When I regularly attended tech events, identity was nearly always tied to job. "Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Andrew, I work at X doing Y". Some part of this was status signaling, but it was also because this was the defining characteristic about San Fransisco tech relationships.
I don't think I have a particularly defining characteristic anymore—or at least, try not to—so I'll tell you a bit about myself in far more words, and perhaps some of this will stick out.
My current interests are learning, meeting people, exploring meaning, appreciating the outdoors, and continuing to improve making pottery. I mountain bike most days during the summer, ski a few dozen days every winter, and rock climb good a bit. All of these are social for me, and have been the root of many friendships I've had. I meditate regularly, on a non-dual, expanded awareness-style path.
Professionally, I'm on a sabbatical. I'm a generalist software engineer / manager / CTO, though I often am incubating some technical specific interest such as functional programming, distributed systems, scalability, or machine learning. I'm currently helping with a few startups as a part time CTO advisor. Most recently, I was a co-founder of Levels, a startup that helps people improve their metabolic health.
I've lived in Durango, Colorado since early 2020, after having lived in the San Fransisco Bay Area for 8 years. San Fransisco has a quality of aliveness and excitement that I loved, but over time, my wife and I felt we didn't feel a strong sense of home, and wanted to intentionally find where we would plan to grow old. And we're pretty sure it's Durango — a beautiful, small town near mountains and desert. The people here are wonderful, and the access to nature is breathtaking.
Things about me
My conversational preference is small groups and one-on-one conversations. I have regular long phone calls with my close friends.
I care about the long term, but am cautious about strong belief — trying to always carry epistemic humility. I consume almost zero news, only picking up small thing here and there from others. I'm often an accidental moderate, and enjoy seeking out contrarian, rational, and reasonable arguments against my current beliefs. As such, I have a pretty eclectic set of political beliefs, and don't match nicely to major political parties.
I catalogue a lot of what I consume online, using Readwise Reader for reading, Raindrop for bookmarking, YouTube playlists for curating and keeping track of videos, and Tana (and prior, Roam) for note taking. My biggest suggestion in dealing with information overload: separate information curation from consumption. Nearly everything hits Reader, Raindrop, or a YouTube playlist before I actually consume it. It allows for better curation, and usurps much of the attention economy dynamics.
For some reason, in the past few years, I've found it easy to be critical about where I earn my dopamine and get rewards — I'm wary of things that feel like addictions. Specifically, I try to be introspective about whether rewards loops are promoting the sorts of things I want more of. As such, I don't drink much, don't really play video games, etc.
I have pretty high openness and risk tolerance for lifestyle interventions. I have experimented with dozens of supplements and nootropics, and do breathwork training, cold plunges, heat therapy, extended fasts, etc. I don't love the brand, but if you imagine whatever ads "biohacker dude in his 30s who will try anything" gets on Instagram, I've probably done it. My favorite practices are cold exposure, meditation, and various breathwork exercises.
Twitter is a truly wonderful site to meet people. Or at least, Twitter has been a great site for me to meet the sorts of people I never had in person, and who interacted in positive, open, and playful ways. It's probably pretty awful otherwise, for Moloch reasons.
Philosophically—or perhaps, for my core perspectives—I resonate with metarationality and fallibilism, with influence from Plato and the Stoics. I care deeply about games, in the Finite and Infinite Games sense. John Vervaeke talks about the agent-arena relationship, and especially today, both of these are more malleable than we imagine. Visa's many catchphrases capture this better than I can: focus on what you want to see more of, joke about outcomes you want, optimize for survival, ayy lmao.
Some pages I keep up to date with evergreen content:
Interests and open questions
- How can we innovate economic systems to better capture all externalities, and maximize diffuse wealth creation?
- Money and religion facilitated mass coordination at scale. What other technologies would promote more coordination, and how should we implement them?
- What helps us solve collective action problems? (building value-positive public goods, climate change, long term impacts, etc)
- How should science be funded and performed to optimize breakthroughs? Are we in a stagnation? How do we minimize scientific cargo culting?
- How do we minimize rent seeking?
- How do we avoid systemic local optimums? (institutional rot, inability to adapt to changing conditions)
- What should be done with digital censorship, centralization/decentralization, information ecology pollution, etc?
- What would help the general population make sense of the complicated world better? Is distributed news any better? How should people know what experts to trust?
- What common-good protocol-oriented infrastructure (such as email, HTTP, etc) should exist to promote non-centralized wealth?
- What cultural infrastructure should be built to facilitate meaning-making and human flourishing?
- What are the best goals of education? How can we improve? How real is Bloom's 2 sigma problem? If it is, how do we leverage that at scale? Is there a way to formalize and teach analogy making and abstract cognition at scale?
- Why did obesity rise in prevalence massively? What explains Japanese vs American health outcomes? (I'm skeptical of the lithium hypothesis.)
- How does lasting behavior change happen? What causes someone to make big lifestyle decisions (lose weight, exercise regularly)?
Recent Professional Work
- Kifi (2012-2016), VP Engineering. Acquired by Google.
- Google (2016-2019), Senior Engineering Manager. I primarily worked on Google Voice.
- Levels (2019-2023), Co-founder. I led our engineering teams.
- Sabbatical (2023- ). Making meaning and spending time with people I love.
These books, videos, and people have influenced me the most into forming who I am. You and I are different, but you may find value here. I highly recommend everything listed. Multiple influences on the same line are similar or resonated together.
How humans and culture work
- The Righteous Mind
- Seeing like a State
- Metaphors We Live By
- Trust Me, I'm Lying
- The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Strong Towns, Land is a Big Deal
- Antifragile, Black Swan
- In Search Of A Flat Earth
- The Elephant and the Brain
- Awakening from the Meaning Crisis
- Finite and Infinite Games
- Seeing that Frees, Michael Taft's free guided meditations, Waking Up
- Meditations, The Manual
- The Courage to be Disliked, Nonviolent Communication
- Meaningness, In the Cells of the Eggplant
- The Bayesian Brain and Meditation
- Favorite Scott Alexander posts: I can tolerate anything except the outgroup, Meditations on Moloch, Conflict vs Mistake, SSC Gives a Graduation Speech, Beware Isolated Demands for Rigor, Universal Love, Said the Cactus Person
- This is Water
- The Egg
- Surfaces and Essences, I am a Strange Loop, Gödel Escher Bach
- A Pattern Language, Notes on the Synthesis of Form
- The Beginning of Infinity
- The Art of Doing Science and Engineering
- Our Mathematical Universe
- Sapiens (it's good, actually)
- Preventing the Collapse of Civilization, The Only Unbreakable Law
- Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, Why
- All I really needed to know...
These are some of the people who have impacted my life the most. Perhaps over time I'll write more deeply about why, but until then, let this just be a note of gratitude. Explanations and links provided are just nods to their contributions, and likely don't capture everything they did for me.
David Chapman for introducing me to nebulousity and meaning, David Deutsch for philisophical and political ideas, Tyler Cowen for his intellectual outlook on life, Elizabeth Gilbert for showing how creativity is a spiritual experience, Christopher Alexander for how to think about our place in context, Karl Lew for demonstrating how to live with flow and equanimity, Bo Burnham for metamodern comedy, Scott Alexander for his years of writing, James Scott for introducing me to illegibility, John Vervaeke for his meaning crisis series, Michael Taft for his meditations and classes, Noah Maier for helping me be a better version of myself, Stephen West for explaining philosophy in a way I could understand, Derek Sivers for being a role model, Daniel Schmachtenberger for introducing me to risk and metamodern politics, Tom Duterme for showing me a different path, Erik Torenberg for his challenging and philosophical writings, Patrick Collison for challenging mediocracy, Douglas Hofstadter for all of his analogies, Socrates for helping me know myself, Marcus Aurelius for stoicism, and Beau Miles for living a flourishing life.
In no particular order, documentaries that I enjoyed and recommend to others: Icarus, Minding the Gap, Sour Grapes, Man on Wire, The Overnighters, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Dear Zachary, Chicken People, My Octopus Teacher, 20 Feet from Stardom, Kedi, Project Nim, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Three Identical Strangers, Tickled, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, American Factory, Searching for Sugarman, Dealt, The Most Hated Family in America, Kumaré.
Climbing related: Meru, Valley Rising, Dawn Wall, Free Solo, 14 Peaks, all the Reel Rock annual movies
About this site
This is a custom theme, originally built on top of the Ghost theme Journal. I borrowed a lot of the minimalist design inspiration from personal sites of Manuel Moreale, Callum Flack, and Craig Mod. The logo was originally designed by Midjourney (prompt: line art simple minimalist mountain icon), then upscaled, vectorized, and manually tweaked.