Venkatesh Rao Profile picture
24 Feb, 6 tweets, 2 min read
In the pilot of Futurama, Fry starts out complaining that he hates his life as a delivery boy but at the end when he’s landed in the future as a delivery boy on a spaceship, he’s all “yay!” about it.

That’s kinda how I feel about photos of rocks from other planets.
On the one hand it’s just rocks

On the other hand it’s rocks... on other worlds!

It’s kinda oddly satisfying to learn that other worlds are made of the same stuff

The differences are intellectually fascinating but the similarities are emotionally satisfying
Mercury is actually the hardest place to get to... needs high velocities and hard braking (all rocket like the moon since there’s no atmosphere for parachutes)

Venus is the most toxic place to operate. Kinda amazing how far the Soviets got with Venera missions.
I’d also like permanent underwater settlements on earth for the hell of it.
I doubt Mars is worth settling as is, but I for one am all for extreme terraforming experiments all the way to nukes and crashing asteroids. I’m betting 99% there won’t be even bacterial life for Perseverance to find, so it’s basically a spare blank planet for us to reformat.
I kinda don’t get people who don’t want to go places simply because you can. They exist on earth too. Lots of Americans who can afford international travel have so little interest they don’t even bother getting passports.

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More from @vgr

25 Feb
TIL that the reboots of Hawaii 5-0 (2010), MacGyver (2016), and Magnum P. I (2018) are part of the same fictional universe called Lenkov-verse and that is also connected to NCIS/JAG universe called Bellisario-verse. 🤔

All 3 shows are pretty bad.…
I’ll forgive some pretty bad plotting and character development for extended universes if they do good universe building but here it’s really bad and there’s not much universe building.
It’s like a mechanical and soulless procedural version of USA’s blue sky tv, which wasn’t really a shared universe but had a shared mood and much better shows (psych, monk, white collar, burn notice, royal pains)
Read 6 tweets
24 Feb
Median cost of common middle-class identity goods:

House: $270k
College education: $25k
New car: $20k* (guess)
Phone: $580**
Video game: $60
TV/movies/music: $50/mo
Novel: $10
News: $0

* mean is actually over 40k now 🤯
** also mean, but here reasonable to assume mean=median
Uncommon identity goods

Pickup truck/SUV: $50k?
Gun: $500 (median =1? mean is like 4, and 3% own most of them)
Gender reassignment surgery: $30k
Boat: $20k
Many medical conditions/disabilities could also be called identity goods, but out-of-scope for this comparison because the identity effect is incidental and presumably nobody would choose to have them, though I’m told many with conditions often refuse treatments seen as “fixing”
Read 12 tweets
24 Feb
Poll: How has your opinion of management consultants changed — or not — over the last decade (2010-20)?

For calibration, set “high” at the median of all information workers.
🤣 I’m already the bad guy
Cognitive dissonance of this poll I guess is that people voting by definition follow me. You all either don’t know, or studiously ignore, what I am.
Read 4 tweets
23 Feb
Clubhouse people are rapidly approaching Scientology/Amway levels... 😟

Be careful people.
There’s something off about the user acquisition UI if someone like me gets invited dozens of times despite not wanting to join as an entirely personal preference but interested people far from SV still have to scrounge for invites.
As a vegetarian this feels a bit like meat-eating friends constantly bugging me to go to a steakhouse with no good options for me on the menu (which has never happened).
Read 11 tweets
22 Feb
there are no general intelligences
Yes, but....

The greatest failure of AI discourse has probably been the failure to distinguish clearly between Turing completeness and universal function approximation on the one hand, and intelligence on the other.

Minecraft though... the right kind of mental model. I’ve always thought Von Neumann’s Universal Constructor (self-replicating cellular automaton equivalent to Turing completeness) is a much better mental model because it foregrounds a) reproduction b) randomness…
Read 18 tweets
21 Feb
After accounting for downtime, context switching time, recovery time, maintenance time, leisure, chores, only about 3-4 hours a day are available to “do stuff.” Assuming 8h sleep, wakefulness is only about 25% efficient relative to any active life mission. Worse than IC engines.
I suspect a cartoonishly optimized life could hit maybe 60-70% for very tightly scoped life missions, like number theory or piano playing.
But 3-4h is still better than the effectively 0 hours median in pre-modern life. Life that’s basically all chores and it was a weird thing for life to have a purpose beyond “surviving.”
Read 4 tweets

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