“AI – great for computation and arithmetic, saves huge amounts of labor. It seems to me that it lacks humility, lacks imagination, and lacks humor.

Mary Catherine Bateson, systems thinker, on the seeming lack of systems theory underlying our progress with AI e.g. ChatGPT, or more generalized larger issues like climate change or urban police reforms  >> more


“It’s who can take the beating, who can make a mistake, who can take the pounding, then come up and do it again.”

-Laird Hamilton, big-wave rider >> more

Applies not in just any sport, like surfing, but in any endeavours in life…


The coffee tells my story.”

– Alfred H. Peet, founder of Peet’s Coffee, more >>

For those curious, the word “coffee” is said to have stemmed from qahhwat al-bun, which in Arabic means “wine of the bean.”

The only person who escapes the grim law of enantiodromia is the man who knows how to separate himself from the unconscious, not by repressing it—for then it simply attacks him from the rear—but by putting it clearly before him as that which he is not …

– Carl Jung, more >>

“While we are postponing, life speeds by. Time is the one loan which even the grateful recipient cannot repay.”

-Seneca, more >>

Golfer Tiger Woods was not a preordained champion. Rather perhaps, was he was more a product of raw talent, grit, ambition and his parents, notably of his Dad Earl Woods, former US Infantry Army officer and student of Werner Erhard’s “est” philosophy? >> more

“He was ignorant, conceited, lost his head..,” industrialist John D. Rockefeller would later say of Samuel Andrews, his right hand man. There is a little Sam Andrews in all of us. The lesson to walk away with is that temperament matters. A lot… more >>

Learning to be nourished by solitude rather than be defeated by it, Hermann Hesse argues, is a prerequisite for taking charge of our destiny.  more >>

“So much of what I’ve tried to do as a leader is guardrail around what I think my weaknesses are. Really important to me that I avoid the danger — which I think all humans have, but I know I have — of falling in love with my own view of things, my own righteousness…”

-James Comey, in an interview with Michael Barbaro in the NY Times more >>

Achieving our goals matters of course, with a new year in 2018. But we should meditate, too, on the value of the process. How to navigate through Schopenhauer’s valley of unsatisfied desires and goals in midlife … more >>

What Philip K. Dick captured with genius was the ontological unease of a future world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together. We might actually be living in that type of future now… more >>

“We cannot stay still,” famed “Beginner’s Mind” philosopher Shunryu Suzuki cautions. “We have to do something … but be very observant, careful, and alert. Zen is not some kind of excitement but concentration on our usual everyday routine…” more >>

“Next time you encounter someone driving a Ferrari, assume not that the driver is greedy, but that he or she is extremely vulnerable to insult and to being ignored…” more >>

-Alain de Botton, on Status Anxiety

The way that the mind works, very frequently, is that we start from a decision, or a belief, and then the stories that explain it come to our mind. And the sequence that we have when we think about thinking, that arguments come first and conclusions come later, that sequence is often reversed.

Conclusions come first, and rationalizations come later….” more from Daniel Kahneman  >>

Decentralized, distributed ledgers and cryptocurrency might be the next big disruptive technology thing – potentially impacting big banks and big tech GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple).

Ten resources to bone up on blockchains, bitcoins and get up to speed … more  >>

You can have two big things, but not three – choose two among career, spouse, children, social life, startup, big hobby … more >>

“If you’re an amateur your focus should be on avoiding stupidity.” How to play the long game and succeed by avoiding mistakes … more >>

“Indeed, to the extent [that Whole Foods’] Mackey has compared Amazon to Waterloo is a valid analogy, Amazon is much more akin to the British Empire, and there is now one less obstacle to sitting astride all aspects of the economy.”

– “Amazon’s New Customer,” and “Amazon Go and the Future,” by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Stoics saw human nature as capable of rationality if trained (a factor “rational actor” fans often ignore), training in three disciplines (of desires, actions, and reactions) and in four capabilities (“courage, temperance, justice and practical wisdom”) … more >>

“Obsoletion – where a cheaper, single-purpose product is replaced by a more expensive, general purpose product – is just as common as ‘disruption’ – even more so, in fact.  Why the Mac (and PC), iPod, and iPhone weren’t so much disruptive as they were obsoletive.”

– Ben Thompson, “Obsoletive,” Stratechery

“What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.” Harvard political scientist Graham Allison says the Thucydides Trap can occur when a ruling power, feeling threatened by an assertive rising power, often resorts to war. Mr. Graham argues nations like the U.S. can apply lessons from history, apply mutual deterrence strategies, to deal with today’s emerging powers like China … more >>

A good founder is capable of anticipating which turns lead to treasure and which lead to certain death. A bad founder is just running to the entrance of (say) the “movies/music/filesharing/P2P” maze or the “photosharing” maze without any sense for the history of the industry, the players in the maze, the casualties of the past, and the technologies that are likely to move walls and change assumptions.”  more >>

Balaji S. Srinivasan, venture capitalist, “The Idea Maze

Self-talk can help us learn and think better. When we’re engaged in a conversation with ourselves, we typically ask ourselves questions along the lines of: “How will I know what I know? What do I find confusing? Do I really know this?” Whether we hit the pause button while listening to a podcast or stop to reflect while reading a manual, we develop skills more effectively by thinking about our thinking… more >>

Ulrich Boser, book author and senior fellow at American Progress

“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang onto.”

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and a prolific reader of books, once reading two per day in various disciplines when he was younger… more >>

“The duty of man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and … attack it from every side.”

Ibn al-Haytham

Has the human mind, finite in its capacity, been finally eclipsed by science and technology?  more >>


“Courage, President Kennedy knew, requires something more than just the absence of fear. Any fool can be fearless. Courage, true courage, derives from that sense of who we are … and the belief that we can dig deep and do hard things for the enduring benefit of others.”

– Barack Obama, in a speech on May 7th while accepting the 2017 Centennial “Profiles in Courage” JFK Award… more >>

“I divide my officers into four groups: clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. [Among the four groups] anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions.”

-German general Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, used Hanlon’s razor to assess his men

Like these two brothers and many visitors to the Plum Village, I came, in 2016, with no expectations and no prior knowledge of the place, the people, or its practice. I did come armed with questions and brought a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh, renowned Zen master and Buddhist. After a month practicing silent meditation, I came away transformed …  more >>

Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, Ingmar Bergman and Charles Darwin working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a high passion, ambition and capacity to focus, yet only worked a few hours a day. How did they manage to be so accomplished?  more >>

Napoleon Bonaparte was said to have studied all the great wars before his time, those of Hannibal, Alexander the Great and others, so completely and intently that he was able to intuit coup d’oeil – the right strategy at the right opportunity – to earn his many victories in the battlefield.  more >>

“Any type of change is hard, but institutional change – with the need to overcome tradition and bureaucracy – is the most difficult.” How father of modern oceanography Matthew Fontaine Maury mastered geographical, wind and sea data, and transformed maritime exploration… more >>

“You’ll have to work twice as hard to get half as much.  So get busy,” says a mom to a 10 year-old Marty Chavez after complaining that he was the only Hispanic kid in a private school in New Mexico.  Chavez is now Goldman Sach’s incoming CFO after years at the firm and as a serial tech entrepreneur… more >>

“The deep learning and AI sector have heated up in labor markets to relatively unprecedented levels. Large companies are recently paying $6–10 million per engineer for talent acquisitions, and $4–5M per head for pre-product startups still in academia …” more >>

“Our family lives in over-scheduled [team-sports] suburbia. Sometimes it feels downright dystopian. If you live in the suburbs [in the US], participation in team sports seems to be all the social activity on offer…”  more >>

Azeem Azhar talks with Professor Jeff Zachs, an authority on economic development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.  Good conversation covering a wide range of topics: AI, wealth inequality, automation and ethics by Aristotle, who is one of my favorite philosophers.  Soundcloud link (46 minutes)

Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight. It is the only real weapon we have against power.”

Michelle Dean, a writer for the New Yorker and New York Times, on why paying attention is a moral obligation.

“Look, my job is essentially just corralling more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action. And Charlie [Munger] — his children call him a book with legs.”

-Warren Buffett, famous investor, billionaire, and a prolific reading machine who spends 80% of his day reading … more >>

Caterina Fake writes about literature, poetry, social justice and the arts on her site at caterina.net.  I’ve been following her work and writings since 2000, around the time she launched her site and years before she became more well-known for founding Flickr (acquired by Yahoo), and Hunch (acquired and shut down by eBay). Over 118 thousand followers on Twitter and a Fast Company’s Fast 50 awardee.

“My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy…the battles between incumbents and software-powered insurgents will be epic.  Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who coined the term ‘creative destruction,’ would be proud.”

Marc Andreesen, former founder of Netscape and venture capitalist at A16Z (listen to their podcasts), in a 2011 essay “Software is Eating the World,” still relevant to this day.

Wikistrat crowdsourced consulting’s analytic community of over 2,200 diverse and interdisciplinary subject matter experts on geopolitics, strategy and economics is the future of management consulting.  Its roster of over 500 PhDs and 125 former military officers, and simulation-driven methodology offer a compelling alternative to McKinsey or Deloitte.

James Clear writes about “behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance improvement.”  I’m one of over 350,000 subscribers to his weekly newsletter and consumer of his simple but good content on mental systems.  His article on four burners theory is a favorite of mine.

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings ,”a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why,” is my go-to resource for meditations on design, philosophy, and psychology.  Ms. Popova was a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree and in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative in Business list.

Benedict Evans at Andreessen Horowitz is my main resource for “what’s going on and what will happen next” in artificial intelligence, mobile, technology and “software that is eating the world.”  He has tens of thousands of subscribers and over a quarter of a million followers on Twitter.