Re: The Brin/Kelly challenge (Eliezer's eye-opening post)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Apr 06 2000 - 19:28:28 MDT

john grigg wrote:
> Wow, I was very impressed by your ideas. It must be incredibly frustrating
> to have such great concepts but not the capital or the connections to see
> them made real. And when they do eventually come about you will not be
> getting a slice of the profit pie. But at least the world would be a better
> place.

Oh, give me a break. "Incredibly frustrating?" Would any sane person
expect to be showered with capital or connections simply because of a
great idea? A great idea is worth nothing. It's just that genuinely
valuable things like teams, credentials, and capital are worth
substantially more when combined with a great idea.

As for getting a slice of the profit pie, I can afford to give ideas
away. It's not like I'm going to run out. If I need an idea for a
startup - for that matter, if any Singularitarian asks me for an idea
for a startup - I have quite a few socially important business concepts
that weren't on the list. I even have business concepts that would
simply make money, and which I therefore have no reason to give away.
And I can always get more.

A great idea is worth nothing if kept secret, but if you give it away,
people become interested. They know you're worth talking to. That's
where "connections" come from. (Of course, this strategy requires that
you have enough ideas to be able to afford to give them away.)

> To try to get through the 'screens' that surround the very wealthy can be an
> extremely difficult task. But have you even tried, Eliezer? Perhaps you
> should write grant proposals to charity foundations like the one created by
> Bill Gates and his wife. But I realize they are into looking at 'resumes'
> to see if one is deserving as you pointed out. But nothing ventured,
> nothing gained.

Wrong strategy. You don't call them. They call you. And you get there
by writing things that "they" are interested in.

Foundations don't give grants to nonprofits without a track record, and
you can't get a track record without funding for accomplishments. And
that doesn't happen until they call you.

I conclude with two quotes, neither of whose attributions I remember:

"There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you do not demand
credit for it."

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any
good, you'll have to shove them down people's throats."

--      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

                 Member, Extropy Institute
           Senior Associate, Foresight Institute

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