Follow Your Heart

Steve Jobs’ Commencement address at Stanford University on June 12, 2005.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”


There is some magic in following one’s heart. The heart works like an all-knowing chip embedded in all of us. It might get very noisy sometimes, but it is important to have the courage to follow one’s heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary. Indeed.

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Why I’m long Ethereum (and short Bitcoin)

Response to Why I’m short Ethereum (and long Bitcoin)

Ethereum’s ambition

Ethereum is not Bitcoin 2.0 – it is much more than that. Imagine building The Matrix. Lots of moving parts, and tonnes of effort to get there. If you focus on the attacks and other challenges, you are completely missing the big picture – Ethereum looks, sounds, and works too much like the future. Read up the Ethereum use cases – don’t you feel like you are getting a good peek into the future? Would any of us want to bet against something that is SO close to how we all think the future will look like?

Computer network trade-offs

The author states “It prioritizes flexibility and, I argue, compromises on security, speed, and even cost” – totally incorrect. Let us get into this in more detail.

Flexibility – In summary, if you think Turing completeness is NOT the future, we actually have very little to discuss.

From the article – “The way Ethereum creates this adaptability and flexibility is in four ways: radical openness, multiple implementations, multiple contract specification languages, and institutionally endorsed hard-forks.” – All these characteristics of Ethereum – radical openness, multiple implementations and multiple contract specification languages are actually great things. That last point – institutionally endorsed hard-forks – that one is debatable. That too, for a subset of decisions. More on this point, later.

The article also questions Ethereum’s Security. Here is a fact: There have been ZERO security related attacks on Ethereum – all ‘hacks’ are not security flaws. The DAO hack was basically someone exploiting a badly written contract. The current issues are all DOS attacks. Ethereum arguably is the most secure crypto network out there. Try challenging this.

From the article – “First, the founders chose the opposite approach from Bitcoin’s scripting system by pursuing Turing Completeness; in other words, by setting absolutely no restrictions on which type of code can be published and executed on the blockchain.”

Diverse clients and Turing completeness are such no-brainers for a global computing network, we don’t even want to respond. The network is P2P for a reason, and that reason is not that all peers will look the same. Diverse clients adds to the resilience of the network. It is actually as simple as that. For a global Supercomputer like Ethereum, why would you introduce a single point of failure?

Again, this one – “It’s my view that the multiplicity of implementations, in absence of a unambiguous specification, will lead to more problems down the road.” –

Well, where exactly is the ambiguity? Seriously, which part of the Ethereum specification is ambiguous? If you remove the part around “unambiguous specification”, the author’s sentence reads as “It’s my view that the multiplicity of implementations will lead to more problems down the road” – Really? In a decentralized network?

Hard forks – From the article – “Ethereum’s pro hard-fork stance has probably garnered the most controversy?—?I think for good reason” – this is the only point that demands a serious response. Thankfully, Fred already did.. One-line summary: “adaptability is more important than immutability”. But like we said, this one is debatable.

But the author loses the plot here as well – “Finally, a fourth way in which Ethereum promotes adaptability and flexibility is by hard-forking the chain for security or scalability purposes” – the hard fork was NOT done to address security or scalability. The hard fork is a solid discussion point, but not because of these reasons. Bring up the “too big to fail” argument and maybe we have a debate at hand.

Summary: Ethereum looks, sounds, and works too much like the future. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.Rome turned out to be beautiful. To build Ethereum, folks are laying bricks every minute. Ethereum will be beautiful too!

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Business Intelligence? We Still Live In A Stupid World.

I lost my credit card last week – and am just too lazy to call them up and ask them to send me a new card. But here is the thing – the card has had no transactions in the past 2 weeks – not one transaction – and with all the noise around big data and pattern based transaction analytics and prediction and stuff, nobody has called me from the bank asking “we noticed a sudden pause in your card usage – have you lost your card?” – they just lost hundreds of dollars worth of transactions from me (i am just using a card from a different bank) and I am just one of their few million cardmembers.

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How Badly Do You Want Your Thing To Exist In The World?

Here is one criteria that is an absolute predictor of success – how badly do you want your thing to exist in the world? If you really, really want it to exist – it will exist, regardless of everything else. It is a loaded question – it tests your core belief that lead to your concept, and is in a way the only thing that will keep you going in the face of constraints and ‘No’s. It is the one thing that helps you build believers. It is the one thing that would ultimately differentiate you from the also-rans. It did – it is the reason why Google, Amazon and Facebook exist in the world and countless others do not.

How Badly Do You Want Your Thing To Exist In The World? If your answer is ‘very badly’ you are on the right track. If your answer is ‘I will bring it to existence no matter what’ you are almost there.

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Google, We Are Not Feeling Lucky

Or Playful, or Doodley, or Hungry. Isn’t it high time Google killed the ‘I’m feeling Lucky’ button leaving just one button called ‘Search’ on their homepage?

PG mentioned in a recent talk that he is really scared of Google’s homepage these days – so much Javascript you never know what’s going to happen next. “I feel like I am being A/B tested on” is what he said.

Google, here is a starting point to address such concerns. We are not feeling lucky. Just take that button away.

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‘Do Not Make Success Inconsequential’

This gem is from Vinod Khosla: It is a very good idea to place huge bets on projects, as long as the successful scenario is ‘worth it’. The mistake that most VCs and entrepreneurs do, is that they eliminate risk so much, that in the process, they reduce the ‘impact’ of the project. This reduces the consequences of success greatly – in other words, success becomes inconsequential. Not a preferred outcome.

In executing a black swan opportunity, do not turn it into grey or white. Sums it up.

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When Everyone Wants To Buy And Nobody Wants To Sell..

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Which Is The Most Watched TV Broadcast In The World Ever?

We had spotted the most tweeted event in the world – one question that we always wanted to find out the answer for, was this – which is the most watched TV event, ever? must be some sports event – how about a superbowl – or, going by the popularity of cricket in the world’s second most populous country, India, could it be a cricket match? We spotted this today:

“Estimates for the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony global TV viewership varied between one and four billion, including an estimated 842 million viewers watching on host Chinese broadcaster China Central Television.A verifiable audience of 984 million tuned in to the opening ceremony at some stage, averaging at 593 million, while 778 million watched the closing ceremony.The 2008 Summer Olympics is the current record holder for a multi-day broadcast. It is estimated by Nielsen Media Research that up to 4.7 billion individual viewers (70% of the world’s population) watched some part of the coverage.”

Statistics Source: Wikipedia

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Is Poker A Game Of Skill Or Chance?

[This post is a response to the paper “THE ROLE OF SKILL VERSUS LUCK IN POKER: EVIDENCE FROM THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER” by Steven D. Levitt (Freakanomics author) and Thomas J. Miles.

So is Poker a game of skill or chance?

For those of us who have tried the game, the answer seems to be clear – it is a combination of skill and chance. But here is the thing – what in life, isn’t? That helps us rephrase the question – like so many things in life, is Poker just another test of skill, with chance playing a huge role as well?

The first time we came across a convincing argument that Poker is NOT a game of chance was this:

“Yet perhaps the clearest argument in favour of poker being skill- rather than chance-dependent comes from Mr Sklansky, and it has to do with losing rather than winning. Imagine trying intentionally to lose at a game of pure chance, like roulette or baccarat. It would be impossible. At the beginning of a deal or a roll you have to bet on something. You can no more deliberately play badly than you can deliberately play well. The same is not true for poker, which offers multiple opportunities to make sure you lose.”

Source: The Economist, A special report on gambling – At war with luck – Is poker a game of skill or chance?

We were convinced with that logic – of course you cannot play Roulette to lose, and hence Poker is definitely a game of skill.

But here is the thing – You can actually play Roulette, or for that matter, Craps to lose. Thats the whole house advantage thing. The fact is,no matter how you play, for every roll of the dice or for every spin in roulette, you stand to lose.
In fact there is not a single game inside a casino that you cannot play to lose, and that includes Poker.

So that argument from the Economist went out of the window. Now we have this new working paper, that argues, based on WSOP data, that Skill plays a more important role than Chance in Poker.

The premise of the paper is very simple – skilled players (ranked before the tournament) performed better in the tournament than others. So skill has a big role to play, right? Here is the summary from the paper:

“Using newly available data, we analyze that question by examining the performance in the 2010 World Series of Poker of a group of poker players identified as being highly skilled prior to the start of the events. Those players identified a priori as being highly skilled achieved an average return on investment of over 30 percent, compared to a -15 percent for all other players. This large gap in returns is strong evidence in support of the idea that poker is a game of skill.”

What is the flaw in this argument? Remember the concluding paragraph from our post “Roulette: After 3 Reds, Do You Pick Red Or Black?“:

“A person believing in the “law of small numbers” thinks that small samples should “look like” the parent distribution, i.e. that the sample should be representative of the parent distribution. Thus, the person believes that out of, say, 6 spins 3 should be red and 3 should be black (ignoring green). If observed outcomes in the small sample differ from the 50:50 ratio, immediate reversal is expected. Thus, somebody observing 2 times red in 6 consecutive spins believes that black is “due” on the 3rd spin to restore the 50:50 ratio.”

Think about it – we all believe in the law of small numbers one way or the other. In all fields. We are just being stupid.”

That exactly is the issue here – do the analysis with, say 1000 WSOP data, and you are still talking about small numbers. For a conclusion as big as this.

Let us close with Forrest Gump then. Life, like Poker, is a box of chocolates.You never know what you’re gonna get.

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$500 Million Gambled Away In Indo-Pak World Cup Semi-Final

We spotted this stat today:

“The money gambled on cricket now is astronomical, and if former International Cricket Council (ICC) CEO Malcolm Speed is to be believed, at least 500 million dollars was gambled away during the recent World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan in Mohali , India. ”

Statistics Source: Economic Times

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