About

Manifesto

Intro

Hi there, I’m Daesol, a strategy manager at an AI start-up based in Sydney, Australia. Prior, I worked in management consulting and served in various national director roles at a social enterprise. Academic background is engineering. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

2020 reading

Unlike most that write, I’m not really an expert in anything. I’m just a guy that’s curious about how the world works. So this blog is more like a student sharing their study notes, rather than a teacher that knows something back to front.

 

Maybe my obsession could add value to the world

So I spend maybe 5 hours a day: reading books and essays, watching documentaries and explainer videos, listening to audiobooks and the occasional podcast, listening to and discussing ideas with people, writing, and occasionally publishing them.

This usually revolves around these guiding questions:

  • What is the nature of reality? Is there an ultimate objective truth?
  • How does the world work? How did it work? How will it most likely work?
  • How should the world work? How can I contribute to this?
  • What’s the ultimate purpose of life? Of consciousness? Of existence?
  • What is a good life? What do I really care about? How does one go about it?

At first, this obsessive learning was a means to an end – to be better at work. To live a better life.

But now, it’s become an end in itself. I do all this predominantly for fun.

Rather recently though, I realised that maybe I could share some of what I’ve learned and add value to the world in this way. Share some of the most fascinating concepts I come across. Distill more complex, technical, and esoteric ideas into a more accessible and simple format. Etc.

It also occurred to me that writing also pushes me to understand things deeply. It’s a powerful way to call out my own bullshit and have others challenge me. Because ultimately I care more about getting it right than being right.

 

How I see the world

Everything is connected to everything.

  • Let’s start with physical reality. The ground truth is physics. Everything is matter, energy, information, and time. The fundamentals.
  • Down another level there’s metaphysics. Mathematics. Logic. Ontology. I’d argue there’s even another level below that: meta-metaphysics, the logic of logic, Godelian loops, paradoxes etc. Is space-time a loop? Some clever tricks on the boundary conditions? Trippy. Let’s leave that there for now.
  • The method of scientific inquiry is a useful way to understand reality, but one must also be weary of its limitations.
  • Move up the scale on a physical size dimension from physics you get the other sciences, including biology. From DNA to protein to cell to multi-cellular to colonial organisms.
  • From biology, we’re particularly interested in human biology. And beyond mere anatomy and physiology, the psyche and interactions of humans is of particular interest. Okay this is neuroscience, psychology, and the human condition.
  • Psychology explains the ‘what’ of human behaviour. Neuroscience better explains the how and why of human behaviour.
  • But neuroscience is insufficient because of the emergent properties of complex systems. When many people come together, their behaviour, and patterns keep changing. This is where sociology is helpful. The subtle and not-so-subtle social forces that influence the world.
  • Then there’s also more artistic / beauty dimension to the human condition. Subjective experiences. More concerned with beauty rather than objective scientific truth. This is why I started appreciating art a lot more. It expresses other types of truths that other formats just can’t do.
  • Another aspect of being human is the art of living a good life. Self-development. Mindfulness. Love and relationships. Career. Adventures, and having sustainable fun.
  • Back to science. Science is great, but it’s only great once it’s converted into an application and put to good use. This is technology. And engineering is what closes that gap. Must of the problems in the world are actually engineering problems, rather than science ones.
  • I’ve always thought that the potent force that pushes humanity forward is technology. This is why I studied biomedical engineering. But my more recent view is it’s not enough. Much of what brings tech into benefit are businesses. Capital is needed for engineering problems to be solved.
  • Business is the creation and capture of value. This is what sparked my interest in business. In my opinion, business problems are more complex and multivariate than technical problems. Not necessarily more difficult, just a lot more components to it.
  • Then I realized, wait a minute, a business is just a bunch of people. People are the terminal units of a business. I realized this in early university years: “I’m an engineering student now, and I’m not really great with people. What’s the best way I can learn more and get better at this?” Answer I landed on was “give in order to receive.” Join a not-for-profit. Be surrounded by people that want to do good for the world, and solve social and business problems with them.
  • But the other aspect of business is the ecosystem of businesses. The economy. Okay, it’s important to know more about economics.
  • Then there’s the fascinating world of finance. The oil that lubricates the gears. The mechanism by which our finite resources are allocated to maximize value.
  • But all of this ties closely with policy. Politics. Geopolitics.
  • Okay but to understand politics, one needs to understand history. Across lots of timescales, and geographical areas, and aspects of history too.
  • And as you can, the list just goes on and on. It never stops.

This is why I find it fascinating to view everything with a complexity science lens. Things are connected. Disciplinary boundaries are arbitrary. Emergent properties means that understanding the parts won’t guarantee you understand the whole when you put it together. There are limits to scientific reductionism. Having said that, there’s still much to benefit from analyzing the component pieces, breaking them apart, then stitching them together again.

Neurabites is notes from a complexity student.

I see everything as part of a giant hairball. Each node (dot/circle) represents a discipline. Each link represents a connection between disciplines. Two disciplines with more ideas in common will have more links. The size of each node represents the the number of connections that discipline has. So, the larger circles are the disciplines that are more connected. The thickness of each link represents the strength of connection. By stronger connection, I mean more ideas are shared between disciplines. The number of nodes between disciplines represents the degree of separation. So, conceptually distant disciplines will have more nodes between them to get from one to the other. And to top that off, each node we see at one scale is another network in itself when we zoom in. It’s fractal.

Neurabites?

Snacks for the brain. An apologetically cheesy metaphor, yes. Forgive me, I’m going to extend it.

We’re exposed to, and consume so much information every day. But so much of it is garbage. Much like the abundant sugary, processed, synthetic junk that’s strategically placed in a supermarket to tempt you into buying. The healthier stuff is usually more expensive, takes more time to prepare, and tastes more bland.

Neurabites is like turning greens into a convenient smoothie. Vitamin supplements. Fruit that’s been washed, cut up, and ready to serve. And every now and then, bitter medicine.

I invite you to join me 🙂

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