How To Be Successful


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I’ve observed thousands of founders and thought a lot about what it takes to make a huge amount of money or to create something important. Usually, people start off wanting the former and end up wanting the latter.

Here are 13 thoughts about how to achieve such outlier success. Everything here is easier to do once you’ve already reached a baseline degree of success (through privilege or effort) and want to put in the work to turn that into outlier success. [1] But much of it applies to anyone.

1. Compound yourself

Compounding is magic. Look for it everywhere. Exponential curves are the key to wealth generation.

A medium-sized business that grows 50% in value every year becomes huge in a very short amount of time. Few businesses in the world have true network effects and extreme scalability. But with technology, more and more will.  It’s worth a lot of Continue reading “How To Be Successful”

Reinforcement Learning Progress


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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Today, OpenAI released a new result.  We used PPO (Proximal Policy Optimization), a general reinforcement learning algorithm invented by OpenAI, to train a team of 5 agents to play Dota and beat semi-pros.

This is the game that to me feels closest to the real world and complex decision making (combining strategy, tactics, coordinating, and real-time action) of any game AI had made real progress against so far.

The agents we train consistently outperform two-week old agents with a win rate of 90-95%.  We did this without training on human-played games—we did design the reward functions, of course, but the algorithm figured out how to play by training against itself.

This is a big deal because it shows that deep reinforcement learning can solve extremely hard problems whenever you can throw enough computing scale and a really good simulated environment that captures the problem you’re solving.  We Continue reading “Reinforcement Learning Progress”

US Digital Currency


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I am pretty sure cryptocurrency is here to stay in some form (at least as a store of value, which is the only use case we have seen work at scale so far).  There was possibly a time when governments could have totally stopped it, but it feels like that’s in the rearview mirror.

However, I think it’s very possible that the dominant cryptocurrency hasn’t been created yet (Google was years late to the search engine party, and Facebook came long after most people assumed the social network wars were won).  And from the perspective of a nation, there are real problems with current systems, especially around pseudo-anonymity, ability to function as an actual currency, and taxability.

Although I don’t think the US government can stop cryptocurrency, I do think it could create the winner–let’s call it “USDC” for US Digital Currency–and fix some challenges that governments currently face with Continue reading “US Digital Currency”

Productivity


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I think I am
at least somewhat more productive than average, and people sometimes ask me for
productivity tips.  So I decided to just write them all down in one place.

Compound
growth gets discussed as a financial concept, but it works in careers as well,
and it is magic.  A small productivity
gain, compounded over 50 years, is worth a lot. 
So it’s worth figuring out how to optimize productivity. If you get 10%
more done and 1% better every day compared to someone else, the compounded
difference is massive. 

What you work on

It doesn’t
matter how fast you move if it’s in a worthless direction.  Picking the right thing to work on is the
most important element of productivity and usually almost ignored.  So think about it more!  Independent thought is hard but it’s
something you can get better at with Continue reading “Productivity”

A Clarification


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I made a point in this post inelegantly in a way that was
easy to misunderstand, so I’d like to clarify it.

I didn’t mean that we need to tolerate brilliant homophobic
jerks in the lab so that we can have scientific progress. 
Although there are famous counterexamples, most of the best scientists
I’ve met are unusually nice, open-minded people.  Generally I expect that labs that don’t
tolerate jerks will produce more impressive results than the ones that do, and choosing not to employ jerks is a good idea—jerks usually
reduce the net output of organizations.

What I meant is simply that we need, as a society, to
tolerate controversial ideas.  The
biggest new scientific ideas, and the most important changes to society, both start
as extremely unpopular ideas.

It was literally heretical, not so long ago, to say that it
was ok to be gay—the Bible Continue reading “A Clarification”

A Clarification


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I made a point in this post inelegantly in a way that was
easy to misunderstand, so I’d like to clarify it.

I didn’t mean that we need to tolerate brilliant homophobic
jerks in the lab so that we can have scientific progress. 
Although there are famous counterexamples, most of the best scientists
I’ve met are unusually nice, open-minded people.  Generally I expect that labs that don’t
tolerate jerks will produce more impressive results than the ones that do, and choosing not to employ jerks is a good idea—jerks usually
reduce the net output of organizations.

What I meant is simply that we need, as a society, to
tolerate controversial ideas.  The
biggest new scientific ideas, and the most important changes to society, both start
as extremely unpopular ideas.

It was literally heretical, not so long ago, to say that it
was ok to be gay—the Bible Continue reading “A Clarification”

E Pur Si Muove


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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Earlier
this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me.  I
realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than
in San Francisco.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China,
after all—just more comfortable than at home.

That showed me just how bad things have become, and how much things
have changed since I first got started here in 2005.

It
seems easier to accidentally speak heresies in San Francisco every year.  Debating a controversial idea, even if you
95% agree with the consensus side, seems ill-advised.

This will be very bad for startups in the Bay Area.

Restricting
speech leads to restricting ideas and therefore restricted innovation—the most
successful societies have generally been the most open ones.  Usually mainstream ideas are right and
heterodox ideas are wrong, but the true and unpopular ideas are what drive the
world forward.  Also, smart people Continue reading “E Pur Si Muove”

The Merge


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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A popular topic in Silicon Valley is talking about what year humans and machines will merge (or, if not, what year humans will get surpassed by rapidly improving AI or a genetically enhanced species). Most guesses seem to be between 2025 and 2075.

People used to call this the singularity; now it feels uncomfortable and real enough that many seem to avoid naming it at all.

Perhaps another reason people stopped using the word “singularity” is that it implies a single moment in time, and it now looks like the merge is going to be a gradual process. And gradual processes are hard to notice.

I believe the merge has already started, and we are a few years in. Our phones control us and tell us what to do when; social media feeds determine how we feel; search engines decide what we think.

The algorithms that make all this happen Continue reading “The Merge”

The Merge


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A popular topic in Silicon Valley is talking about what year humans and machines will merge (or, if not, what year humans will get surpassed by rapidly improving AI or a genetically enhanced species). Most guesses seem to be between 2025 and 2075.

People used to call this the singularity; now it feels uncomfortable and real enough that many seem to avoid naming it at all.

Perhaps another reason people stopped using the word “singularity” is that it implies a single moment in time, and it now looks like the merge is going to be a gradual process. And gradual processes are hard to notice.

I believe the merge has already started, and we are a few years in. Our phones control us and tell us what to do when; social media feeds determine how we feel; search engines decide what we think.

The algorithms that make all this happen Continue reading “The Merge”

American Equity


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I’d like feedback on the following idea.

I think that every adult US citizen should get an annual share of the US GDP.

I believe that owning something like a share in America would align all of us in making the country as successful as possible—the better the country does, the better everyone does—and give more people a fair shot at achieving the life they want.  And we all work together to create the system that generates so much prosperity.

I believe that a new social contract like what I’m suggesting here—where we agree to a floor and no ceiling—would lead to a huge increase in US prosperity and keep us in the global lead.  Countries that concentrate wealth in a small number of families do worse over the long term—if we don’t take a radical step toward a fair, inclusive system, we will not be the leading country in Continue reading “American Equity”

American Equity


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




I’d like feedback on the following idea.

I think that every adult US citizen should get an annual share of the US GDP.

I believe that owning something like a share in America would align all of us in making the country as successful as possible—the better the country does, the better everyone does—and give more people a fair shot at achieving the life they want.  And we all work together to create the system that generates so much prosperity.

I believe that a new social contract like what I’m suggesting here—where we agree to a floor and no ceiling—would lead to a huge increase in US prosperity and keep us in the global lead.  Countries that concentrate wealth in a small number of families do worse over the long term—if we don’t take a radical step toward a fair, inclusive system, we will not be the leading country in Continue reading “American Equity”

The United Slate


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I would like to find and support a slate of candidates for the 2018 California elections, and also to find someone to run a ballot initiative focused on affordable housing in the state.  A team of aligned people has a chance to make a real change.

I believe in creating prosperity through technology, economic fairness, and maintaining personal liberty.

We are in the middle of a massive technological shift—the automation revolution will be as big as the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution.  We need to figure out a new social contract, and to ensure that everyone benefits from the coming changes.

Today, we have massive wealth inequality, little economic growth, a system that works for people born lucky, and a cost of living that is spiraling out of control.  What we’ve been trying for the past few decades hasn’t been working—I think it’s time to consider some new ideas.

Continue reading “The United Slate”

Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Sam Altman invest $30 million in Change.org


This post is by Katie Roof from Venture Capital – TechCrunch


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 LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman announced today that he’s making a big bet on Change.org, the site for social justice petitions. Hoffman is leading a $30 million round, with other investors including big names like Bill Gates and Y Combinator president Sam Altman.
“Change.org, the global hub for collective action, is a crucial democratizing force in this era of growing civic… Read More

Join the YC Software Team


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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If you want to get funded by YC as a founder in the future, but you don’t have a startup that’s ready for that yet, joining the YC software team is a great hack to get there.

The YC software team is a small group of hackers in SF that write the software that makes all the parts of YC work.

As a member of the software team, you’ll get full access to the YC program, just like founders do.  You’ll learn the ins and outs of how YC works, and you’ll get to follow and learn from hundreds of companies.  You’ll meet the best people in the startup world and get exposed to the best startup ideas.
Software is how we can scale YC, and the limits of that are probably further out than most people think.

You can apply here: http://bit.ly/1Od0T2l.

Quora


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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I’m a strong believer in the importance of the internet in helping people to share knowledge and learn from each other.  So I’m delighted to share, on behalf of YC Continuity, that we’re investing alongside Collaborative Fund in Quora.

Quora is doing extremely well. They now have more than 190 million monthly unique visitors, almost doubling from a year ago. The combination of their ever-improving machine learning and the increasing amount of knowledge shared means the product gets better as it gets bigger. The content I see from Quora constantly gets more personalized for me.

I also believe they have some of the highest-quality user-generated content on the internet, and a real chance at being one of the few places that contain all human knowledge. The engineering challenges between here and there are great, but if there’s a team and product to bet on, this is one we’re backing Continue reading “Quora”

Tech Workers’ Values


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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For good and bad, technology has become a central force in all
our lives.

As members of the community, we’re interested in ways in which
tech companies can use their collective power to protect privacy, rule of law,
freedom of expression, and other fundamental American rights.  

We’d also like to discuss how tech companies can heal the divide
in our country. We believe that tech companies can create a better economic
future for all Americans by spreading high-paying technology jobs around the
country and other measures. We also
believe tech companies have an opportunity and an obligation to reduce the
polarization we’ve helped create.

Tech companies are very receptive to their employees’
influence. We believe that employees should come together and clearly
define the values and policies they’d like to see their companies uphold. A tech union isn’t the
perfect metaphor for this, but it’s not far off.

We Continue reading “Tech Workers’ Values”

Tech Workers’ Values


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For good and bad, technology has become a central force in all
our lives.

As members of the community, we’re interested in ways in which
tech companies can use their collective power to protect privacy, rule of law,
freedom of expression, and other fundamental American rights.  

We’d also like to discuss how tech companies can heal the divide
in our country. We believe that tech companies can create a better economic
future for all Americans by spreading high-paying technology jobs around the
country and other measures. We also
believe tech companies have an opportunity and an obligation to reduce the
polarization we’ve helped create.

Tech companies are very receptive to their employees’
influence. We believe that employees should come together and clearly
define the values and policies they’d like to see their companies uphold. A tech union isn’t the
perfect metaphor for this, but it’s not far off.

We Continue reading “Tech Workers’ Values”

Keep the Internet Open


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The FCC has announced plans to roll back policies on net neutrality, and its new head has indicated he has no plan to stop soon.

The internet is a public good, and I believe access should be a basic right.  We’ve seen such great innovation in software because the internet has been a level playing field.  People have been able to succeed by merit, not the regulatory weight of incumbency. 
It seems best to keep it regulated like a common carrier. [1] Doing this allows the government to ensure a level playing field, impose privacy regulations, and subsidize access for people who can’t afford it.
But this idea is under attack, and I’m surprised the tech community isn’t speaking out more forcefully.  Although many leading tech companies are now the incumbents, I hope we’ll all remember that openness helped them achieve their great success.  It could be disastrous for future Continue reading “Keep the Internet Open”

Keep the Internet Open


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The FCC has announced plans to roll back policies on net neutrality, and its new head has indicated he has no plan to stop soon.

The internet is a public good, and I believe access should be a basic right.  We’ve seen such great innovation in software because the internet has been a level playing field.  People have been able to succeed by merit, not the regulatory weight of incumbency. 
It seems best to keep it regulated like a common carrier. [1] Doing this allows the government to ensure a level playing field, impose privacy regulations, and subsidize access for people who can’t afford it.
But this idea is under attack, and I’m surprised the tech community isn’t speaking out more forcefully.  Although many leading tech companies are now the incumbents, I hope we’ll all remember that openness helped them achieve their great success.  It could be disastrous for future Continue reading “Keep the Internet Open”

Greg


This post is by Sam Altman from Sam Altman


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A lot of people ask me what the ideal cofounder looks
like.  I now have an answer: Greg Brockman.

Every successful startup I know has at least one person who
provides the force of will to make the startup happen.  I’d thought a lot
about this in the abstract while advising YC startups, but until OpenAI I
hadn’t observed up close someone else drive the formation of a startup.

OpenAI wouldn’t have happened without Greg.  He commits
quickly and fully to things.  I organized a group dinner early on to talk about
what such an organization might look like, and drove him home afterwards. 
Greg asked me questions for the first half of the drive back to San Francisco,
then declared he was in, and started planning logistics for the rest of the
drive.

From then on he was fully in, with an average email response
time of about Continue reading “Greg”