People from whom I have heard an interesting theory this year

Dec 26, 2017 · 4 min read

This is sort of like an end-of-year book list, but a lot of good ideas are communicated via blogs and twitter, and they need recognition too! So, here’s a list of high-quality ideas and theories I read, and who I found them from.

@bswud — The “Puritan vs Cavalier” approach to looking at the world. The Puritan has high moral standards, whilst the Cavalier is more pragmatic. Unfortunately he has not written a blog post about it that I can link to!

@sam_dumitriu — Following Sam on Twitter, he has had a bunch of really interesting tech policy ideas all year. Some highlights include arguments for spectrum deregulation, net neutrality and tax reform that actually does cause growth.

@conorsen — Consistently great on demographics, labour markets and housing. Some highlights include a great contrarian post on housing & interest rates, and an argument for why job automation shouldn’t be a concern.

@benedictevans — This year, his analysis on the future of AI, retail and augmented reality has been fantastic. This short video presentation sort of ties in all these insights together.

@kevinnr — I read everything he writes, he is consistently canny and insightful. But this piece, on attitudes to the future, was a standout: “there’s no reason to believe that we — and we are the ones in charge here — are suddenly going to decide to start making things worse”.

@pmarca — Has influenced my thinking so much there are too many ideas to count! But this year, the book recommendation A Great Leap Forward about tech driving economic recovery after the Great Depression really changed how I think about the economy today.

@sonyaellenmann — Put into words something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what is the female equivalent of the (mostly) male anti-hero? She concludes, it’s the maladjusted party girl. I agree!

@bryan_caplan — I think this guy is seriously underrated because he says so much wacky stuff, which stops people from getting to his actually correct theories. But this year, I really liked his posts on free will and genetic determinism, the economics of Szasz and common sense morality.

@tylercowen — As a daily reader of MR, there are a lot of ideas to choose from! The weirdest one was this theory of gene-culture co-evolution — which raises the strange theory that more interdependent cultures could be a response to a greater predisposition to depression.

@nickarner — Consistently writes fantastic posts on combining music technology, iOS development, music technology, and other things. This blog post was a highlight.

@dalejstephens — Dale is the person I credit with teaching me “street smarts”. When I met him I was a fobby nerd, rather than the extroverted networking enthusiast I am today. This year he taught me a number of things about how tech is diffusing into the rest of the world, apprenticeships in education, and California politics.

@patio11 — Has posted so much great, practical, detailed advice on the software business this year. Read his whole feed. One highlight includes how to blog.

@oculuscat — I worked with Chris at Oculus, and to this date he’s the smartest engineer I’ve ever worked with. He is scary smart. I learn so much about graphics, cryptography and software architecture from his Github.

@greg_ip — This is the business reporter I go to, to get accurate information on what’s happening with the tech industry. He wrote a good argument for why the roboclapyse is overblown — including early this year, when almost everyone was taking this as fact.

@JohnHCochrane — I always enjoy this guy’s blog. This year had a great post on bitcoin, how it may end up simply being the digital replacement for gold, and how that will play out. The post on tax policy design was good as well.

@mattwelch — One of this guys’ theories is the surprisingly strong link between diverging lifestyles, complex pop culture and libertarianism. This interview sort of describes it in some detail.

@natfriedman — Has a super widely applicable theory: that most change is pushed by not by mass movements OR individuals, but small groups of highly motivated people. See my thread.

@kylebrussell — Has a lot of insight into the AR/VR industry, having covered it first as a reporter, and then as a VC at a16z. I learned so much from him when we were working together, but this year I really enjoyed his analysis on the future of AR & how that intersects with entertainment/gaming. Sample tweet.

@smc90 — Sonal is v talented at picking out the important stories to be told in technology. With a background in developmental psychology, she also has a lot of interesting insights about people. This year I particularly enjoyed this podcast about mid-century productivity growth, that raises the question — does policy drive technology, or the other way around?

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