From 2006 to 2009, I worked primarily in the SEO and Reputation Management division of Visible Technologies. Another big division of the company did Social Media Analytics. Basically, we were forerunners to the companies talked about in this article – the ones that provided Peter Thiel, Steve Bannon, and others the data and capabilities to swing voters opinions with well placed lies, fake news, and exaggerations that play on their fears. I am now seeing a lot of techniques we used twisted for very nefarious ends (papering Google search results with Holocaust denier propaganda, fake hit pieces on opposing politicians, etc.) At Visible, we used ORM to build up lots of fake search results about various billionaires philanthropy in order to bury their misdeeds. I had some concerns about the ethics back then, but told myself we just were doing what any PR firm does – help tell the other side of a clients story. I am now very concerned that I am seeing outright lies and crazy manipulations being promoted on a daily basis.
What is really scary to me is seeing a lot of my own friends and people I respect here on Facebook who have been sucked in by the lies. We are living in very dangerous times now.
Diseases like cancer, heart disease, and dementia are really just symptoms of aging. They almost entirely afflict our elders. Instead of trying to fix one disease when ten other diseases are right behind it to kill one of our elderly, I’d like to face the problem of aging itself head on.
Our society loses a huge amount of wisdom and talent to the ravages of aging – just as has happened for all of human history.
In some ways, aging and death may be beneficial and necessary. In the living body, cells are regularly programmed to die to make room for new ones. Perhaps that is important for evolutionary reasons to happen in human society too?
I would like to do an Elon Musk style massive push to try to understand what causes aging and if there is anything that can be done to stop it. If I can build Coalition large enough, that would be my next project.
There are a few business models that are ubiquitous and rip people off quite frequently. Whenever I detect one of these, my suspicions rise:
- Multi level marketing (MLMs) – Herbalife and hundreds of others
- Affiliate marketing
- Advice businesses… “Here’s how to make a quick buck”
Carolyn and I climbed the following (me leading):
- Mass Production – 5.9 / 5.10a
- Worker Bee – 5.10a
- Industrial Bliss – 5.10a
- Some Assembly Required 5.10c (struggled here on lead – would like to try undercling part again)
Imagine walking into a vast room, set up sort of like the Imperial Senate in Star Wars:
The room stretches away further than the eye can see. There are millions of seats surrounding the central podium in every direction, each occupied by someone staring down at the current speaker.
This is my philosophy. Every human being changes a little bit every day, sometimes we change a lot. Through the course of a lifetime, we can recognize unique people. For myself, the person I am today is very different than the person I was at 23, and the person I was at 23 was very different than the 17 year old, who was very different from the 13 year old, who was very different from the 10 year old. I think that even day to day we are different people, just very slightly changed. Even inside of the same day, we are different by a tiny amount. It is an illusion our brains create that there is continuity of consciousness. Scientists have run experiments suppressing certain parts of the brain and what happens is people have many different voices from different parts of their brain at different times all competing.
All of the seats are occupied by different versions of myself. Countless past versions of myself that have had their time in the sun all watch down on the Joel of the present at the center of the stage. There are other versions of myself who are yet to be – these are enormous in numbers as there are many branching possibilities and opportunities open for different versions of me to come about. For example, there’s the potential versions of Joel who start drinking heavily and doing drugs every day till they die a few years down the line. There are the potential versions of Joel that work 16 hours a day every day for fifty years and make every lucky decision possible and build the largest company on the planet. And there are countless version in between including ones who die in a car accident tomorrow.
The person who is the Joel of the present is not just doing his own thing… he has responsibility to the millions of different people that were the past Joels (some of who sacrificed for the future, some of who were hedonistic in their presents). The Joel of the present also has responsibility to the future versions of Joel. Every decision I make today will close off doors and pathways that could have happened.
My philosophy is that when I make good decisions in the present that make past Joels proud and provide for a better life for future Joels, there is a massive arena filled with very happy and very proud Joels cheering me on. When I make bad decisions, there are countless Joels who are disappointed.
My goal is to do things that lead to a good life, balancing family, work, colleagues, lifelong learning, and things like that.
“There is a ripeness of time for death, regarding others as well as ourselves, when it is reasonable we should drop off, and make room for another growth. When we have lived our generation out, we should not wish to encroach on another.”
There is a very popular idea being pushed in America right now that success is really just being lucky. The idea claims that LeBron James was just lucky he has his genes… Not that he trained hard every day for a lifetime. The idea also claims a successful entrepreneur just got lucky to have perfect circumstances to lead to where they are.
I think this idea is clearly false. But I can debate that another day.
The question I wonder is what is the motivation of people pushing this idea? I have a feeling it is people who have failed in life not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. Or worse – it’s people who want to take from those who are successful and need a justification for their theft…
Krista filled Ben’s office with balloons for his birthday.
Smartphones are incredibly addictive. I played a game with Laurel on the freeway when we went on a longer road trip a few weeks ago: Look in each car and see if the driver is on his phone.
Shockingly, probably 1 in every 3 drivers we saw driving on the freeway had their phone in one hand with the screen on and would check it frequently. When we hit slowdowns, probably 1 in every 2 LA drivers had their phone in their hands.
Smartphones and the apps on them like Facebook, Snap, Instagram, Pinterest, the games, etc are all getting more and more addictive all the time.
Traffic deaths have spiked because of smartphones and I think traffic deaths will continue to escalate rapidly until fully self driving cars are here.