Great hackers tend to clump together (PG, 2004)

Money is power. It dictates what type of research and work gets funded, and who gets to do it.

It’s important to be aware of the incentive structures in place wherever you work (e.g. academia, industry): 80k hours of work in your life, it matters a lot where that goes (voting with labour).

One of the reasons we’re not seeing another Xerox Parc/Bell Labs, it feels like there is too much perception in globalized communities. Intimacy is destroyed when the balance of internal/external balance skews too far towards external (Fishbowl effect). Without intimacy, there is no trust. Without trust, there is no exploration

As of now, there are no good spaces to work on long-term (think 10+ years in the future) research to enable the visions of the future. Also, is long-term innovation just infrastructure?

Limitations of private companies and startups

  • You spend less than what you make (for sake of profit)
  • Trade-off between intellectually interesting and profitable (? debatable but generally true)
  • Not as much funding of public goods. Arguably, “predicting future public goods is as important a social function as predicting future private goods”

Can we move away from depending completely on only one of

  1. Government funding
  2. Market Influence
  3. Academia

The best predictor of success in innovation is the number of other people they come into contact with

Some thoughts. Already have been thinking about this in relation to hackathons, paid open source

3rd Spaces

For people wanting to create change, why do we choose to do that through innovation rather than policy? (is this due to creation vs maintenance approaches to thinking?)

Procurement services: finding a business application of research (specifically government funded)

We’re not building a utopia of research, this is more about finding a relationship/group of people you can be yourself with. It doesn’t need to be permanent, recognizing people have different stages in their lives. Once you’re done, you can move on.

Related: reinventing hackathons as 3rd spaces

PARPA and alternative funding models / /

From the Atlantic: “In a recent paper, Pierre Azoulay and co-authors concluded that Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s long-term grants to high-potential scientists made those scientists 96 percent more likely to produce breakthrough work. If this finding is borne out, it suggests that present funding mechanisms are likely to be far from optimal, in part because they do not focus enough on research autonomy and risk taking.”

Another potential method is research labs becoming sustainable by bringing products to market


New Science

New Science will create a network of new scientific institutes pursuing basic research while not being dependent on universities, the NIH, and the rest of traditional academia and, importantly, not being dominated culturally by academia.

Their plan is to not replace traditional academic institutions, but to develop alternative/complementary ones to provide ‘competitive pressures’ on existing ones. New Science is to research as Silicon Valley was to entrepreneurship.

Incentive and organizational structures are not everything. You can copy all of the US’s laws and structures of government and this will absolutely not lead to your country’s GDP per capita suddenly (or ever) jumping to $60k/year. Similar things can be said about research organizations.

”Instead, I believe that the most promising way to achieve large-scale improvement in the way basic scientific research is organized is to start small, help individual scientists, and to make small steps towards a much better world.” Is this potentially good justification for minigrants?

Santa Fe

Themes of research generally surround complex systems and a more system-based approach to analyzing and learning about the world:

Computers were becoming more powerful, and some scientists began to dream of a day when they might simulate highly complex systems, even living systems, in silico.

”We weren’t disillusioned,” [Pines, the SFI Co-founder] says. “But we recognized that universities were ill-equipped to nurture emerging new fields, and we were thinking about how we could help them grow. If we could create an institution where they could flourish, we thought we could make a difference.”

All we needed was a few million dollars, a building, a staff, and a great deal of luck… The key was simply to create a refuge for brilliant scholars to interact in an environment that was free from boundaries – what one collaborator many years later called “a spa for the brain.”