How to Be More Creative

Breakthroughs are the product of persistence, not magic. Excerpt – About 10 years ago, the management professors Brian Lucas and Loran Nordgren encountered a paradox. On the one hand, we recognize that other people are more likely to make creative breakthroughs when they persist. Thomas Edison—for many the personification of creative genius—famously experimented with hundreds of materials before inventing the light bulb. On the other hand, when we feel stuck on a problem, most of us fail to see how successful we’ll be if we just keep trying. We tend to believe that our creativity plummets over time—that if our … Read More

The Only Career Advice You’ll Ever Need

“When we are stuck on a hard problem, it usually isn’t because we can’t find the answer; it’s that we don’t even know the right question. Imagine that you are trying to figure out how fast food can make you healthier: You are overlooking the right first question—which is whether fast food can do this. That is precisely the problem with agonizing over finding the right job and career. “What am I supposed to do to find a career that makes me happy?” is not the right first question. The right first question is “Who am I?” Only after we answer that can we understand … Read More

Michael Milken Wants to Speed Up Cures

Excerpt – Driven by a family history of disease and his own experience with prostate cancer, [Michael] Milken, the onetime junk-bond wizard whose spectacular downfall on securities charges led to a 22-month prison term in the 1990s, has spent the last three decades trying to advance medical science so that people “can find cures to life-threatening diseases within their own lifetimes.” [..] [KFF] Is the U.S. too slow in reaching cures? [Milken] A train today in Europe or Asia can travel at 200 miles an hour, but the average train in the U.S. travels at the same speed as 100 years ago because you … Read More

I Ruined Two Birthday Parties and Learned the Limits of Psychology

“Psychologists sometimes act like we’re compiling a how-to book for life. Year by year, we scratch out the old wives’ tales, folk theories, and cognitive biases, and then replace them with evidence-based guidance for making better, happier decisions. We are not compiling a how-to book for life. Many of our studies fail to replicate, but even if every paper were 100 percent true, you could not staple them together into an instruction manual, for two reasons. First, people are just too diverse. Almost nothing we discover is going to be true for every single human. In my own research, for … Read More

The Brilliant Inventor Who Made Two of History’s Biggest Mistakes

“Two innovations — Ethyl and Freon, conjured by one man [Thomas Midgley Jr.] presiding over a single laboratory during a span of roughly 10 years. Combined, the two products generated billions of dollars in revenue for the companies that manufactured them and provided countless ordinary consumers with new technology that improved the quality of their lives. In the case of Freon, the gas enabled another technology (refrigeration) that offered meaningful improvements to consumers in the form of food safety. And yet each product, in the end, turned out to be dangerous on an almost unimaginable scale. The history of any major … Read More

Think of Everything You Hate About the Internet. Now Add A.I.

“In 2021, I interviewed Ted Chiang, one of the great living sci-fi writers. Something he said to me then keeps coming to mind now. “I tend to think that most fears about A.I. are best understood as fears about capitalism,” Chiang told me. “And I think that this is actually true of most fears of technology, too. Most of our fears or anxieties about technology are best understood as fears or anxiety about how capitalism will use technology against us. And technology and capitalism have been so closely intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish the two.” [..] We are talking so much … Read More

Opinion | A Skeptical Take on the A.I. Revolution

Ezra Klein of the New York Times interviewed Gary Marcus, emeritus professor of psychology and neural science at NYU. “[Klein] [..] one of your pieces where you say GPT-3, which is the system underneath ChatGPT, is the king of pastiche. What is pastiche, first, and what do you mean by that? [Marcus] It’s a kind of glorified cut and paste. Pastiche is putting together things kind of imitating a style. [..] There’s also a kind of template aspect to it. So it cuts and pastes things, but it can do substitutions, things that paraphrase. So you have A and B … Read More

Healthcare Workforce Shortages cannot be Resolved unless Self-Care is Taken Seriously

“Other industries, like travel, banking, entertainment, publishing, retail et al have built successful business models on the premise that their consumers—armed with needed information—engage directly in decisions and actions consonant with their self-interests. In so doing, fewer workers are required, replaced by technologies and online tools that are customized to their individual needs and preferences. In healthcare delivery circles, self-care is dismissed because diseases and treatments are deemed too complicated thus “consult your doctor” or “visit the ED” are the default. That’s the problem: the health system is staffed to the presumption that most consumers are incapable of acting rationally … Read More

We’re All Being Manipulated the Same Way

This piece was adapted from Ressa’s remarks at Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy, a conference hosted by The Atlantic and the University of Chicago, on April 6, 2022. Maria Ressa is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, the CEO of Rappler, and a recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. “really, this is like when 140,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same thing has happened in our information ecosystem, but it is silent and it is insidious. This is what I said in the Nobel lecture: An atom bomb has exploded in our information ecosystem. And … Read More

My first impressions of web3

“If we do want to change our relationship to technology, I think we’d have to do it intentionally. My basic thoughts are roughly: We should accept the premise that people will not run their own servers by designing systems that can distribute trust without having to distribute infrastructure. This means architecture that anticipates and accepts the inevitable outcome of relatively centralized client/server relationships, but uses cryptography (rather than infrastructure) to distribute trust. One of the surprising things to me about web3, despite being built on “crypto,” is how little cryptography seems to be involved! We should try to reduce the … Read More