Definite Optimist Weekly Roundup # 3
IP NFTs, web3 social media, a resurgence in American manufacturing, and deciding what to work on
Decentralized Science (DeSci) and IP NFTs
IP NFTs are a fascinating method of funding science. Biotech in particular seems to be well suited for new methods of monetizing early stage research. The NIH gives out tons of grants and universities are constantly generating new knowledge, but most of this knowledge fails to make it to stage I and II clinical trials and beyond due to gaps in funding.
To learn more about early efforts in this domain - check out this post from the Molecule Protocol blog:
Decentralized Social Media - aka Web3 Social
Decentralized social media is going to be a big opportunity for the rest of the 2020s. Applications are being unbundled from data monopolies. We’ll see a world where new tech emerges on top of blockchains to enable a new world of social media.
Antonio Garcia Martínez, the author of Chaos Monkeys and one of the engineers behind Facebook’s ad network, is thinking through how to monetize web3 social:
The “Billion User Table” by Jon Stokes also explores a similar idea. What happens when logins work totally differently? If it were “bring your own data” instead of your data stays with us? “Connect Wallet” vs “Username and Password”? I’ve heard Vitalik say that he wants Ethereum to compete with Google and Facebook to become the de-facto login standard for the internet, and I think it has a real shot at winning over the long run.
I wrote on this as well last year. All of this is enabled by the unbundling of application logic and private databases. Social media will be an open, programmable backend (i.e. blockchains), combined with fierce competition to provide great front end experiences.
For those outside of the web3 bubble, I’m seeing a ton of interest in Lens Protocol from my crypto friends on both the user & developer front. They’re leading the charge in building the back end infra needed for a decentralized social media future.
More on Crypto & the Decentralized World
The Best DeFi newsletter I’m subscribed to, written by a group of very intelligent bowtied anons:
The Network State was released this week:
The book is a tour-de-force that synthesizes many domains - Balaji draws upon history, blockchains, social networks, politics, and more as he maps out how (and why) the next generation of founders could create startup societies.
You may not agree with every conclusion in the book, but you should read it. He does an excellent job of summarizing the existing political environment, and makes a concept that most people think is insane seem possible. If crypto & money printing made us question the nature of money, will our volatile political climate and startup cities make us question the nature of nations?
I’d also recommend this recent episode with Balaji on the Tim Ferriss show as supplementary listening.
Hard power requires hard tech, and scaling in hardware is really really hard:
I saw a great thread on the restoring in American manufacturing that got people excited. It seems that the general narrative around US industry is starting to shift.
Looming CCP / US Conflict
Joshua Steinman is an A+ twitter follow. This thread on asymmetric warfare and the CCP was eye opening. The US should think hard about its strategy here:
For further reading on this topic, check out Unrestricted Warfare. This book gives you an insight into how the CCP thinks about modern warfare. In short, they see the battlefield very differently than America does. To them, the battlefield is everywhere - they know that to defeat a supposedly technologically superior adversary they’ll have to play in an asymmetric way:
(the ‘Master Plan’ subtitle in the link above is a little misleading… IMO it’s more of a window into PLA military thought than a plan - it was also written in the 1990s so worth considering that it is dated)
What Should You Work On?
Paul Graham wrote an essay almost a decade ago on how to find startup ideas.
In short, luck favors the prepared mind. This post is about how to prepare the mind.
“Live in the future and build what seems interesting”
More on this topic: it’s hard to create anything great if you’re too rigid about your goals. It’s rare that great startup founders completely called their shot before starting.
Here’s another recent practical example: this Fields Medal winner followed his curiosity and solved a few really important problems in math. He dropped out of high school to write poetry, and was rejected from most math grad programs. To advance knowledge in society, we must allow people to explore their interests freely:
Foresight Institute’s Tech Trees are also really interesting mappings of emerging deep tech industries They’re attempting to actually narrow down the possibilities of near future innovations and help people find the most valuable areas to work on for the short to medium term future. They take an incredibly futuristic end state - such as asteroid mining - and mapping out the processes and capabilities that we need to exist to make said state possible. Check them out if you’re searching for inspiration.
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