A call to arms for software developers to help address some of society’s ills through more accessible computer programming

To my fellow software engineers:

Like many of you, I watched in horror the events that took place on January 6th, 2021 at the US Capitol building. On the one hand, it was a truly sad day for both America and the world. To see a symbol of hope and ideals desecrated by a mob of hooligans more interested in snapping a selfie than understanding what they were doing was the exact opposite of the principles and ideals that they supposedly held dear. …

Photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta on Unsplash

How two of society’s most prestigious institutions should address their uncertain futures

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” — Rahm Emanuel (ex-Chief of Staff to President Obama)

As the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc to business models everywhere, even two of the world’s most prestigious institutions — universities and hospitals — are having to rethink how they do business.

Three months ago, no one would have thought the future of hospitals and universities were in jeopardy. In fact, they probably looked as strong as ever. But the pandemic has completely altered that reality.

Universities, by shifting all of their classes to online-only, are struggling to convince their students — or…

Or how to use data to look for potential

I recently came across a blurb about BarkBox’s product strategy for Amazon and found it quite interesting. They were considering launching a new set of products on Amazon, so they set up an internal team to analyze the “pet” category on Amazon. The analysis looked for products that were high volume and high margin and then used machine learning to go through the reviews looking for opportunities. As their CEO was quoted as saying, they basically tried to “reverse engineer” the listings on Amazon to figure out what products they should create and launch on the platform.

“The idea was…

What if the popular millennial trading app added index funds?

One product idea that I have been thinking a lot about is the idea of updating index funds. Index funds have had a massive impact on how people invest their money today¹. But they’ve largely gone unchanged since they were created in the 1970s. So I’ve been trying to think what Index Funds 2.0 might look like.

Taking the idea of tapping into the Wisdom of the Crowds like Kaggle has done with machine learning and data science, I thought it might be interesting to do this with index funds. Could the crowds generate better results than existing institutional index…

with Monte Carlo Simulations and Poker

Photo by Rob Schreckhise on Unsplash

One of the things I’m interested in exploring is how to use computers to augment my thinking. What I mean by that personally is how can I leverage what a computer does much better than me (scalable, fast, and accurate calculations that can run in parallel 24/7) to help me make better decisions and understand the world more accurately.

One technique that matches this criteria that I have repeatedly come across in varying fields such as biology and finance is called Monte Carlo simulation. If you’re not familiar with Monte Carlo simulation, the basic idea is that you create a…

Hosting a new World’s Fair in America may be just what the doctor ordered

Picture from the 1964 New York World’s Fair (Wikipedia)

Why a World’s Fair?

The last World’s Fair hosted on US soil was the 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair. A reasonable question may be asked then why after almost 35 years would we want to host another one? Isn’t the World’s Fair a relic of the past? Isn’t a World’s Fair a financial disaster? Afterall, the 1984 fair was the only World’s Fair to file for bankruptcy while it was still operating. Not to mention previous American World’s Fairs that had similar financial woes like the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair. So why a World’s Fair? …

Technology is giving us the ability to create a custom web experience for everyone

What if websites and apps gave you a completely personalized experience, unique to just you? I don’t mean only recommending what movie to watch next but providing completely customized layout, styles, and interactions based on your unique preferences. One where no two people going to the same website would have the same experience.

The way most websites and apps work today is that they generally give all their users the exact same experience. The particular content might change from user to user — for example, my Netflix recommendations are different from yours — but overall, your experience on Netflix is…

America needs to come together and get excited about the future again. I think a World’s Fair might be a great opportunity to do just that.

What happened to the moonshot mentality? When did America become the country that looked at the past with fondness but the future with trepidation?

America is the land of opportunity and optimism. It is the country that others believed had roads paved of gold. Yet, if you ask people in the country today what they think about the future, you’d likely hear a lot of pessimism.

It’s not hard to understand. The turn of the 21st century started with the technology industry crashing. Then the country suffered its largest recession since the Great Depression. …

A place to seek out and provide opposing views

It’s no secret that today’s social media networks leave a lot to be desired. Everyone feels cheated. The promise of social networks was that they were these great places that had no barriers or borders and allowed us to connect, share and learn with anyone in the world. Instead, we’ve ended up with echo chambers that feel more like going to our favorite team’s stadium where all the home team fans gang up to berate the lone away team fan and where half of the fans are bots.

That’s why I decided to create a place where people could break…

Something that I’ve been thinking about recently is the tussle between decentralized organizations, where there is no clear authority but rather every participant is on their own, and centralized organizations, where there is a clear authority in charge. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that human created systems almost always end up centralized.

Decentralization is the more natural organization structure. If you look at nature, you’ll see what I mean. Evolution shows that everything we see in the world was created without a central authority[1]. …

Alex Meyer

Attempting to put my dent in the universe.

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