Quote of the week ✍️
Protect your own good in all that you do, and as concerns everything else take what is given as far as you can make reasoned use of it. If you don‘t, you‘ll be unlucky, prone to failure, hindered and stymied. ~Epictetus
From the Daily Stoic: The goodness inside of you is like a small flame and you are it‘s keeper. It‘s your job, today and every day, to make sure it has enough fuel, that it does not get obstructed or snuffed out.
What I learned this week
Gibson assembly is 🤯
DNA research one heck of an interesting field, which I‘m sure it will transform the world in the upcoming 5-50 years. It is incredibly difficult and complex: The human genome contains 3 billion base pairs (ATGC). Molecular sequences of those base pairs, that have a function are called genes (~20 – 25k in a human). A huge part of the human genes is not even activated (only ~1.5%) and most human traits only can be predicted if multiple genes are turned on or off (plus environmental factors). So far so complex. Wikipedia knowledge. Only took about 160 years to figure out.
Just from those lines I think one can imagine how difficult it must be to read and write entirely new DNA or even manufacture DNA that allows different use cases (eg. vaccines). Turns out, there is a promising new technology that allows to do exactly that: sending decoded DNA as computer code and manufacture a vaccine, essentially printed from the raw ingredients of the DNA. This is truly mindblowing: usually it takes ~6 months to manufacture a new vaccine, with this method it might take a few days.
Our brain hemispheres code for economic thinking 🤔
The classic economic model of homo economicus is – from a philosophical perspective – a rather happiness minimizing model. The basis of this model is, that everyone maximizes his own benefit (think of this like a contract, where you think „What‘s in for me?“ or „I‘ve to protect myself from being exploited“). As humans we have this basic need to connect to others, to enjoy our relationships. Therefore we have to work for the greater good not just for the short term payoff. For example: If you live your marriage with this „economic“ attitude and keep score over everything you do, you will probably end up with a pretty shitty relationship.
However, this kind of opposites (economic vs. altruistic) are deeply rooted in our brain structure. Research shows, that the left hemisphere is more narrowly focussed and thinks of maximizing payoff. The right hemisphere has a broader focus, is able to see the bigger picture and connect the dots on a higher level. It is responsible for not only thinking about ourselves but as us in a bigger context of human interactions.
Uninterrupted focus is a luxury 🧠
I spent some time thinking about practice and how to do it the best way. As I‘m interested and easily engaged in so many things this is a though one for me. I think, the internet is amazing if you are curious: You can deeply get into all kinds of things. But – on the downside – it‘s also a huge distraction machine: Notifications, Email, Whatsapp, Slack,… and I didn‘t even mention Facebook or Instagram yet.
We live in a world, where deep, uninterrupted focus becomes an absolute luxury. However, it seems that this is the most effective way to get better and do high quality work.
Therefore we need to make a habit out of seeking and finding our room for getting rid of distractions, room to think and to reflect about ourselves. We won‘t feel that busy anymore, but it will probably influence our own performance (and well-being!) greatly to the positive.
Some Economic & Crypoeconomic Insights
Vitalik Buterin is the Chief Scientist at Ethereum, the second most popular crypto currency in the world to Bitcoin. This guy is 25 and his computer science & economics knowledge is unbelievable. Listen to the podcast in the link below.
I especially find it a fascinating mental model to see the blockchain as a world computer that processes instructions based on rules and saves all the transaction data. From a computer science point of view essentially every program can be run on top of the blockchain. However (and this is the major upside!), the compliance to the underlying rules is guaranteed even if an actor gets corrupted, dies or gets hacked (so that you can be sure that eg. your digital money is transferred securely).
Here is a short example what that means: Imagine a corrupt government that one day decides to transfer the land to relatives of the dictator. In today’s world they would fake some certificates and could enforce the transfer of the assets by legal reasons. With the blockchain, that would not be possible as past transactions cannot be modified without breaking the whole system. If you are interested and want to get into crypto, I highly recommend the Hashpower series, which I linked below.
Technology wise, current crypto technology is just a lot too slow. Currently Ethereum can process 15 transactions per second (compared to Visa‘s ~1600). It is a problem that the developers of those currencies currently tackle, however it will still take some time until this is solved. This is a precondition for more main stream adoption of blockchain applications.
- Crypo 101: The Hashpower podcast series by Patrick O’Shaughnessy
- Podcast/Postcast Transscript: Conversation between Tyler Cowen & Vitalik Buterin
- Vitalik Buterin – Papers & Posts about Cryptoeconomics
Interesting thing of the week
A friend of mine showed me a incredible computer music video: a band made up from floppy disc devices, printers & old hardware. The man behind the project is Pawel Zadrosniak. He built a MIDI interface to control his device orchestra and let the setup of devices create basically every pitch he wants.