77 karmaJoined Jul 2021


Thank you for sharing this insightful framework - I find it very helpful to get an overview of the field. 

The goal of my comment is to initiate a process of making the framework more accessible, particularly by sorting/ranking the two axes. Epistemic status: a non-expert guessing , mainly from structured thinking process (<20min) - hence, good chance I am fundamentally wrong, esp. on "B)". 

A) On the x-axis/columns/tech areas

Would it make sense to rank them in order of the "risk chain"? Something like

  1. Monitoring (”is there something harmful?”)
  2. Diagnostics (”what exactly is it?”)
  3. Barriers (”how can we physically block it?”)
  4. Prophylactics (”how can we medically/biologically/chemically block it?”)
  5. Therapeutics (”how can we cure it?”)
  6. Forensics (”where did it come from?”)


B) On the y-axis/rows/tech dev goals - very uncertain about this

Can we find a way to rank/sort them along a line of 'what enables what'? Something like

  1. "Robust" seems a baseline enabler for all others, i.e., we want all technologies that scale (cheap, fast and general) to be robust in the first place, or can we scale a non-robust technology?
  2. "General" seems to be a good lead indicator for "scalable", i.e., given it's robust, if a technology is also generalizable, it is more/very likely to scale?
  3. "Cheap" and "fast" seem a) correlated and b) results/lagging indicators from being (robust, generalizable and) scalable

So there might be a case for a dummy like me to say: we first and foremost, focus on  "robust", then see if "generalizable", then if "scalable", and then "cheap" and "fast" are likely to follow. 


Would love to hear/read feedback on this!

Not sure if b) is correct. If FTXFF is in fact separate from FTX, giving the money back (to FTXFF) would not mean giving it back to the donor (FTX) but rather to the foundation managers / bank accounts. What this would then mean remains a big question, as the whole leadership resigned.

But still, yes, the money will most likely not end up in the wallets of traders.

Just wanted to share a short and rough draft version of my notes (not transcript), as it might save some people time. 

I'm moderately confident that it covers 80% of the video's content, but am quite sure that it misses one or two important points and details. 


How to innovate on purpose

  • It’s not useful to think it requires being a genius (Einstein)
  • It’s not useful to think it’s about luck (wonderful idea from within the bathtub)


Innovative ideas need to be ...

a) ... impossible until now

I.e. looking at existing technology and thinking about using it in new ways; e.g. Machine Learning applied to cars → Google self-driving cars


  • Learn promising technology very well
  • Ask the question: "What industries has this technology not been applied to yet?"


b) ... undiscoverable to others

I.e. find out what multiple topics / things you know, and thereby realising your potentially unique overlaps; e.g. programming language design + cloud computing → developing programming language specifically designed for cloud computing


  • Pick two unrelated topics you know a lot about
  • Ask the question: “What does combining them make possible?”


c) ... stupid sounding

I.e. find the overlap between ideas that seem like a bad and a good idea at the same time, because you know some secret that makes the stupid idea seem like a good one; e.g., “let’s have anonymous random people argue to decide the facts on every topic” and “let’s have everyone trust this information” → Wikipedia


  • Ask the question: “What's an important truth you know that few do?”
  • Ask the question: “What seems dumb unless you know this truth?


d) ... tiny at first

I.e. find the overlap between things people care about and weird people like you care about; e.g. “people can’t easily find Bay Area events, I will send an email list to my friends” and “I will let other people post their events too” → Craigslist


  • Tackle a problem had by a small group you understand
  • Slowly expand the features for a larger and larger group


Entrepreneurial success depends on:

  • Quality of idea
  • Time commitment
  • Ability to build the product
  • Propensity to learn from feedback
  • Skill at securing funds
  • Relentless pursuit of success
  • Sales and marketing skills
  • Leadership
  • Random chance

Awesome list, thank you for sharing!

Is there any further research on those project ideas, eg comparing the ideas in terms of size, tractability and neglectedness?

Posting as an individual who is a consultant, not on behalf of my employer

To complement:

I think the discussion would benefit from a more clear distinction between research on the one hand and (strategy) consulting on the other.
Of course, research is often part of a consulting project, but there is a different skillset required in order to a) perform diligent quant. / qual. reserach, or b) strategically steer decisions and projects.

From the discussion and RP's positioning, I observe that there definitely is a need for a) research.

I would be interested in how much there is a need for b) (strategy) consulting. Below is a list my (bold) hypotheses of potential projects that might be interesting to EA-aligned organisations:

- Developing a marketing strategy for NGOs
- Developing a recruitment strategy for NGOs
- Optimizing cost structure of NGOs
- Project management
- Influencing senior decision makers / policy makers
- Facilitating workshops

I would highly appreciate if you could falsify  / verify the need for these types of projects, or complement the list as you see fit - thank you!