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I legitimately can’t fathom being so well read. Both of you. Great interview.

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Thanks! Glad you liked it!

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Haha so true. Right click >> look up has never got such a work out.

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Stunning range and depth of opinion between the two of you. Nice interview. To Patrick's list of new technologies the world needs, I might add: faster-built, cheaper, and more resilient shelters.

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Thanks! Yeah, good one.

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> faster-built, cheaper, and more resilient shelters

Stabilized rammed earth blocks, Lego-like in design so as to be stably dry-stacked and easily assembled by anyone with virtually no tools, produced literally out of the dirt anywhere in the world, creating a completely finished exterior or interior wall in one fast, cheap step. Blocks are as durable as stone or concrete, can be taken apart and reused in a new configuration to remodel the existing building or create a new one, are impervious to fire, rot, and insects, have excellent thermal mass and noise dampening, lend themselves naturally to passive solar design, and can be very beautiful (image search "rammed earth home").

We need regional automated hydraulic block press factories, which can be quite small and mobile, and better block designs than simply copying the standard figure eight Concrete Masonry Unit, which requires expensive skilled labor to assemble, has to be mortared together, and can't be effectively disassembled or reused.

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Mar 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

I wonder why Stripe succeeded so much more than Paypal

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author

PayPal was acquired too early.

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Paypal's market cap is $293bn - they are not exactly dead

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Mar 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Noah, I'm very impressed with your interviews with a host of brilliant people. It opens up my views of issues with current, little politicized, big pictures of where the world is going by some of the people bringing the world there. And of course shames me in my own ignorance, a good thing. :-)

I have only one little quibble with this one: "Solar electricity is asymptoting to near-free...": I don't see how that can happen. At the very least, cost of land and cost of infrastructure to hook up to, distribute, and load level will provide a lower limit, even if we reuse roofs to generate some of the electricity. What might be the lower limit?

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That's a good question. I don't think "near free" will ever be operationally defined; it will always seem just as expensive as it is. However, I do think his basic point, which is that solar is going to get much cheaper than any electricity source we've had in the past, is true and very very important.

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Solar is already about as cheap as any source we already have. But who has looked at the limits to how much its cost can decrease? Moore's law can't apply to something bounded by terrestrial surface area (much of which is used already) nor to the efficiency of conversion of light to electricity (which can only approach 100%.) Manufacturing costs (and energy usage) can decrease, but you will still be limited by needing to support cells above the ground and probably to keep them clean as well.

It looks as if efficiency could triple, and generation at 1/3 the current cost would be a boon. But how much further could we go?

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Is solar not advantageous in that it can utilise swathes of the earth's surface that are not currently utilised? It's not clear exactly how effective Desertec (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec) has been, but something with a similar principle might be a good idea. Figuring out storage and transport of all that energy is another problem and may render it less effective, but I don't think terrestrial surface area is the issue with solar.

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Maybe consider the "futuristic" development of solar panels in space (very low cost/acre) which beam electricity to the surface.

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That won't be practical until we can manufacture in orbit, probably using materials from the asteroid belt or the moon. That's way out in the future. I presume that the extra energy beamed onto earth will be minuscule compared to the energy trapped by rising CO2 levels.

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Mar 8, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Amazing Interesting Inspiring ! Thanks

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Thanks!

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We basically moved from a goal-oriented society (We're going to the moon!) to a status based society (high net worth individuals are also high status, regardless of psychopathic personality traits). And although much progress has been made in terms of social equality (among other things) since the 60's, this particular shift in mindset is a step down the development ladder.

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What does this comment have to do with the interview?

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From the interview,

"So if I'm reading you right, you think a modern culture doesn't value technological progress enough. Why do you think this culture changed? Did we simply get enough stuff that getting yet more became less urgent for us, and we instead started to care more about zero-sum fights over social status? That's what happens when you climb up the ladder of Maslow's Hierarchy, right?"

The interviewer got the progression backwards...as people develop they move from a status-based mindset to goal-oriented. I'm. Im not gonna debate this one with you though.

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Thank you -- I had no interest in debating you either.

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On Tacit knowledge. Has anybody else noticed there is nothing in the gap between DIY and years long apprenticeship programs? I checked at this website for Ireland. https://www.fetchcourses.ie

I wanted to learn 12v electronics to fit out a van for my work - and the choices are DIY learning from Youtube and reading - or start an apprenticeship. That is insane.

Most technology comes out of some skills used in a new domain - well this is the major barrier isn't it - it's sort of obvious.

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In the same boat. Don't believe anyone has attempted an Illichian style Learning Network (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deschooling_Society) & this is perhaps the 10x the Khan academy Patrick referred to. Learning being standardised into 3-4 year blocs as university degrees is absolutely staggering.

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I've not heard the term "meta-maintenance" before when referring to cultural or societal debt if you will. Taking the analogy of tech startups further, I'm skeptical that the incumbent institution/city/etc is best equipped to accelerate innovation.

Fighters prepare using iPad software, Stripe started in payments (less regulated than say banking), and innovation generally happens at the margins where regulation is unclear or absent. So perhaps humanity is simply better suited in a perpetual state of creative-destruction — building new things and institutions rather than maintaining existing ones for too long. Perhaps creative-destruction is simply a dynamic meta-maintenance mode.

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I really enjoy these kind of conversations, but at the end I'm left wondering what the point of all this innovation is if the benefits are still so unevenly distributed. Maybe what I'm missing is the part of his discipline that "studies the history and determinants of technological advancement and how it feeds into social progress more generally."

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Having read a ton of papers about technology and inequality, I think we just don't know a lot about how the one feeds into the other. In the 90s a lot of people thought technology was contributing to inequality, but then that was sort of debunked in the 00s: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/342055?journalCode=jole

Now a bunch of people are saying that automation fuels inequality, so the "technology causes inequality" idea is coming back. But I'd say the jury is definitely still out. I do think Patrick cares about that though, and is thinking about it.

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Yeah bro, all the money I spent on my last root canal totally just went to my dentist.

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I enjoyed your stabbing of quantum computing, very ruthless.

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Because the benefits of technology do become more widely distributed. The average life expectancy right now in Jordan, Albania, and Ecuador (not exactly the richest countries on earth, you have to admit) is well higher than the average life expectancy in the US in 1970. The average life expectancy in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Senegal right now is well higher than the average life expectancy in the US in 1945.

There are people alive now who lived through a time when someone as famous as Nellie Bly would die from pneumonia at 57 (in 1922). I dare say that, outside of pandemics like the current COVID one, all of us these days would be shocked if a famous 57 year-old in good shape (and not abusing substances) died of pneumonia these days.

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This is something touched upon in this article, but because people die (it’s rare for people to live much past 100), pretty much the only people who can understand what life was like centuries ago (or even 80 years ago) are those who have lived a very long time or those who have or had parents/grandparents who lived to huge technological and societal change. To someone who grew up during a time when getting water every day meant risking your life to scamper down a steep slippery deep well every day, kids were infested with lice, ringworms, and all sorts of other stuff, and people just upped and died all the time (especially babies and women giving birth), even the suggestion that there’s no point to innovation would sound not only ridiculous but inhumane.

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"But I think that our support for human rights and liberty should be somewhat closer to an absolute."

Only in China or also in Saudi Arabia?

"In his commencement address at Harvard in 1978, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn claimed that civic courage was in decline."

Well, alleged civic courage decline notwithstanding, America, then, supported human rights in the Soviet Union (including the Jews'right to emigrate), but not in Chile or South Africa.

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The U.S. consistently condemned apartheid and pressured South Africa to end it, throughout the 60s and 70s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa%E2%80%93United_States_relations#Resistance

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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_Baby_Option

Also, the same Reagan who, since the 1960s, denounced any kind of concession to the Soviets as a betrayal of America's mission felt at easy in the 1980s to veto the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 ( Congress overrode him, but the pattern, as the Executive is concerned, is clear).

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The level of sycopanthy is disgusting. You don't have to suck to PC just cause his NW is 36B. Also, none of his ideas seem to be particularly insightful. E.g. the link to pinterest of code viceo is just sad - stupider and stupider tools strip the last remnants of understanding from users instead of intelligence augmentation.

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I believe you would benefit greatly from intelligence augmentation. Not to mention a bit of grace.

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Thank you both! I came here to be read to on both broad and focused subjects generated by thinking minds . I came here to have my mind nourished on a diet not usually offered by others. Bon appetit!

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You might be interested in my startup think tank (Good Science Project) with launch funding from Collison. https://goodscienceproject.org, or just check out my Substack.

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The Dominican Republic has more foreign investors than Haiti, this is due to his politically stability and it close relationships with the United States and Spain.

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The interview, which I translated into Japanese with your permission, had a great response in Japan, and executives of listed companies thought it was a numbingly good interview. (https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/interview-marc-andreessen-vc-and)

If it is convenient for you, I would be happy to translate this article as well. I personally believe that Stripe will be a top tech company in the next generation, and I think it is very meaningful to deliver this interview in Japanese.

Of course, I will link back to the original post.

Thanks for your consideration.

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Wow! Absorbing, original, informed, challenging, edifying. And he's as cute as a button.

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