Apr 29, 2023Liked by Venkatesh Rao

I vaguely remember this one puzzle from back in school where you had to draw a certain symmetrical shape without lifting your pen off the paper. The only way to do it was to use some creative additional scaffolding outside the shape to complete it. It was an extremely unsatisfying way to "solve" the puzzle but bizarrely enough, that puzzle was far more popular than it deserved to be.

To connect that terrible solution with the subject of retailing the world, I think there's one important aperiodic tile you should add to your list, not just for 2023, but over the medium to long term: "facts". It's probably more of a meta-tile. The way the whole idea of what constitutes a fact has come into question over the first two phases of the interregnum, I have a feeling that it is now something like a wild card tile piece. It can be added at any point to mirror any existing edge tile and dictate which way the puzzle pseudo-builds out from there. I'd even argue that it subsumes the COVID and Climate pieces. Those two wouldn't even be pieces on your list if the facts around them weren't considered so slippery and amoebic. Another way the facts tile will affect the puzzle is by clumsily tiling any unpluggable hole you create as you build out...

What's worse is that I'm afraid that one tile is going to outnumber and outsize all the other tiles in the puzzle as we go along.

Expand full comment

I'd love to see this paradigm of finite-game epochs get layered through theories of history and evolution. Is history the story of those who emerge from interregnums to define the rules of new finite games? Are there selection pressures that reward finite games for adapting to the infinite? Are the aperiodic tiles the evolutionary pieces being driven by more fundamental developmental forces?

Expand full comment
Apr 30, 2023·edited Apr 30, 2023

Far more fundamental is the ability of "value flows" to define everything, including "facts" and define every "protocol" : whatever be the protocol. Everything has "value" from some perspective or the other. There is an aspect of ubiquitous applicability and even versatality. The Amazing Versatility of (crypto) Tokenised Protocols.

For one, ChatGPT uses byte-pair encoding (BPE) tokenization, which is a type of subword tokenization. BPE works by repeatedly merging the most frequent pairs of adjacent characters or character sequences until a predefined vocabulary size is reached. This allows ChatGPT to handle rare or previously unseen words or concepts (value representations) by breaking them down into smaller subword units that are more likely to appear in the vocabulary. Esentially, a tokenised protocol which seems to have ability to analyse and interpret anything using concepts of value.

Expand full comment

I think it might be useful to decompose and recombine those 6 tile pieces differently. Crypto and AI are both broad areas and many people have an allergy to one or both terms. The key themes I see in crypto are digital currency, distributed algorithms, and decentralized autonomous organisations. Themes within AI include conversational interfaces, automation, and enablement (i.e. a dramatic increase in what people can do individually given their current knowledge). These can be recombined in different ways, for example digital currency fits with inflation and monetary policy and points to a number of new levers in this area which weren't available previously. I suspect many of the more interesting changes here are outside the crypto space. The DAO theme fits within other changes in organisation/governance - future of work and digital democracy for example. The AI components show them as continuing themes over a long period of time not something which arrived suddenly in the last couple of years.

Obviously 10 points is less punchy than 6 but they could be refined further, I'm interested in your thoughts on which are significant or not.

Expand full comment