The US dollar has a bleak future

The US dollar has a bleak future

What is the long-term future of the US dollar?

In this episode, I talk Lyn Alden who is an engineer in love with finance. She runs an investment research service for individuals and institutions at her website where she covers value investing with a global macroeconomic view.

As a big theme, she has been exploring the strength of the US dollar in the rapidly evolving world order and what the future holds for the world’s reserve currency. She claims that the 2020 decade will see a weakening of the US dollar due to a phenomenon known as the Triffin dilemma and that’s what I discussed with her in this episode. ...  Read the entire post →

Deliver value only on dimensions that customers care about

Deliver value only on dimensions that customers care about

Most markets are like the car market. Some people like bigger cars, others like efficient cars and then there are some who like premium cars. That is, markets aren’t homogeneous. They consist of different sets of people who value different aspects in a solution.

Because different segments value different aspects, an improvement in one aspect will only be appreciated by that segment and get ignored by everyone else in the market. For example, if the customers in a particular segment are price-insensitive, your discounts won’t work on them. In your mind, a discount should clearly work but for a certain segment of customers, it may actually decrease the appeal of your product for them. But, if a customer segment is price-sensitive, and you give them a clearly higher quality product at slightly higher prices, they may not care enough about the quality to make a switch from what they usually use.

Artificial general intelligence is risky by default

Artificial general intelligence is risky by default

Should we worry about AI?

Connor Leahy is an AI researcher at EleutherAI, a grass-roots collection of open-source AI researchers. Their current ambitious project is GPT-Neo, where they’re replicating currently closed-access GPT-3 to make it available to everyone.

Connor is deeply interested in the dangers posed by AI systems that don’t share human values and goals. I talked to Connor about AI misalignment and why it poses a potential existential risk for humanity.

All sophisticated solutions start extremely simple

All sophisticated solutions start extremely simple

There’s always a temptation to launch a fully built product with more features and capabilities than existing competitors. It’s exciting to build the next Google, the next iPhone or the next SpaceX, isn’t it?

This temptation is dangerous because even the most successful products in a market had simple beginnings. No product arrives in the market fully fleshed out. The company behind a successful product has developed its internal capabilities and know-how about various tiny but important details over a long period of time. On day 1, a startup simply cannot match such capabilities.  ...  Read the entire post →

Status: what drives us

Status: what drives us

How important is status-seeking?

Kunal Shah is the founder of CRED, a fintech company in India that’s raised over $225mn. Previously, he started and sold Freecharge, one of the few fintech companies in India with a successful exit.

He’s a philosophy graduate by education and today probably more people know him for his insights into human behavior and philosophy than for being a founder of two famous startups.

His fundamental belief is that we’re driven primarily by status and even though the idea sounds simple, it has many interesting consequences for society, economy, and individual satisfaction. ...  Read the entire post →

Reality is an evolved illusion

Reality is an evolved illusion

Do we see reality as it is?

I discuss this question with Donald Hoffman who is professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine. He studies consciousness and perception from an evolutionary point of view. His research has led him to make a bold claim that while we do not yet know what the underlying reality could be like. Rather, reality as we know it now - including space, time, and objects - is a useful fiction that evolution invented for us.

People don’t like using technology

People don’t like using technology

There’s an inherent tension between how an engineer sees the product under development and how a potential user sees it. Engineers get excited by the technological advances and configurability of the gadget. A user sees all such complexity as overwhelming and off-putting. It's easy for a creator to forget that the user has a life to live and using their product isn’t a highlight of her life. Rather, it’s likely a chore.

Most surgeries are ineffective

Most surgeries are ineffective

Do surgeries work? Most of us assume they do, but is there any scientific evidence that they do?

In this episode, I talk to Dr Ian Harris who is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He is a practicing orthopedic surgeon specializing in trauma surgery. Outside his practice, his research interests broadly cover the topic of surgical effectiveness and clinical research.