writing and not just dreaming, I realize that type of audience brings wtih it a great deal of pressure. There are things that I would struggle to write about with a large audience that I’m willing to discuss here. Even outside of writing, I have come to realize this

So many times I’ve thought about how amazing it would be to sell a company for millions of dollars, or be recognized as a thought leader in an industry. While making my first hire this week, she made a comment that I was obviously involved in startups for the money. I don’t know (since I don’t have money!), but I don’t think money is a strong motivator right now. It would be nice, but with it comes pressure. Making millions at this age only means my next thing has to be bigger – where does it stop? If I didn’t succeed with whatever I did next, I would be a failure. Thanks to philosophy and some really smart, humble people who are willing to work with me, I can’t see the goal of being a milliionaire mattering very much anymore.

As I’m learning and developing, the one thing I’m realizing is that change is a constant, and is happening faster now than ever before. Companies are just now switching from expensive hosted software to cloud-based solutions – how much faster will they make the switch between cloud software providers in the future? How does this affect corporate sales teams? What about accountants and community pharmacists standing behind the counters counting pills? How do they fit in as things rapidly change? As the world changes more rapidly, the most attractive solution I’ve encountered is to hone your thinking and your network. Change is inevitable, but clear long-term thinking is always in demand. I spoke with someone who worked at Amazon a few years ago, and he mentioned how Bezos was negotiating with publishers for full text rights of their books in order to access Amazon’s print on demand services. The publishers gave in easily – after all, there were no options outside of physical printing. Bezos negotiated for the long term, and in these contracts managed to gain the rights to the content even after Amazon began offering digital content. This was a large part of the reason why Amazon was able to launch the Kindle with such a large library of titles – Bezos played a long term game the publishing comapnies weren’t prepared for.

I’m starting to shift my writing style after reading Paul Graham’s post on writing. I find the less I try to prove a point in my writing the more I can write, learn and explore. And in this process, hopefully become a better thinker, writer, and individual.

Graduation

26 Oct

A man who follows someone else not only does not find anything, he is not even looking. ‘But surely you are going to walk in your predecessors footsteps?’ Yes indeed, I shall use the old road, but if I find a shorter and easier one I shall open it up. The men who pioneered the old routes are leaders, not our masters. Truth lies open to everyone.   – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

This quote has been on my mind lately. I’m at a point where I have several interesting choices for my next move, and am working to figure things out. I’m going to try and choose my own path and find what makes me happiest. Amazing how some of the best advice can come from someone who lived over 1600 years ago.

Power Structures

29 Aug

One of the things I’ve been interested in lately is the position of power structures in society. Debt is one such power structure that looks different when you examine it. Rather than something that enables the many to buy things they couldn’t otherwise afford, it can be used as a tool from which the rich profit. It limits the abilities and options of those who are in debt, as they have less freedom in their choices. Those who go to medical school have very little choice but to become a doctor once they graduate, even if they hate the job. The massive amounts of debt they take on ensure that they will be working as a doctor until they are at least 40 before they once again have choices in what to do with their careers. The same situation plays out in corporations everywhere. Individuals cannot leave their jobs, as they have house payments to make, and credit card debt to pay down.

It is even worse for those who fall on hard times and are hit with enormous repayment rates and few hopes for recovery or financial solvency.  People have become reliant on the current financial system of banks, credit, loans and debt, which keeps the current financial power structure (with Wall Street at the top) in place. However, we are currently seeing a few ways in which that structure is being subverted. Using the increasingly connected internet, some individuals are able to bypass large current financial structures and create an entirely new system of financial transactions (Bitcoin, Lending Club, etc.).

Christianity is one of the greatest examples of subverting current power structures.  In the early days of the Roman Empire, brutality and power were revered as societally admirable qualities. Power was the measuring stick for the empire. Christianity gained early influence as a slave religion – it provided hope to the masses, and a way for them to increase their self-esteem. Rather than conform to society’s notions of power and money being the ultimate goal, they flipped those ideals around. Now, the meek, the poor and humble could think of themselves in an entirely new light. Rather than lower-class Romans, they became exemplary Christians. They may be slaves, but Christianity allowed them to consider themselves morally superior to the many they couldn’t hope to reach in status. Christianity was the way out of their lower-class status – a new power structure that allowed them to redefine who they were. Perhaps this has something to do with Christianity being the strongest in poorest countries – they are the ones who need a new measuring stick the most.

There is currently a movement going on that works to subvert America’s consumer culture where wealth acts as a signaler. The minimalist movement is extremely popular among bloggers (especially lifestyle bloggers) who tout it as a way to achieve clarity, simplicity and happiness. Instead of being measured in terms of displayable wealth – a game which much of the population loses – the minimalist movement has gained steam as a way to step out side of the game entirely. Rather than measure wealth in terms of the size of one’s house, 401k or flashiest car, these minimalists compare Twitter followers, travel experiences, or who owns the least number of possessions to compare wealth and status. Rather than play a consumerist game they would surely lose, why not compete on who owns the least amount of things, or who drove around the country in an RV?

 

This subversion of accepted societal standards and power structures is evident in today’s society at large. You can see it in class divides. Artists, startup founders, and students all live a sparse existence. They spend very little on nice things, and instead choose to devote time and money honing a craft or gaining knowledge. They live a frugal existence. The poor in this country, on the other hand, rather than live frugally they live cheaply. They spend money trying to imitate the rich in society, rather than stepping outside the game all together. The rich drive nice cars – the poor drive crappy cars that they raise the wheels on or install mufflers on. They carry fake leather purses or counterfeit purses – the rich carry the real thing, while the student carries a backpack. The frugal step outside of the game and create their own power structures where they are not directly competing against those who they can’t hope to approach in status.

 

This will happen in our financial systems. As more and more people start losing houses they shouldn’t have been able to buy, and fall further into student loan and credit card debt, there will be change. With the new peer-to-peer technology that the internet makes possible, I think there will be more and more people who step outside of the financial networks all together and start creating their own power structures and financial networks that don’t profit off of their ignorance and benefit only the few. Bitcoin is an example of this, and Square is another step in the right direction. As the markets crash, more and more people will be looking for other ways to invest their money, in a game they can win. This may look a lot like Lending Club, or investing in startups or other local ecosystems. People could become the banks, and have financial power structures on a more local level. But rest assured, change is coming. More and more people will start to subvert the current power structures. You can see it already, as more people pull their money from the markets and fewer are choosing to put their trust in large investment banks. New concepts of trust will be defined. Rather than having a bank backing a loan, it is quite possible you could see many individuals collectively backing a loan for someone they can see has a strong online presence and can be held accountable.

This low point in our economy will lead to large-scale restructuring, and I believe that there will be many forced changes to the financial structure. These changes will be driven by people, not politicians, and many will end up playing an entirely new game.

 

 

 

Honesty

1 Aug

This post, and tens of others, have been writing themselves inside my head over the past few months since I last posted. I have thought about writing time and time again, but each time I’ve stopped. I have no readers, no post has ever received more than 100 visitors, and I have nothing to lose by writing – yet for some reason I find there is nothing harder in the world than sitting down and writing in a public form. I can’t imagine how someone like Seth Godin does it, knowing hundreds of thousands of people will read every single word he writes.

At the same time, this is the type of stuff that takes practice. This stuff is hard, which is probably why there aren’t enough honest bloggers out there. The hard stuff is the stuff worth doing. Just because it is hard, most people will not do it. Eveyr time I sit down I want to write something epic. And every time  I think that whatever I have to say has already been written by people who are much better thinkers and writers than I could ever hope to be. All I can think of when I sit down to write is that I’m not smart enough, not interesting enough, to have a public opinion on anything.

 

Reading Ryan Holiday and others, I think the only way you can bear to put something into the public domain is to have an unshakeable confidence in yourself. I definitely don’t have this, but I’m working on it – and I want this blog to help form that confidence. I want to become used to putting strong opinions out there, until it no longer frightens me to say something publicly. I want to be wrong, and and have people tell me so, because that’s the only way I know that I’m doing something worth talking about.  Being “Remarkable” as Seth Godin puts it, requires doing something worth talking about. I’m not there, but I want to be. Everything good that has come in my life has come about by putting myself out there and being willing to take criticism and rejection.

 

Every single person who I admire professionally writes in some way. Every single one. 

 

Why do I want to write? It’s a way for me to push myself. I am getting too comfortable. I work hard, but don’t often reach outside of my comfort zone. Too many times in this past month I have sat down to write and instead read Hacker News for the 100th time, or checked each of my separate email inboxes 3x each. There are enough distractions to last a lifetime, but that’s why this stuff is hard. And I’m determined to do the hard work and ship.