It’s always good to start off anything by breaking a rule — Sigrid Nunez, Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag
The world is very beautiful. The people living in this world even more so. Each with their varied experiences and ways to look at the world. Unfortunately, when we meet someone we are busy thinking about their net worth, their weaknesses and how their life stacks up against our own. That’s because money is the single most important yardstick of success the world understands. Jealousy and our tendency to compare ourselves with others as old as our conscious thought. In addition to being a self consuming cancer, comparison with other people is often an exercise in asymmetric information-we don’t know much about the people we compare ourselves too. People are not comparable, they are just different.
Likewise, as the old saying goes ‘we should not compare apples to oranges’ but we often do. Think about comparing the success a country like Estonia has in digitizing everything. If we start comparing Estonia to India, China or USA and ask ourselves : ‘why can’t India be like Estonia?’ , we are comparing a nation with different DNAs. Analogy is useless in many dimensions.
This article emphasizes the fact that reasoning by analogy is useful but not always. We need to adopt ‘first principles design thinking’ in cases where reasoning by analogy is not useful. This article also lays out the importance of looking at the world around us with a blank slate. In latin, a blank slate is called a ‘Tabula Rasa’. By combining these two principles ie first principles design and Tabula Rasa, we can overcome a lot of our mental biases while building something new and while looking at the beauty of the world around us.
The MIT Technology Review dedicated its 120th anniversary issue to the rise of China. China is either leading or close to leading efforts in Artificial Intelligence, Electric Cars, Quantum Computing, Genetic editing and even deep sea dredging. An important observation the magazine made was that China has been trying for decades to gain an advantage in manufacturing semiconductor computer chips but the west has a very significant advantage…