I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloweekend. It feels strange that we used to have, more or less, one set day to wear a mask…and now we all wear them every day (is this a coronavirus joke or…?)
While the spoozy szn has past, I know the real scary day on your calendar, for many of you, is Election Day. Although, it does seems unlikely that we’ll have a clear winner on Tuesday (I’d guess ~ 20% probability that we have a definite winner on Tuesday night – ie. some sort of wave scenario, or otherwise surprising trend; particularly after reading reports that some PA counties will not count votes until the following day. This could change).
Before you go to check 538 again, I’d like to encourage you to not. One of the common critiques is that 538 “got it wrong in 2016”, which reflects a common misunderstanding of probability. No candidate is given a 0% probability of winning, therefore, in reality, a certain outcome cannot be used to refute the validity of their models.
However, this rebuttal can be easily followed-up with another critique. This type of modeling can be better or worse, more or less useful, but it’s ultimately unfalsifiable. Were the odds 99-1? or were they 55-45? We only get to live in N=1 reality, so we’re not able to see in how many simulations of the world Candidate A or Candidate B wins.
I have no idea what the results of the election will be. Personally, I am looking forward to exiting from this (two-and-a-half-year?) electoral cycle. Politics, and more importantly, governance are important. But I am hopeful that soon we’ll all have more energy and attention to focus where we can can make the greatest direct, positive contributions.
Now, like all of 2020, is a wonderful time for each of us to practice having a healthy, functional belief about our ability to influence the world. There are tangible actions you can still take to influence the [on-going] election at the margin, please have at it and leave it all on the field. Just know that no matter how many times we refresh the latest polls page, we will not have any greater predictive power about what electoral results the future will bring us.
The most doomer scenarios are all unlikely, ie. Civil War, large-scale violence, etc. I would bet against a significant breakdown in our society’s functioning (although I think it’s plausible that we’ll see localized issues and violence similar, and perhaps a bit greater, to what has already occurred in 2020). While the only thing that most of our elected officials can agree on is “This is the most important election of our lifetime,” I think more voters (and non-voters) would agree with the statement “The United States is worth more than the results of a single election.”
People are going to continue to work, go shopping at the grocery store, educate their children, and love their neighbors. Most people have spent much less time thinking about any of this than most of you who are still reading this. Please do not let fear or despair come to dominate your life. Elections have consequences and life goes on. Both are true!
We’re all going to make it.
The Best of my Recent Reads:
- The Centralized Internet Is Inevitable by Samo Burja
I still believe that the internet has and will continue to “change facts on the ground” and facilitate the creation of products that enable [certain] 3rd-parties to be disintermediated, ie. Bitcoin or 3D Printing
Samo likely wouldn’t dispute any of that but still provides a powerful counter-narrative that’s worth considering
- “There are millions of highly skilled developers in the world. Only a small fraction work at large technology companies, and only a small fraction of those work on new product development. Many of the most important software projects in history were created by startups or by communities of independent developers.” from Why Decentralization Matters by Chris Dixon
Samo referenced Chris’ piece so I figured I’d feature it to present the kind of theory that he’s challenging
- “I don’t know if I will see the completion of this project, or even if it will work in the long term. But that doesn’t bother me. I’m focused on placing the next brick.“, from Bitcoin at 12 by Nic Carter
Bitcoin hit a valuation of $14,000/BTC as it turned 12 years old. This piece from Nic resonated with my own thesis on Bitcoin, in that, I do not think it’s inevitable, or perhaps even likely to succeed in its vision.
That doesn’t mean it won’t change our world, or continue to capture the minds and talents of many of the most competent technologists. Or the dollars of institutional and retail investors… [Not investment advice].
I should have much more original content in the upcoming newsletters! My plan was to press publish on quite a few pieces that I’ve been working on. However, I ended up having quite a few time-sensitive work opportunities pop-up throughout the past week. Please wish me luck on these interviews :))
As always, please feel free to reply and leave any feedback, questions, or share something random with me to spark a conversation. I wish you all nothing but the best this week!