I’ve created a new page on Herd Immunity. The goal is to have a one-stop spot where you can look at assumptions about the Herd Immunity theory, and have them explained in pretty simple language. It’s now on its second version, and I have more upgrades I’m looking to add to it.
It’s really important to look at assumptions when we get excited about different theories, and so I hope this helps with that.
I also relate it to the current pandemic, COVID-19. I plan to continue developing the page over time, so feel free to post it as a link when people are in a conversation evaluating the concept. I hope this helps, and welcome your feedback.
I’m just logging these notes here to point back to it later. Here are some thoughts I’ve had for quite a while regarding the current pandemic.
In probability, a very useful concept is called conditional probability. It means what is the probability of something given that we know something else exists or has happened. It can be really useful as a thinking tool when we want to consider the probabilities of whether something is true or not. In many circumstances we don’t need perfect information or so-called ‘data’ in order to make decisions, especially decisions to be cautious. Some insight into probabilities can be enough. “Biodefense” — being able to protect humans against ‘enemy’ biology or chemistry, especially of the multiplicative and non-natural kind, has been on my mind for several years. I even discussed the idea of a startup to work on biodefense briefly with some friends at a major venture capital fund when we had dinner together in Panama many years ago. My main issue was that such a startup might actually increase the risk of biodefense situations and especially downside risk for those working there (me! if I did it), so I didn’t take the idea further.
Now we have the COVID-19 virus from Wuhan, China. It’s worth using the conditional probability concept to consider where the virus came from, in conjunction with another thinking tool, “Occam’s Razor”. We usually think of Occam’s Razor as meaning that “the simplest solution is most likely the right one”. Rather interestingly the actual principle is: “entities should not be multiplied without necessity”. Perhaps we can think of a virus entity that need not be multiplied.
We can consider the conditional probability that given that a pandemic comes out of China, what is the probability that it would come out of Wuhan, home of China’s only known biosafety level 4 facility. There are several other givens we can mix into our analyses of probabilities to later do an analysis of what is the probability that this virus was human-engineered or human-bred. Additional sample givens could include proximity of the Wuhan lab to the live animal market (if that market really was any factor) and known instances of lab workers selling lab animals to such markets instead of destroying them, reaction and behavior patterns of authority figures and government process to the proceedings of the awareness of the initial viral spread, etc. More items can be to compare the important unknown but gradually comparable parameters of the virus to other viruses in the past and consider why it is so different than them. Sample parameters can include the period of non-symptomatic contagion (how long people can be infecting others before they realize they might have it), contagiousness, length of delay til death, reinfection rate, etc.
My goal in this write-up is not to come to a conclusion nor to enumerate all of the possible givens to which we apply conditional probability and Occam’s Razor. It is more to present this form of analysis to the reader, so that they may employ it in their own analysis of this and other questions. In a simplified, brief analysis of this current pandemic without deep research, it does indicate to me a very significant baseline probability that the virus is human-engineered/enhanced or bred.
The Fintech panel at the KinnerLat conference 2019 in Panama featured Carlos Vega from Tesorio, Felipe Echandi from Cuanto, Raymond Katz from Adelantos, Luis Ruben from Yotepresto and Raquel Garcia from Credicorp.
A few choice quotes from Tesorio CEO Carlos Vega: building a startup early on and trying to find product-market fit is like “going around a corner that never ends”… It’s all about “speed of iterations and experiments”… After you hit product-market fit, “scaling outside of Silicon Valley is so much more cost-effective.”
Hi folks, I am Adrian Scott, founder of Freedom Stack. If you want to become a profitable investor or already are one and want to have a handy mobile app to make trades while managing risk, please take a moment and check out our new app, Zooch, at www.zooch.com.
On Friday at the America’s Blockchain Summit, we had a really great panel on the Future of Blockchain and got a lot of feedback from the audience about how they particularly appreciated the dynamics and liveliness of our panel.
thought I’d share a few details on things that went well, plus some
additional ideas I had afterwards, and I hope that this may help
other panel moderators and conference organizers.
a panel goes well, the audience really benefits from the expertise
and contrasting perspectives of the different panelists. They also
appreciate the energy of the interplay between the panelists, the
moderator and the audience, which can make the sessions a lot more
interesting than regular conference talks by just one person.
are a few tips that worked for us:
– Tip 1: Let the panelists do most of their personal intro’s rather than the moderator and start with that. Have them keep the intro’s brief but with enough content so that the audience understands why the panelists might have great advice and perspective to share.
Tip 2: Here’s an idea: for each panel you moderate, try out 2 ways to
engage the audience… One thing I did was ask for a show of hands of
which people are entrepreneurs or helping build a business or hope to
create a business in the future… Hint: that’s almost everybody in
many countries… and then I also asked for a show of hands for which
people were thinking about or trying to figure out how they might use
blockchain in their current or future business… again, that’s going
to be a high percentage at a blockchain conference… The neat thing
there is not just that people get to do a little physical exercise by
raising their hands — they also get to see that they have something
in common with the people around them. Now, a question to avoid: “How
many people own bitcoin?”, because that’s like asking who’s
carrying around $500 today?… A better option could be asking how
many people have created a bitcoin wallet or crypto exchange account.
Tip 3: If you think the audience might not understand what your
panelist is talking about, don’t hesitate, jump in, interrupt your
panelist and explain what’s going on. For example I jumped in a
couple of times during the panel. One time it was to mention what a
particular blockchain project was that a panelist was talking about,
because I knew that many folks in the audience did not know it. Your
panelists are experts and they may forget that not all of the
audience will understand the references that they make.
Tip 4: In preparing the panel, I came up with 4 main topics and
shared those with the panelists beforehand, and I think that worked
Tip 5: Preserve time for audience questions, and also try to set the
audience up to actually have some questions — it’s an important
metric on the success of the panel, and it’s also a sign that they
have been engaged in the experience. The conference organization may
have a monitor screen to show you how much time is left in the
session. You could clarify with them whether that number includes the
time left for audience questions or not.
Tip 6: During the panel, you can call on particular panelists to
answer a question or address a particular topic first, to make sure
there is a good balance between time and content amongst the
different panelists. Some may speak longer to explain a concept, and
different panelists can have different levels of expertise in the
points you’re addressing.
Tip 7: A couple of extra bonus points: How about having a slide
that’s on during the panel that includes the social media handles
and/or web sites for your panelists and moderator. That gives the
audience a way to continue the experience beyond the conference, and
also gives the panelists some marketing value. And here’s another
thought: You could also prepare an extra slide or two mentioning a
chart or trend that could be displayed during the panel for your
panelists to address. That will provide some extra visual variety for
the audience, adding another dimension to the experience.
I’d like to thank the panelists who joined me on Friday in making the panel a success, Rowan Stone from Horizen, Mark Jeffrey from Guardian Circle and Randy Hilarski from Aesop Social, and thank you to the organizer, David Proenza, his team and the audience at the Americas Blockchain Summit in Panama.
You may have heard that China has gone gaga over facial recognition technology. It appears in government areas — China now fingerprints and photographs all foreigners entering the country. And it appears in private locations — such as entering business buildings (hello, Alibaba).
But this latest one may take the cake.
In the Hangzhou train station bathroom, visitors need to stand in front of the camera for 3 seconds to get their face scanned in order to receive toilet paper.
I shit you not.
Cameras in bathrooms, not creepy a.f. Visit China, they said…
I regularly do “improv” — improvisation. Sometimes we rehearse and practice in a small group, sometimes I perform in public.
What is improv? Well, first of all, it’s not stand-up comedy. In fact, improv doesn’t even need to be comedy or make you laugh, even though a lot of improv scenes are quite funny. You can create an improvised work in any genre, including drama, musical, film noir, opera, etc.
Improv is a group of people creating and simultaneously acting out a story together without a script or plan. That group could just have one person in it also.
There are many great business benefits to it. It’s even said that unicorn Palantir gives out copies of Keith Johnstone’s book Impro to all new employees.
Here are key benefits for business people:
Improve your listening skills, something key to sales and teamwork. You need to keep track of the name of the other characters in the scene, references to other characters, what is going on and what is being said. It really helps you up your listening skills.
Improve your creativity and ability to shift course quickly — As you improvise a scene you may think it’s going in one direction, and then a teammate adds something new to the story that takes it in a whole new direction, and you have to be able discard your preconceived notions.
Improve ability to jump into any situation without fear — you quickly learn that it’s ok to fail or be imperfect, but you also learn techniques on how to succeed and create something from nothing. This can eliminate your fears and embarassment when you have to do something in public, because you can always rely on patterns and learnings from improv.
Here’s a Hat Game sketch we recorded last night, in Spanish. Each player is trying to take the hat off of the other person while still improvising a real scene. The first one to remove the hat ‘wins’ and at that time the scene ends. But what is winning and who really wins… and what happens when you’re improvising a scene while you are scheming to achieve that goal?
While I’m focused on building my new startup and its app, Zooch, I wanted to join the great tradition of publishing my angel investing ‘anti-portfolio’, the deals I turned down that went on to make it very big.
Fortunately I did invest in two startups that were acquired by publicly-traded companies (and quickly), which likely put me in top 10% VC performance returns for that time period.
PayPal, then known as Confinity, had a business model that didn’t make sense to me at all. It was all about money transfers via PalmPilots! They were even talking about installing PalmPilots at supermarket checkout counters so you could pay with your PalmPilot and PayPal when you bought groceries.
Fortunately, the team was able to pivot and discover product-market fit with payments over email (and web and Ebay) and execute amazingly well!
I knew Luke Nosek from the team from before PayPal and met the other founders and founding team members like Peter, Max and Ken early on. I served on their PayPal Developer Network Advisory Board when they set that up, as we used PayPal for subscriptions with Ryze.
I would pass on it again today due to the clearly unworkable business plan at that time, and my lack of knowledge of the leadership team’s excellence.
The other is an unforced error as I was planning to invest in Salesforce.com but did not reply in time for the offering I was planning to invest in. But the worst part is that I probably could have bought some stock later since I know and socialized with founder Marc Benioff. So this one was probably the biggest mistake and lesson.
The lesson: Be willing to hustle to get an allocation, especially if you have contacts at the firm you’d like to invest in. And also don’t be embarrassed about investing a small amount.