Reinventing Myself Yet Again
March 2023 Updates
My end goal is to have a massive positive impact on the world. How can I break this down into actionable steps? Here’s what my process looks like.
Do research to deeply understand a technical gap in society.
Create a plan to solve it.
This is what I’ve been doing for the last few months. End of update. 😂
No but more seriously, I really do believe strongly in this framework and, uh, I can’t see any flaw? I feel super motivated because everything I do can be traced back to my ultimate goal.
My hypotheses fail often and very quickly, but even in failure I still end up learning way more than I would have if I had been learning bottom-up. My hope is that eventually I get lucky and stumble on a great idea.
In the last 2 years I’ve had to reinvent myself many times when major projects that I worked on failed. I recorded this video recently talking about this in more depth, so check it out if you’re interested.
What am I exploring right now?
I’m exploring 3d printing power semiconductors. Basically there’s a whole other class of transistors called power transistors, that carry power rather than compute. The field is called power electronics, and it’s super important for electric vehicles, drones, but also the electric grid.
They don’t require nanometer precision (micrometer would be fine), and the material they’re made out of are really important for their efficiency.
Current hypothesis is that you could come up with a 3d printer machine that could fabricate these using way better materials than the silicon semiconductor that’s currently being used.
People have been talking about diamond power transistors for a while for example, since diamond is the exact same crystal as silicon but with carbon instead, and it has way superior material properties for conducting power (much higher voltages, frequencies, and thermal conductivity).
I’m spending my day-to-day learning more about the field. If you know anyone I should talk to, I’d love to connect!
How is this career path sustainable?
In practice what happens is that I alternate between working on my own independent research, and working at a company to extend my runway. For example last summer I worked at Primer to create a math program that teaches math as play.
My current default path is to start working at a 3d printing company sometime in the next few months. I’ve talked to people at Aon3D and they’re doing some really cool stuff with high end thermoplastics. Also I’m trying to connect with the founder of Freeform, since the stuff they’re doing with mass manufacturing for metal 3d printing is really similar to the research that I was doing previously.
Also, not sure how likely this is, but there’s this INSANELY cool company called Lightcell Energy that Danielle Fong just started. I would sort of be ready to do anything and everything to work there.
Otherwise, if anyone has recommendations for deep tech startups ☄️ that might be hiring, let me know!
Some other cool stuff
I was in Boston last month for my first time and had a fun time visiting MIT campus and crashing iQuHack. Thanks Michael and Marley for showing me around!
I was just in Austin for the last week helping run this pretty cool math/rationality camp! Went downtown one day to catch up with some friends that were at SXSW.
Otherwise going to be chilling in Toronto this month. Hit me up if you’re around.
That’s it for this month. See you next time.