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    Arguably the only reason we’re getting self-driving cars is because we’ve gotten far enough in AI to be able to do training of neural nets and roadmapping quickly.

    The only reason we could do that is because of the massively parallel and cheap processing power of GPUs.

    And the reason we have cheap GPUs that are so good?

    Twenty years ago, the market decided that it was important to help people blow up monsters on their computers.

    Multics was a big project to do “useful things with software”, Unix was a couple of dudes goofing around on a PDP-7, and Linux was a crank Finn basically trolling his OS professor by writing yet-another ’nix clone.

    Moot made 4chan while on SA to make an American Futaba.

    These really important things weren’t centrally planned, they weren’t intended to be “useful”, they were just labors of love and whimsy.

    I can only support foppery and whim when doing things with software.

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      I’m not sure if 4chan belongs in that list.

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        I said it was important, not that it was good.

        Besides, do you have any idea how much Linux learning is a direct result of, say, stupid threads on /g/ over the years? How many people have tried woodworking after hanging out on /diy/? How many game systems and stories started off in /tg/, in turn giving solace and amusement to thousands?

        And that’s without even going into the political or cultural stuff.

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          Hah, I would agree it’s a “one of these things is not like the other”, but you can’t deny its importance and impact to today’s society. It was a dinky project he started in order to talk with his friends about anime, and it evolved to something so huge, for better or worse. I’d argue 4chan was one of the driving forces that made memes so popular and mainstream.

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          Not to detract too far from your point, but regarding:

          Arguably the only reason we’re getting self-driving cars is because we’ve gotten far enough in AI to be able to do training of neural nets and roadmapping quickly.

          Apple’s pulled out. Maybe. And über needed to steal someone’s research. Maybe.

          Perhaps the only reason we’re getting self-driving cars is because Google fleeced advertisers for years – perhaps unwittingly as a company, but at least some people inside the firm definitely knowingly and fraudulently.

          Digital Advertising is a kind of bubble, and while some people thought the ride would never end, others clearly have been investing in infrastructure.

          I don’t have a problem with that: Convincing advertisers to fund infrastructure in exchange for product placement is probably the best we can do we just need to make sure there’s enough people taking the right kind of advantage of the opportunity that things like adtech are really offering.

          I think there are other bubbles where we can bleed-off infrastructure improvements: Gaming might be one too.

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            Given the insane working conditions at the big game companies, I’m not sure I’d describe them as involving “foppery or whim”. Still, I can’t argue with idea that doing things for fun is worthwhile.

            But the unexpected side-effect argument can be broadened, as others have said, e.g. much of distributed systems infrastructure we have today is built on ideas that came out of Google and their massive data processing needs.

            I still think working directly on things you think are useful is probably better way to achieve something useful, rather than hoping for side effects.

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              Arguably the only reason we’re getting self-driving cars is because we’ve gotten far enough in AI to be able to do training of neural nets and roadmapping quickly.

              I think it more accurate to say we’re getting self-driving cars because of the huge potential profits that could be realized from the undertaking, not specifically because of advances in AI.

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              itamar, you’re sure to be pilloried by every ad/fin/etctech engineer who has been assuaging the niggling and constant awareness that they’re not actually producing anything of intrinsic value with the banality that they’re working on “interesting problems”. But you’re right on the money - it’s not that they need to meet your, or my, standard of usefulness; but they still have to meet their own. We can all smirk about the excesses of SV and the money that’s thrown around, but we’re the ones making things that do something. Or don’t do something. Each of us as individuals—and all of us as a trade community—need to fully reckon with how we are affecting the world every day. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Not even Snapchat.

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                I don’t know… markets are complex and complicated. Trying to figure out exactly what everyone should be working on is “kind of” difficult. I think the best we can do is perhaps try and incentivize things that make more of a difference, but even that’s tricky.

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                  Maybe, and I’m just spitballing here… that’s because markets are terrible decision-making systems that don’t scale beyond the imperfect information and timing lags inherent in the telegraph. And I’m not talking about the electric telegraph. I’m talking about the pre-electric telegraph systems that involved clockwork mechanisms waving flags at each other.

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                    Maybe, but then how would you explain how they work so much better than the alternatives in practice?

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                      They’re certainly imperfect, but for many (but not all) things, less imperfect than the alternatives.

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                      Often they’re slow decision-makers. In the case of Apple’s renaissance, guess they weren’t, but quite often the argument for non-market intervention is to speed things up. People certainly would buy Teslas voluntarily either way.

                      (Irony points for the fact governments don’t have better market information than the companies).

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                    There was an interesting argument by David Graeber that “doing useful work” is considered a privilege nowadays: “You are a nurse? And you complain about not being paid enough? Shut up, you are at least doing useful work.”

                    In terms of software development that would be: “If you want to do useful work, do shut up and be glad you can do it for free as an open source project.”

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                      I agree with the sentiment, believe me, I do. I worked in weird stuff, less weird stuff, totally non-weird stuff, but at the end of the day there was always one constant: my work always is about bettering the chances of making someone buy something. Always.

                      I sure wish that I could build cool and useful stuff for a living without taking a direct (and big) hit to my income, but so far I can’t see that. I’m only 31 years old and almost ten years in my career so hopefully I can be proven wrong in my lifetime but money being the way it is I seriously doubt that.

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                        The problem with “do useful things with software” is that software, on its own, is not very useful.

                        Software is primarily useful when it helps you to leverage other things, and up until recently, there were lots of undiscovered ways to leverage a keyboard, a mouse, and a bunch of long copper/glass wires. But we already have word processors, we already have 2d/3d drawing/design, we already have email, and SIP (which leverages speakers and a microphone), and video chat (which further leverages your camera), and hypertext. We also know how to leverage GPS, and smart phones, and vibration, and accelerometers.

                        Expecting there to be an infinite number of ways to leverage these handful of different components is silly. You might get lucky and stumble upon something slightly novel – like what Pokemon Go/Ingress did with GPS – or you might manage to make one of those existing things 5% better and attract some customers, but as we go forward, the odds you’ll find novelty are slowly approaching zero.

                        So, if you want to do useful things with software, you need to figure out new components! And the greatest source of unexplored components is the physical, non-PCB-surface-mountable world (which they don’t teach you about in C.S. courses): robotics/engineering/biology/chemistry in the small, organizations in the medium, and societies in the large.

                        Increasingly, “doing useful things with software” means focusing on non-“soft” things.

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                          I currently work in fin tech and, prior to that, ad tech. It’s soulless work on the best of days. My only issue is that there doesn’t seem to be many altruistic companies hiring, or at least in SV the signal to noise ratio is so bad they get squelched by all the startups hiring.

                          Maybe another weworkremotely needs to be made (think goodtechjobs.org) so that we can connect altruistic orgs with engineers who want to make a difference.

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                            Check out Binti. We provide web software to child welfare agencies that makes it easy for members of the public to become foster parents and helps agency staff approve foster families. Based in SF. https://binti.com/binti-careers/

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                              Is it open source or are you really just trying to replace these agencies with your proprietary apparatus?

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                                Thanks for the good questions both of you.

                                We are in it for the long haul, and have plans to become a B Corporation.

                                Binti is certainly not replacing child welfare agencies - after all, agencies have entire teams of staff providing services - we’re giving them modern IT to help them do their jobs better.

                                Right now, Binti’s customers and prospective customers are widely interested in fully-managed SaaS - they are grateful for our operations, security, and compliance expertise - they aren’t seeking to operate their own systems. It still feels really good developing software that helps find kids homes, even though the software is proprietary, not open source.

                                We do allow the agencies to download their data in standard formats in a self-service manner, so we don’t believe we are introducing any undue lock-in. Also we provide source code escrow that grants our customers a wide license to our software in the event that we severely breach our contract.

                                I’d love the hear your ideas to reduce risk for our customers in the case of acquisition or going out of business, as well as ideas to harness capitalism to benefit the little guy, building an organization that gets many of the benefits of capitalism while causing the least harm.

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                                  I am sorry that you do not see that by making proprietary tools you effectively replace the internal know-how of the public sector and make it more vulnerable to attacks from the private sector in the long run.

                                  I have seen accounting departments that are no longer able to function without consulting the private supplier. And it gets worse every year as the accountants leave. I do not expect anything else here.

                                  But don’t stress it much. Somebody will eventually rewrite the stuff, put it out in the open and drive you out of business. It’s cheaper.

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                                  That’s a good point. The software startups that survive either IPO into Wall St control or get acquired by companies that didn’t get big playing nice. Most of them like lock-in and scheme on people. So, if it’s not FOSS or a non-profit, there’s a good chance that what’s helping child welfare agencies now might become something causing them problems later. That’s the kind of risk I’d never want to happen.

                                  Also, @gkop, do note you can charge money for GPL’d software so long as you provide source on request or just have it in an FTP directory somewhere. You get the market share by branding, networking, and execution in general. There’s lots of also-rans in FOSS to proprietary apps whose companies just out-marketed and out-executed them.

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                                    Thanks Nick, replied as sibling!

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                              One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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                                Just because you don’t understand why something is evidently valuable doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

                                You think cryptocurrencies are a waste of time? Great, lots of people apparently have a better idea for how to use them than you do. Unless you can demonstrate that you actually have a more complete picture than those people by refuting their ideas, you are probably just missing the point.

                                People often say this sort of stuff about finance as well. People don’t understand how markets or financial abstractions work, so they accuse financial work of being pointless/usurious/whatever. This has been going on forever. (It’s actually one of the reasons Jews kept getting kicked around in medieval Europe; they weren’t religiously forbidden from charging interest, so they dominated the lending business. When you don’t understand time preference or leverage, you might get mad and call this “usury”. They wouldn’t do “useful” physical labor like good god-fearing coders^H^H^H^H^H^H Christians.)

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                                  Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as they provide a basis to justify a cryptographically secure distributed ledger. If you didn’t have a market economy that tried to reward people for competitive labor, you could probably have a far better cryptocurrency system.

                                  so they accuse financial work of being pointless/usurious/whatever

                                  Because it’s pretty much dedicated to migrating capital from one place to another. If you view capital itself as a usurious and abusive system, then finance migrates from “necessary evil” to “just plain evil”.

                                  And let’s be frank- the objections to usury made sense with the economic models of the time. If you deny the ability of labor to create value, every transaction becomes zero sum, at best, and prior to the industrial age, labor was not viewed in economic philosophy as a productive force. It’s only when you view labor as a productive force that you can create a positive sum economy, and that was the fundamental observation of the socialists. They turned wage-labor from a sunk-cost in the capitalist model into a positive-sum.

                                  The problem with capitalism is that, while it admits that labor creates value, it continues to subordinate labor to capital- labor exists to multiply capital. Capital, on the other hand, seems to exist in the absence of labor. The owner of the gold mine reaps the profits, while the miners get the smallest wage the owner can get away with.

                                  While the zero-sum mercantilist models of the pre-industrial era are fundamentally flawed, it’s difficult to claim that the market economies of the capitalists are any less blind in their approaches. That’s not to say the 19th century socialists hold any stronger weight in the modern world than the morally bankrupt capitalists, but the capitalist rejection of socialist philosophy in favor of their own hegemony definitely shows that the socialists posed a meaningful threat to capitalism that only ill-reasoned moralistic objections and appeals to tradition could be employed against.

                                  But I may be biased in favor of fully automated luxury communism.

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                                    Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as…

                                    You don’t get to decide or determine how much value something has. That’s not even a well-defined proposition; everything has exactly as much subjective value as is dictated by individuals’ utility functions and exactly as much market value as emerges from the interactions of market participants.

                                    If you didn’t have a market economy that tried to reward people for competitive labor, you could probably have a far better cryptocurrency system.

                                    Not sure what you’re trying to say here.

                                    If you view capital itself as a usurious and abusive system

                                    I can’t imagine someone with this view to be literate in economics or utility theory.

                                    And let’s be frank- the objections to usury made sense with the economic models of the time.

                                    In what way?

                                    If you deny the ability of labor to create value

                                    This would be as silly as denying that abstract financial jobs can create value.

                                    It’s only when you view labor as a productive force that you can create a positive sum economy, and that was the fundamental observation of the socialists.

                                    Unless you’re referring to Mazdak or something, modern socialism didn’t emerge until the French Revolution, and economists and utility theorists had already worked out that production had positive value. This was one of the major tenets of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which predates modern socialist thought. This is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics and a good explanation of why capitalism is effective. We’ve obviously learned even more since then.

                                    They turned wage-labor from a sunk-cost in the capitalist model into a positive-sum.

                                    Again, this is wrong. The very first capitalists like Smith had quite a good understanding of how to reason about the value of production.

                                    The problem with capitalism is that, while it admits that labor creates value, it continues to subordinate labor to capital- labor exists to multiply capital.

                                    You might be talking about some fat-cat bogeyman version of capitalism, while I’m just talking about sound analytical economics without regard to what is “subordinate” to whatever else. That word doesn’t even show up in my economic lexicon, so I just want to make clear that I’m not disagreeing with this part because I’m not even sure what you’re referring to.

                                    While the zero-sum mercantilist models of the pre-industrial era are fundamentally flawed, it’s difficult to claim that the market economies of the capitalists are any less blind in their approaches.

                                    No it’s not. Markets are remarkably effective and efficient at communicating price information, more than any plausible centrally planned system. This is especially the case if the mob doesn’t prohibit abstract financial instruments out of confusion.

                                    the morally bankrupt capitalists

                                    Again, just so we’re on the same page, I’m just addressing this from an optimization standpoint; I’m not going to bother arguing the inherent morals of this or that belief. I like systems that are, for a start, Pareto-optimal. Markets practically get us most of the way there, which can’t be said for, well… most other things.

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                                      This was one of the major tenets of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which predates modern socialist thought. This is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics and a good explanation of why capitalism is effective. We’ve obviously learned even more since then.

                                      The ecomonics Smith had in mind are vastly different to what we see now as “modern capitalism”

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                                        Please re-read my comment; I never stated that Smith was a capitalist (because, you’re right, that would stretch the modern definition), only that he managed to explain why capitalist markets work. I was in particular referring to the fact that Smith was aware of the positive value of labor (he treated it as any other valuable asset), which the GP erroneously claimed was invented by socialists.

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                                          … and I never claimed that you stated Smith was a capitalist. :-) As you correctly stated,

                                          Smith’s Wealth of Nations […] is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics”

                                          I think the connection between Smith’s economics and “modern market economics” is frightfully stretched, considering how representatives of these economics love to drop his name, yet apparently totally ignore that he was a moral philosopher.

                                          Whether “capitalist markets work” or “capitalism is effective” is open to debate, and just claiming such a thing doesn’t make it true per se. “Effectiveness” of an institution or concept that deeply influences society is not independent of morality. If it does then it becomes inhuman. Whether you like it or not, markets are not just mathematics.

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                                          I’m addressing the moral outcome of different policies from a utilitarian standpoint, not the inherent moral quality of the underlying beliefs (a la “morally bankrupt capitalist”). In fact, I actually do have (useful) things to say, because the stuff I’m saying can be falsified (unlike arbitrary moral indictments of people’s motivations).

                                          unless you actually manage to argue for how your Pareto-optimal crush helps people

                                          Pareto-optimality defines a hull in the parameter space where any belief system that seeks to maximize any global utility function that’s a positive function of individual utilities must live. Unless you’re some kind of sadist or you want certain people to suffer (which, I guess, describes some of the more vengeful forms of communism), Pareto-optimality is an obvious starting condition for a human-friendly world. (You want other stuff as well, but again, it’s a start.)

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                                              In the context of this discussion, I’m not interested in opinions on “domination” or the moral character of competition. That’s a bunch of subjective fluff that we could very well disagree on for fundamental reasons.

                                              What I hope we both agree is a good idea is the general notion of “the most good for the most people”, regardless of if you want to apply some non-uniform (positive) weight to the “importance” of different people.

                                              To be clear, I’m also not a fan of modern capitalism; I’m a fan of real, unrestricted capital markets, not the crony-capitalist red-tape hack-job we have right now.

                                              Now, that said, who are these people “wronged” by capitalism? Even though the market is relentlessly crippled by well-to-do but clueless forces, it has still managed to reduce poverty, starvation, illness, and many other (from my perspective) clearly bad aspects of life. If you’re really going to pull the “what about the starving people” card, what about all the people who are starving because they were denied capitalism, like in Venezuela right now or Eastern Europe and China throughout the 20th century? How do you convince them that state control in the interest of “cooperation” or “equality” or whatever excuse you want to use is a good thing?

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                                                To be clear, I’m also not a fan of modern capitalism; I’m a fan of real, unrestricted capital markets, not the crony-capitalist red-tape hack-job we have right now.

                                                So, I see this discussion come up frequently, and it’s relevant to my interests.

                                                The primary advantage (as I see it) of crony capitalism is that it’s less destructive than most dictatorships, and it ensures nobody else can seize power.

                                                What I don’t understand but would like to is this: What kind of protections would need to be in place to prevent an unrestricted capital market from degenerating into dictatorship or crony-capitalism.

                                                As far as I can tell, a pure anarcho-libertarian free market can degenerate (quickly) into a dictatorship whenever capital ownership becomes concentrated in sufficiently few immoral hands.

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                                          Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as…

                                          You don’t get to decide or determine how much value something has. That’s not even a well-defined proposition; everything has exactly as much subjective value as is dictated by individuals’ utility functions and exactly as much market value as emerges from the interactions of market participants.

                                          I don’t think you two use the same definition of value.

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                                            The author of that post has no idea what he’s talking about. A transaction doesn’t create value according to the dollar amount of the transaction. A transaction creates value (subjectively) corresponding to the difference between subjective value and market price (surplus), and (objectively, according to some arbitrary global utility function) corresponding to the change in well-being of the transaction participants.

                                            You’re right though, when most people say “value” they mean “stuff I like” rather than anything you can usefully measure or improve.

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                                      Makes me think of 80000 Hours’ argument about earning to give. The essential takeaway is that you can greatly increase peoples’ happiness with an amount of money that is small by the standards of Google/FB/etc.

                                      Moreover, there are charities that are extremely efficient with their money. See this quote from here:

                                      GiveDirectly has done a randomised controlled trial of their program, which found significant reductions in hunger, stress and other negative outcomes. Most of the money is invested in assets, such as metal roofs and water equipment. There’s little evidence it’s “wasted” on alcohol or gambling. GiveDirectly’s trial adds to an already substantial literature on cash-transfers, showing significant benefits (though these are usually conditional rather than unconditional).

                                      And, to add some emotion to it (from the same article):

                                      If you donate 10% of your household income to GiveDirectly each year, that’s $4,300 per year over your career. That’s enough to double the income of 5 Kenyan families each year, benefiting hundreds of people in a major way over your life.

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                                        Reminds me of the recent Noam Chomsky talk at Google

                                        Why not do some of the serious things?

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                                          Honestly, I work for an adtech company now. One of the main reasons I choose to do so was all of the stuff I’d learn. We use Go, Docker, etc, etc. The team is smart and I just felt that I’d be among smart engineers learning cool stuff. What I do next with what I learn is hopefully more “useful”.

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                                            By definition, all software that you are being paid to write is useful to your employer, whether they even use it or not. Otherwise they would not pay you. So the real question the author seems to poke at is, “Can we please do useful (to society and human advancement) things with software?

                                            Part of the problem with that is that companies generally have no direct incentive to improve society. They have a financial incentive to provide a service or product, which is tangentially linked to providing that value. They also have incentives to copyright and patent, which can hold back societal advancement while effective. And they have incentives to reinvent the wheel–if they can re-brand the wheel at all.

                                            On the other side, projects that are purely altruistic tend to be open source. This has funding problems (the engineer probably has to have a day job to feed themselves). It also has “herding cats” problems, in that it is easy to fracture the community when design disputes occur. And they have incentives to reinvent the wheel–because sometimes engineers like doing that. (I do find it interesting that open source projects are increasingly a requirement for interviewing.)

                                            Ultimately, it comes down to whether an individual engineer has the privilege to decide where they work. No job, kids to feed, often means taking any job, even if you disagree with the mission. On the flip side, you need capital and or an overwhelming passion to support purely altruistic programming.

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                                              On the other side, projects that are purely altruistic tend to be open source.

                                              Agree. It is infuriating that companies make millions of dollars off these projects and refuse to fund them. There’s no big middleware industry for general app dev because developers have killed it with half-assed open source projects.

                                              Currently, it appears the way to get funded working on infrastructure appears to be writing lots of code to make JS less awful :\

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                                              This is basically saying

                                              stop doing what the market thinks is good and instead do what “I” think is good.

                                              Of course with the hedge of saying “by ‘I’ I mean ‘you’ “ and the virtue signalling of complaining about the “upper-middle class” and “underpaid contractor”. And of course the complaint about the US healthcare system and how the programmers of the world should come up with technical solutions to a social and political problem.

                                              The assumption that advertising is bad because the author prefers browsing without ads.

                                              Pricing is how the market signals what it (which actually means somebody in the market) values. So if a company is paying a programmer 200k a year to write some adtech that just means the value of the work is at least 200k according to the company. And if people continue to go to websites riddled with ads that just means the people think that going to said websites is actually a net positive, after all, if ads are so completely insufferable, people would just not go online.

                                              And saying that cryptocurrency is built on a basis of capital flight from china is like complaining 20 years ago that the internet is a computer network built on a basis of distributing pictures and videos of naked women doing varied stuff while rolling your eyes and talking about starving children in Ethiopia.

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                                                Yes, I think you should stop doing what “The Market” thinks is good and do what you think is good. Blindly following the dictates of “The Market” is an abdication of personal responsibility and, arguably, a form of idolatry.

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                                                  “The Market” is ultimately just other people. You can make what you think would be useful to people, or you can make what other people tell you would be useful to them. By all means try to understand why people think they want what they think they want, but ultimately, in the cases when you can’t reach consensus, thinking you know what’s best for them better than they do themselves is patronising, arrogant, and IME less likely to result in making something actually useful.

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                                                    I think that’d be close to true if people had approximately equal wealth, but I’m wary of considering the market aggregated individual preferences with the current extremely lopsided distribution of wealth. At the very least it’s a heavily wealth-weighted aggregation. Not just in the sense of some people getting maybe double or triple the “vote” of others, but to such an extent that large numbers of people’s preferences are virtually invisible to the market, because their total spending power is less than that of a handful of wealthy families.

                                                    The other problem is that the market itself has weird dynamics. It’s a complex dynamical system with various kinds of feedback loops, not a well-behaved function mapping preferences to prices. You can make lots of money playing around in those dynamics rather than satisfying individuals’ underlying preferences that in theory are supposed to be transmitted by them (which is essentially what a lot of the finance industry does). Booms and busts are the most obvious high-level feature: when industrial output contracts by 30% during a severe economic crisis, this is more of an endogenous feature of the market than an aggregation of people’s preferences (people didn’t collectively decide in 1929 that we had too much stuff and should start producing much less of it).

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                                                      I think that’d be close to true if people had approximately equal wealth, but I’m wary of considering the market aggregated individual preferences with the current extremely lopsided distribution of wealth. At the very least it’s a heavily wealth-weighted aggregation.

                                                      I think you’re somewhat mixing how wealth is generated with where it goes in determining what the market wants. What the market wants creates the first part. The second part is irrelevant for us since we’re just talking about how to make something of value to the market. What is relevant is you pointing out that huge amounts of the market might be ignored because they can’t pay for what’s being offered. Again, though, that might not be relevant if the goal is to accumulate lots of paying customers or users that might bring them in later.

                                                      Aside from non-profits or loss leaders, the type of business that seems to target that other market are the ad-driven, lock-in-loving bunch like Google and Facebook. They’ve turned them into a well-profiled product to sell to large corporations. Since they don’t pay much, the combo of VC money and ad revenue was the best way to target that market. I’m not sure that’s a good thing overall given the incentives. Much good has come out of it esp with Google. The echo chambers Facebook and Twitter are creating for them have long-term negative impact based on how the recent elections were handled. It’s even possible they’re worse off because SV businesses targeted them instead of paying customers in the upper-classes since they’re stuck in those mental bubbles doing everything through services incentivized against their interests.

                                                      Second paragraph is just some thinking aloud on the topic as opposed to a final position for me. Just been bothering me watching the consequences for the masses at getting all this technology. Then the consequences they’re imposing on us through the electorate.

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                                                      This is a contradictory argument: I shouldn’t decide for myself because I should listen to The Market composed of people’s wants. But to each individual person you say that they shouldn’t decide for themselves either, they should listen to the The Market. So we all listen to The Market, and no one gets to actually decide what they want to do.

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                                                        When you’re doing something for yourself, you should decide for yourself. But when you’re doing something for other people, you should let those people decide what you do.

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                                                    I’m starting a new job in September working on in-situ gene sequencing. We’ll see how it goes, but from the outside it sounds pretty useful.

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                                                      This is my least favorite sort of troll dialogue:

                                                      • A: there is a problem with system X, here’s why we should work on that
                                                      • B: oh! but you either participate in, or have not completely solved X!
                                                      • C: is now aware of, and can work on the problem, no thanks to (B)
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                                                        How often does that happen, compared to people just unhelpfully telling other people to do stuff?

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                                                          Probably more often than one would think. I know little about authors and their lives of most ideas that influenced me.

                                                          And how often does this need to happen? What harm is done when it doesn’t?

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                                                            Well, I find hypocrisy and haraunging inherently annoying to a certain extent. On a broader level I think taking what people say too seriously in relation to what they do is contributing to a destructive political polarization.

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                                                      I should have thought of doing something useful.