Technology companies that aren’t

As of today, I’ve officially lived on the internet company peninsula for 11 months. And I just had a realization, about one thing I’ve learned in that time that very few people outside the area understand: a lot of what people call “technology” companies barely make any new technology. Concretely, if you went back in time to [Read More...]

Happy Indigenous People’s Day!


Bryan Caplan, yesterday: I spent a lot of time conversing with conservative intellectuals this week.  What surprised me most was their moral relativism.  Sure, they spent a lot of time griping about left-wing relativism: The awful liberals refuse to admit the West is morally superior to Islamic and other non-Western cultures – or the United States [Read More...]

The stock market isn’t “fair”—and never will be

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about finance lately. In some cases, I’ve become convinced that the worst of what people say about finance is basically true. I think the 2008 financial crisis really was caused by outright fraud. But some of the complaints people make against Wall Street are deeply misguided. In [Read More...]

The 2014 Effective Altruism Summit—who stood out

I’ve promised friends in the EA community a write-up of my thoughts on the 2014 Effective Altruism summit, which occurred last month. Even though it was just two days, there was a lot of stuff going on. Speakers from many different non-profits had talked scheduled, sometimes concurrently, and there was also a large chunk of [Read More...]

Hackers and writers: why software is more “content” than (almost) anyone realizes

Awhile back on Hacker News there was a story about how most iPhone apps barely make any money. Apparently, some people were surprised by this. I wasn’t. As someone who’s made money writing software, and made money writing English prose, I thought, “of course most apps aren’t going to make much money—just like most books [Read More...]

Sam Harris is right, and Scott Atran is wrong, about the meaningfulness of religious beliefs

Saw an r/philosophy post attacking Sam Harris, among other things claiming that “Harris’s views on the links between religion and violence are almost entirely wrong, as scholars such as Atran have shown, but they are understandable.” I posted this comment reply: I poked my nose into what Scott Atran’s criticism of Sam Harris, and there’s [Read More...]

Be best

Google is famous for its motto, “Don’t be evil.” Paul Graham has an essay where he takes it a step further and says, “Don’t just not be evil. Be good.” Reading the essay through the lens of effective altruism, I think you might be able to take this even further, and have a company whose [Read More...]

Why you can’t visit a farm anymore

Robin Hanson is going to be in Berkeley tonight giving a talk. I thought I’d mark the occasion by talking about the one issue where I think Robin goes seriously wrong. (And yes, there is really basically only one issue. I don’t advertise this much, but I tend to find myself agreeing with Robin on [Read More...]

The Industrial Revolution is over; the machines won

Here’s an argument I hear a lot around Silicon Valley: “Used to be ‘technology’ was televisions and cars and moon rockets and the factories that produced them, but now ‘technology’ means just software. We seem to have given up on innovation outside of software. Have we exhausted all the easy innovations, the ‘low-hanging fruit’? Or [Read More...]