“I’m retiring my robovac.”

Over the course of a week, I announced this to numerous people, most of whom had the same reaction of surprise and pity. “You can’t get rid of it! How do you think it will feel?” said one of my less mentally sound friends. “Wait, you live in a 250 square foot apartment, why do you even have a robovac?” said another. Although I don’t know how my robovac felt after I left it in my apartment lobby for the vultures, the reason I bought one in the first place was because I was sold a…

Many years ago, I made a questionable bet. One afternoon, after school, a group of friends and I were huddled in my room, working on a project. Like every other group of kids gathered under the pretense of doing something productive, not much was getting done. As we were talked about everything other than schoolwork, my head was resting on the lap of one of my closest friends at the time. This wasn’t unusual; we were like siblings. At that moment, however, she looked down at me and asked: “Would it be weird if I liked you?”

“YES.” I said…

I became interested in experimental psychology after reading a book on how people pursue happiness.

Back then, I was fascinated by how researchers could take this completely abstract concept that existed in people’s heads, and not only measure it, but manipulate it, by tweaking the environments their research subjects were placed in. I wanted to learn what made people happy and motivated, so I studied psychology in college, graduated top of my major, went to grad school, and got a PhD in social psychology.

Along the way, I became less interested in people, and more interested in how we studied

My favorite professor in graduate school once said (I’m paraphrasing): “Whenever you analyze data and are happy with the results, dig deeper until you’re no longer happy — then you’re probably actually right”. Coming from this intellectual tradition, the number of people who walk around every day, happy with their thoughts and ideas, is appalling. In the context of product design, the same is true of the number of products that sound great on paper but don’t actually do anything.

I think the main reason this happens is that people spend too much time validating the fact that they’re right…

N.B.: Anyi Sun, Jeremy Watssman and I took part in ProtoHack on April Fool’s 2017. The theme was “Evil Genius Ideas”. This was our winning idea.

Our initial research revealed that the vast majority of super-villains fail at global domination because of their hired help. 0% of comic book henchmen are successful at their central task. Human henchmen are expensive, unreliable, and inefficient — after a lengthy and expensive onboarding process, they are sent out into the field never to return again, or worse, returning in a small zip-loc bag.

Thanks to recent breakthroughs in robotics research, initially performed by…

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