the questions i find most interesting

April 29, 20203 min read

Here are some of the questions driving my curiosity lately.

  • How do you change culture?

    Relevant Reading: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  • How do simple animals (ants, bees) create functional societies without thinking?

    Relevant Reading: The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

  • How do social dynamics work in other species?

    Relevant Reading: Dolphin Diaries: My 25 Years with Dolphins in the Bahamas

  • How do you create a highly functional institution?

    Relevant Institution: Stripe

  • How do you delay or stop institutional decay?

    Relevant Reading: Samo Burja

  • How do I make my snap judgements more accurate?

    I’ve been interviewing recently, for my work and my co-living house, and I find that my people-judgements are miscalibrated. I’m very accepting and I focus on the best in people, which is OK in a social situation. But it’s not ideal when I need to make decisions with a lasting impact. What sorts of questions can I ask and what should I pay attention to to better calibrate my judgements?

    Relevant Reading: No recommendations! What should I read?

  • How do you learn agency? How can you teach agency?

    Recommended Tweeting: It seems to me like agency is tied to confidence which is tied to status, so I’d recommend Julia Galef on Subcultures

  • How do I want to raise my kids? And especially, how do I want to educate my kids?

    Relevant Reading: Free to Learn

    Relevant Watching: Most Likely to Succeed

  • How can I make my backend code cleaner?

    My front-end projects are beautiful, but as projects grow, my backend code becomes a hot mess.

    Recommended Reading: No recommendations! What should I read?

  • What are some politically feasible ways of easing the homelessness crisis?

    I’m all for YIMBY measures, but sometimes they feel too politically far-fetched. What do homelessness solutions that route around the system look like, or feel like a win-win for everyone?

    Recommended Tweeting: Me on Public Restrooms (might be politically more feasible as a stopgap)

  • How do you spread good memes about engineering? I suspect many more people would enjoy software engineering than actually do it, especially women. Most people don’t seem to know what engineering involves or what it feels like. How do you pique someone’s interest? How do you correct false impressions?

    Recommended Reading: No recommendations! What should I read? Or what are your personal thoughts on the matter?