Why not breed intelligent cats?

Breed intelligent cats. 

  1. Select based on ability to solve a unique puzzle, making the puzzle more complex for subsequent generations 
  2. Then select based on ability to move younger and make sounds 

You should get a breed of cat that you can have conversations with. 

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Humans are currently being disrupted by intelligent robotics

There is a fierce debate about what AI and improved robotics are going to do to humans’ productivity and the future of work.

Opponents are afraid that humans will be out of work. Proponents say that robots will allow humans to focus on what makes us unique.

Proponents are right.. For now.

Actually, what is happening is, the value chain of human production systems which places value on the unique capabilities of humans is being disrupted.

In many circumstances that are currently served by humans, human capability has surpassed the needs of the customer. This “overshooting” of market needs creates the perfect condition for a disruption, in this case (increasingly) intelligent automation.

The “low end” of human labor is being replaced by less capable, but fully satisfactory, intelligent robots.

As the theory predicts, this feels good for the humans who are being disrupted. By leaving the low-end production tiers to the robots, humans can focus on what they are uniquely capable of doing: Creative work. Everybody wins. For now.

Based on what the theory of disruption would predict (as I have interpret it), I believe that humans will greatly benefit by being driven upmarket, one final time.

Machines drove humans out of manual physical labor. This felt good and multiplied output and productivity.

Machines drove humans out of low-end manual intellectual labor, such as performing simple rinse-and-repeat administrative tasks. Again, it felt great for the human race as productivity multiplied.

Machines  are now in full force, speedily making inroads at high-end administrative labor, such as driving, data management, predicting and making rules-based decisions. It is scary, but will ultimately again feel great, as humans will be able to do the one thing that gives us ultimate pleasure and that machines will not yet be able to do: High-end creative labor.

For a time, it will be fantastic. The yay-sayers are right. At the next stage of our being disrupted, humans and machines together will work together, humans outsourcing to machines what machines do best, and focusing themselves on creative direction. Together, we will increase living standards, and be able to use work to fulfill ourselves rather than be stuck in a menial, repetitive, meaningless job.

But there is not more tier. After creativity, humans will not have anything that machines lack. Machines will get there. It may take long, really long time. Or it may take only two decades.

And when it does happen, we will have nowhere else to go. Nothing else that we can do, that machines can’t. And depending on how we have shaped our co-existence with machines when that happens, things may go really well, or really bad.

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Nintendo NX is a disruptive innovation

According to recent rumors, Nintendo NX will be less powerful than current gen (PS4), and be a handheld that can slide into a dock that lets you play games on your TV.

Hence, it seems to fulfill the criteria for a disruptive innovation relative to today’s high-end consoles (PS4 and Xbox One):

  • It performs worse from the view of the core consumer (the hardcore gamer)
  • It offers “good enough” capability (better than last gen but less than current gen) seen from most gamers’ perspectives (this is pure speculation on my part, but based on personal experience and talking with friends who used to be gamers, this seems to be true)
  • It offers more convenience, and likely at a lower price. This is likely valued by a vast amount of “forgotten” gamers (again speculation since I haven’t studiet the market, but I believe this to be true)

Thus, form the non-core market’s perspective, the Nintendo NX seems to offer a better solution. Sony and Microsoft will likely pursue their best customers – the hardcore gamers – in order to avoid losing that lucrative market to each other. Nintendo will take the market who’s needs are currently over-served.

Because of this, I believe that Nintendo NX will create another Wii-like runaway success, and eat non-core market share from Sony and Microsoft.

Time to buy Nintendo shares!

(BONUS: Because traditional analysts and industry experts are embedded in the current value network – that of the hardcore gamers – they are likely to miss the potential of the Nintendo NX and deem it a hopeless endeavor. Thus, stocks are likely to be cheapest sometime in-between the official unveiling of the console, but before pre-orders are opened up 😉 )

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Decide based on principles – not results

A principle-based decision making framework. That is – I’ve come to realize – the key to success. Regardless of how you measure success. Let me explain.

Currently reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (Sidenote: probably the most life changing book I’ve read in my life – I can’t believe I haven’t read it until now – just imagining how my life would have been if I read it when I was 20 or so.) The book mentioned principle-centered living a couple of times, and even dedicated a whole chapter to the subject. But it’s not until I read this part that I really got it:

“Where does intrinsic security come from? It doesn’t come from what other people think of us or how they treat us. It doesn’t come from the scripts they’ve handed us. It doesn’t come from our circumstances or our position. It comes from within. It comes from accurate paradigms and correct principles deep in our own mind and heart.”

Suddenly, it made sense. I’ve been wrestling with a big decision for a couple of weeks now. It is actually a life changing decision.

I’ve always had a hard time making big decisions. I could never really feel that “gut feeling” that people talk about. I try to foresee the future. I weigh pros and cons. I analyze potential outcomes. I do everything – but decide, and just go with the decision.

In one blow, after reading that sentence, I realized this: I’ve been making decisions based on wrong premises all my life. I’ve been trying to predict the best outcome. This isn’t principle-centered decision making. It is outcome-centered decision making.

“What will lead to the greatest outcome” – rather than “what is the right thing to do, based on what I believe is right?”

Ironically, I realize now, outcome-centered decision making leads to worse outcomes, for several  reasons.

First, it is prone to error. Nobody can predict the future.

Second, it is draining. By trying to predict the future, you will constantly end up evaluating your choice – never really “landing” in what’s the best course of action. Every bit of feedback you get along the way will make you question whether the choice you made will really lead to the best outcome, or if your other option was the better choice. You will end up constantly questioning yourself.

By making decision based on what’s the right choice – based on principles you believe in – regardless of outcome, you will be more centered. More firm. More trustworthy. Have greater integrity. Knowing what you believe in, and following that belief regardless of the possible outcome, does that to you.

And perhaps more importantly, the gut feeling can develop. Finally, it will be possible to feel what is right – because that feeling will be based on whether you are following your principles, or whether you are doing something wrong. Suddenly, it is possible again to listen to your emotions when making decisions.

This will save a lot of energy. Ironically, because you don’t waste a lot of energy questioning yourself, you will also become more productive. And, correct principles are time-tested. They are proven to work, through the history of people men throughout time. People who made the world a better place. People who were happy. So good principles are a good guide, and a great measuring stick for how well you are doing.

So what are the correct principles?

According to Covey, it’s the following:

  • Fairness
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Human Dignity
  • Service
  • Quality and Excellence
  • Potential and Growth
  • Patience, Nurturing and Encouragement

And what do they mean? What is it, to be fair? What is it, to have integrity, honesty, to view people with dignity, and the other principles?

Well, that, I guess you have to decide for yourself. And that’s the part that I guess you can second-guess based on experience and feedback.

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Why it is time to sell your Apple stock

Apple is built on uncompromising design choices. This is a foundational piece of their strategy and what makes them unique.

Last time Steve Jobs left the helm, Apple started compromising on its strategic position. While not immediately visible since short-term revenues went up, after a few years it was clear that Apple had lost its way.

When Steve Jobs came back, all compromises were cut and dumped – including entire product lines. He focused on what makes Apple Apple: Uncompromising design choices where every decision had to fit with every other decision still in effect, as a congruent whole.

From this core, he then added logistical, sales and marketing decisions, where again every decision fit with every other decision.

Apple was entirely about internally consistent choices, with its uncompromising design philosophy at the core. Because of this, nobody could do it like Apple. Either you had to copy the entire company, or accept unsolvable incongruency costs.

Today, it has only been a few years since Steve Jobs left the helm, and we are already starting to see the same type of design compromises as last time creep in.

Battery case add-ons, and an ugly and badly designed one at that. A keyboard on an iPad, it also badly designed and full of compromises. Other small design compromises forced by unnecessary features.

None of these compromises would have been accepted by the old Apple.

Michael Porter’s excellent article “What Is Strategy?” warns about exactly this type of straddling.

In doing this, Apple has started to erode its core strategy and unique position. If they continue like this, they will soon become like everybody else. It will be impossible to distinguish between a product made by Apple, Microsoft or Samsung. Financial results will follow.

Right now, Apple is at the top of the world. They are the most profitable company in history. But the straddling will soon prevent them from keeping this position.

That’s why I am selling all my Apple stock today. And I recommend you to do the same.

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Why you should not focus on earning money if you want to secure your future

If you want to earn a lot of money, first ask yourself this question: why?

For most people, the purpose is safety. They want to feel that they will never be poor, that they will always be able to make enough money to support themselves and potentially also a family, and live a good life.

So they start collecting and amassing money. Seeing that number in their bank account grow makes them feel safe.

But there is a big problem with this approach.

The problem is that money is not permanent. During your lifetime, things will happen that will make you lose your money, or more accurately, the value that that money represents. Inflation, wars, government taking your assets, bank runs, and many other things that you cannot do anything about.

What you cannot lose, however, is what’s in your head.

Your knowledge is the most valuable thing you possess. Why? Because your knowledge determines your ability to make more money. And your ability to make money is permanent.

In the story if the golden  goose, a goose started laying golden egg for its farmer. But the farmer got greedy and killed the goose in order to pluck all the golden egg at once, only to he disappointed to not find any Egg inside the goose. In the process, he had also killed any hope of new golden egg in the future.

Let us for a moment pretend that there were a bunch of golden egg in the goose. Who has more freedom, who is more secure, who has more prosperity? The farmer that collected a bunch of egg, or the farmer who got one egg a week forever?

The farmer who waited would never have to worry about survival again, and he could do whatever he wanted with his time. The farmer who killed the goose could go and buy something really luxurious and cool, but then he would have to go back to his farm and spend his time producing food, and worrying about the future. Would you rather be the farmer with the cool thing, or the farmer who never again has to worry about survival and can spend his time on whatever he wants?

What would you do with your time, if you didn’t have to spend it earning money for survival?

If you think this type of freedom might be degenerating because it will make you lazy, I think you have a bigger problem. That of purpose and drive. If you need to be forced to do something in order to not fall into laziness, you unfortunately have lost the connection to what drives your from within. That passion for living, curiosity and internal drive to do something because you enjoy it, because you enjoy growing, and because you enjoy the feeling of pride in having contributed to something bigger.

But now we’re digressing. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: stop focusing on amassing money. Focus on growth and development. Focus on increasing your value to the market. Focus on learning things that others will pay you money for. That is the ultimate freedom, the ultimate security, and the ultimate path to creating it source of income that doesn’t rely on your time.

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Realism and the purpose of science

Whether or not we can directly comprehend reality is irrelevant. What is relevant how well we are able to predict the future. That is the purpose of science, and the only important factor to strive for, as that is what will give us increased control over our own fate. (Of course, this assumes that our purpose is to increase control over our own fate – some would object to that, mostly leftists and other types of collectivists.)

For example, whether or not something called “electron” actually exists is not important. What is important is that our model can use the construct it calls “electron” to predict future observations.

Our model consists of two major things:

  1. Constructs that model reality (for example the construct of “electron”)
  2. A way to translate observable reality into the language of our model

Using these two main components, our model can increase our ability to understand (and thus control) the future in the following way:

  1. We start by making an observation of the current reality, translating that into our model
  2. We then introduce an cause in our model, and verify through observation (may be done indirectly) that the same cause happens in reality
  3. We make a prediction in our model of what a future observation will look like, then we verify by making an observation and see if it is what we predicted

Whether or not the constructs used in our model do or do not actually exist in reality (i.e. Realism) is thus irrelevant. What is relevant is our connection to reality, and our connection to reality is the observations we can make. Thus, it is not important to predict actual reality, but to predict what we will observe using our model’s constructs.

Here’s a picture describing how this looks:

predicting future observations

Whether or not our model exists in reality is not important – what is important is our ability to predict future observations

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