After On Podcast #44 Naval Ravikant Part 1 | End Games

Full podcast here.

  • Brief bio for Naval: When I got to Silicon Valley I started working for a little ISP called @ Home Networks. Then I helped start a company that made linearized optical amplifiers. Then I helped do the same thing with the 3D graphics team that eventually created Google Earth. Then I started Epinions, which went public as part of Shopping.com.

  • The precursor to Angel List: In 2007 I started a blog with Babak Nivi called Venture Hacks. We were laying bare the game theory of venture capital to entrepreneurs who were raising money. After investing in a whole bunch of companies, I took the list of investors that I worked with and opened it up as a public resource. I said, “I’m going to share all my deal flow with you. Feel free to share back.”

  • Today Angel List is a platform. You can do financings completely online through Syndicates. It is the largest driver of capital into the seed stage financing marketplace. We run the largest recruiting site for startups at AngelList Talent. We have Product Hunt where people launch their products online.

  • The arc of history is giving more and more power to the individual. This is great for individual liberties and freedom, but not so good when it comes to blowing things up. It’s just the nature of the Faustian bargain with technology that we get so much more power over our natural environment. That power includes the ability to destroy things and the destructive power arrives long before the protective powers do.

  • Amara’s Law: We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run

  • Destructive technology is spreading. It is getting easier and easier. What do we do about that? 

  • Whose bread I eat, his song I sing. – Charlie Munger

  • The asymmetry between the destructive power and the protective technology in this particular case [drones] is pretty strongly in favor of the aggressor. –Rob Reid

  • On the nuclear side, we forget, after the war was over, how many of the scientists were absolutely horrified. Many of them had huge regrets over what they’ve done. Including Einstein. So far their fears have been unrealized. That is because nuclear weapons are still hard to build. But that is not true of the new class of emerging technologies. 

  • There’s a famous thought experiment called AI Box. The AI is in some kind of box/cage and it can’t get out. The problem is if the AI could communicate with you - which it would be able to - it can always get out of the box. It would offer you everything you ever wanted. And if you refused it would resort to threats of violence. And finally, it will make this same offer to every other human alive. So now you are not just betting against the AI, you’re betting that all of humanity will hold the line. Someone is going to give in. 

  • I do think it [general AI] is improbable in the next 50 or 100 years. I think we are overestimating our ability to simulate the human brain. Most of the approaches today tries to simulate the brain, neuron for neuron. But that assumes that there is not any computation going on below the neuron level. I would argue that there’s computation going on at the cellular level, at an atomic level, at the quantum level. Nature doesn’t waste space, it’s very efficient. 

  • There are no experts on creating artificial general intelligence. It’s never been done. There are not experts on some hallowed ground where other smart physicists, scientists, mathematicians etc can’t play. So we can’t just blindly follow them off a cliff. [This is probably why there is always opportunities for entrepreneurs.]

  • If you build something smarter than you, why would it care about you as anything other than a pet? We have out evolved every other creature on this planet. And you can see what we have done to them to get an idea of what they’ll do to us. 

  • I have an app on my phone that does facial recognition. It has not failed once. I use it at parties all the time. It always identifies a person without fail. I would say physical privacy is dead. [The app is in closed beta.] 

  • Rick and Morty is my favorite TV show. You realize when you have advanced technology, you destroy the universe on a regular basis! 

  • We have to remember the nation-states have routinely engaged in bioweapons research in complete contravention of international laws. Joseph Stalin famously said, “The UN? How many divisions do they have?” He meant tank divisions. International law, unfortunately, has no real force on these issues.