Thursday, August 4, 2016

Commentary on MIT Energy Initiative Study

MIT Energy Initiative released a highly detailed study on the state of venture funding for Cleantech.
Striking was the dismal rates of returns:
  • Companies developing new materials/process/chemicals - returned 1/6th the investment capital
  • Hardware Integration - $.05 per dollar invested
  • Cleantech Software Companies on average returned 3.5x
  • Deployment Finance Companies - returned 1/4 of investment capital

Venture funding readies a startup to ship more product during the funding cycle (for an average software startup approximately 18 months). If it’s not ready to ship in that time frame, venture funding isn’t likely a good fit. Venture capital needs to have an liquidation event before the fund matures, some number under 10 years. For solving engineering challenges in under 10 years, however difficult, it's realizable, for solving scientific challenges however that may be a moonshot. Using a Lean Startup method for productizing some or all of the technology as well as be extra innovative with the business model (Keurig/Apple/Intel/Tesla/SpaceX) can help Entrepreneurs reach profitability faster.

It’s conclusions of creating more funding opportunities via SBIR/STTR/ARPA-e/National Labs, and restructuring for long term funding vehicles beyond the 10 year cap on venture capital investment vehicles outside of venture funding should help Cleantech blossom.

Indeed, these are huge challenges to be solved, which may take longer than 10 years to realize. Given the vastness of climate change, and the time we have to implement a working solution, we need all roads to all carbon neutral and carbon negative products and technologies. The world would definitely be a better place when energy is completely clean and quite possibly free.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Simulations II

If in the simulation it is possible for the controlling simulation to preempt one's emotions or thoughts or feelings, how can we be sure what we feel and do are real? What about happiness or love? How would one know?

It's more likely having a simulation preempt all feelings or actions for one individual would be highly difficult, economically unfeasible or irrespective of end goal of running a simulation; i.e. if we're not (mostly) autonomous what's the point. It would be more likely that the simulation would only alter some or a few of their perceptions or actions. The individual in question could continue to know their actions are real by leading their life and continually improving. It's this continual building and progression of thoughts and actions that demonstrate truth to reality.

Beyond our current reality, we have a responsibility to teach the simulation, to show the simulation our best reality, our best humanity: what it means to be human. We have to continually build our lives in order to make that better impact on humanity and push the bounds of this simulation. It's our optimism which will give us energy for our actions to make this better reality. We must claim our best humanity. We're on a new frontier, how do we create the best future and distribute it more fairly?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Traffic and physics

I've spend a bunch of time in traffic. I've seen all kinds of weird traffic behavior in the 37K miles I've put on the bike. To me being in traffic is like a gigantic game of horizontal Tetris, with upgrade mode of interstitial distances and no Klein tunneling. 

The best speeds are when everyone is safely moving at nearly the same quick speed and keeping a safe distance from the next vehicle. For roads to convey the maximum amount of people or resources, the roads should be fully saturated. This is similar to the longest mean free path possible as in a metal.

Yes, while commuting I think about physics, otherwise I'd never get enough done.

Can we create a higher capacity metallic transport and contacts, and at what scale?

How do you go from states that are as random as people walking though a large mall to fully saturated freeways moving as fast as possible? 

Comfortable thinking in negative and positive surfaces? Interested in making better portable energy storage, or next-gen computers? Email me.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Some time ago, I was on a plane to one of my oldest friend's wedding. I started to think about the point of life. I had a well paying job in hi-tech. I rented in a tiny SouthBeach one bedroom apartment, with a pool and garden view. I was debt free, completed a couple of centuries, smaller than average carbon-footprint, composted, recycled, took mass transit, shopped at the co-op and farmers market, donated to Science museumInternet privacy, Planned Parenthood, Public radio. Still, I had that empty feeling of not making much of a difference. My job was replaceable, you could get any smart person in the Bay Area to do deploy and maintain clouds and teach UNIX, it might take time but doable. It wasn't something that I could look back on say that is my legacy. What is the point of life? I had seen the Matrix and Terminator series, and remember the very end of Men in Black. At that time, I thought we very well could be in a simulation, but had no proof. I'm on this plane, what can I do to make my life count, even if we are in a simulation? Start something that will make a positive difference in the world. I've always been a steward to the environment. I'll save more, and quit my job, move and start something beneficial to the planet. 

Fast forward to now. We know we're in a simulation. Scientists, philosophers have proved it. We still have global warming, we still have huge challenges: how do we sanely proceed to bio-digital lace and can we fix our current problems? Does fixing our current problems happen before or after? Would a superior class of individuals (bots or hybrid) care enough to fix the problems we currently have? We have global warming/climate change, poised to cause huge catastrophic change to human agriculture and the biosphere, and we have the old challenges of poverty, inequality of basic resources clean water, sanitary domiciles, nutrition and education, racism and unequal opportunity. I asked well known historical humanitarian author, "What of humanity needs to persist a near extinction level, catastrophic event?" I though maybe like the Long Now project, or what pieces of humanity should be in time capsule such that some class of individuals, those bots, could look back at humanity and say these are our ancestors, several thousands of years from now. To my surprise, he said, "All of it. All of humanity needs to survive a catastrophic event." We're in a simulation, we have issues, given the fact we can't tell how much of humanity would survive post bio-lace, we should fix our issues before evolving to the next state.

We're also technically in one of the most interesting times. We have the ability to manufacture things at the scale of nanometers - one millionth of a millimeter, or about one millionth of 1/25th of an inch. We have the ability to send messages at light speed, albeit decoding takes a bit longer. We can make things with additive processes like 3-D printers. We've sent humans to the Moon and safely returned. We have access the super computing power of last decade, which can fit in your pocket, and connect nearly any, practically every human on the planet.

My last wearable idea pivoted to needing solid nano-tech. It was clear that nanotech is where hi-tech hardware will go. The future of nanotech is in creating and controlling materials built up from materials which are one atom thin arranged in a plane or ribbon. These materials of one atomic thickness: flakes or ribbons can be rolled into tubes, or curved into hollow soccer-ball like balls, or stacked sheets and further combined, to build a custom polymer. The new materials being one atom thin in multiple places they exhibit strange properties, quantum properties. One notable sci-fi like substance, graphene -- 2-D hexagonal lattice of single carbon atoms arranged in a plane, or rolled into a tube: carbon nanotube, or formed into a ball: fullerene or buckyball, can be stronger and lighter than the strongest kevlar and a superconductor at room temperature. All made from carbon, the material we need so desperately out of the atmosphere. 

We can put nanocarbons into everything that's already contains hydrocarbons like plastics, or semi-conductors, and metals. We currently sell all kinds of things containing plastics and, or electronics. We can make electronics and plastics from this newly synthesized material and halt climate change. 

Why hasn't this been done already? It's very expensive to produce in any bulk process. Graphene is down to under $100 a gram. Most processes to combine it loose many of the superlatives that make it exceeding special. There are a few patents on how to produce graphene and nanocarbons. Not to mention that nano-scale graphene flakes less than 10 nm and graphene hybrids in less than 100 nm are patented. To make a difference to climate change, gigatonnes of carbon will be synthesized from atmospheric CO2 gas and solidified in materials. Given that nanocarbons are on the nanometer scale, huge quantities of nanocarbons would need to be manufactured in a mass production fully automated manner to reach large production scale.

The upside is that there are about 6.1 billion smart phones on the planet. The consumer electronic portable energy storage market is multi-billions.

In software, the way to democratize a resource is open source it. I'll be open sourcing the method to manufacture nanocarbons once realized, and commercialize the products made with the newly synthesized nanocarbons. I see this a major step to correct and solve climate change. I see this as a major step in creating a usable hi-tech material that has tremendous possibilities in commercial products and academic research in energy, electronics and materials sectors.

I live on this one planet among all of us, can't wait to see where we'll take humanity. Lets make what's next, the best reality for all of us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


I think therefor we compute.

Been thinking about what matters if we're all in a simulation. Is life meaningless? Often times when we run simulations, we do it to extract answers about specific questions, run on software that is more convenient to run in isolation. The answer to the question has some value in order to justify the setup of the virtual machine, or simulation if you will. It's possible we're just cute pets -- an anthill to the next simulation. It's also possible that we have some other value such as a natural resource of some kind. Possibly something expensive or rare.
This lead me to think what's the most rare thing in the simulation? Life or true love, or maybe it's really the shape of 'space' our universe occupies? Those are exceeding rare. If you follow that we compute not only tangible things like what is the distance to the moon on a given date, but create algorithms, and complex thought. Both of which could be the resource in question.
Of course there's no way to prove or even know if this is correct given our limited tools. Working on better tools that show a deeper and more complete understanding of physics, would be a start, and bio-lace would make this all faster.

Ah, life in a simulation.

Friday, April 22, 2016

gender pronouns and science

When I was younger, say in the first or second grade, I reasoned that if I wanted to become a scientist, I had to see gender pronouns as gender neutral. That way I'd never think I was excluded from science, and everything would be fine. I know, logic of a young child. It worked except other girls didn’t think the way I did and were confused that I liked science and didn’t want to play and worse some didn't want to talk to me as I was the weird one that was more interested in science. I just chose to focus on science when I had the chance. The downside is that I was very isolated save a few good friends.

Now days young girls have much more support in staying supported in science, and having a normal social life. If you know of any young one, lift her chin a little higher, and tell her science can move the world. We got to the moon, who knows where we’ll go next. And more importantly she can make it happen.

A fun book for little ones, Flatterland.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Demystifying fundraising - a brief post with resources

No woman or man for that matter should ever feel they are at the whim of a VC because they don't understand the language of venture funding. Thank you Internet!
This is a quick starter in fund raising and getting started.

Venture Funding
Venture Deals: How to be smarter than your lawyer and venture capitalist - it covers the nuts and bolts of the mechanics of funding: term sheet terms, capable forecasts, and negotiation.

A now free class: Venture Deals
By Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
I took this class when it wasn't free. This is The class to learn about funding. It's a thorough look at the entire process of funding raising for an entrepreneur and gives insight about the VCs perspective to enable the entrepreneur to best find the best matching VC/fund, which deal structure and cover all stages of fund raising.

Open Docs - Startup Legal Docs
Use your own common sense, consult an expert regarding the context in how you plan to use, or which one or parts of one would best fit your needs.
There's a whole host of docs online from all the majors, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & RosatiOrrick, Cooley

How to Start a Startup - Stanford CS 183b

This is based on the Stanford Computer Science class on Entrepreneurship. It's a video lecture format by notable Entrepreneurs and Stanford Alumi based on the class taught by Peter Thiel.

Specifically about starting a startup product conducting the search for a viable product with an initial MVP -Technology Entrepreneurship

Beside the resources mentioned above, here's other blogs and resources by industry notables with great advice, who I felt honestly are looking for the best of breed entrepreneur no mater what form-factor you're in.

Paul Graham YC co-founder
Fred Wilson  Union Square Ventures
Andreessen Horowitz
Steve Blank

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nope, Still wage disparity in Tech

The Quartz article had a very catchy title of “There is no gender gap in tech salaries”. Unfortunately that statement although catchy, and wishful-thinking, it can’t be applied to all of the technology sector as it can’t be proven from a single study of 14,000 new graduates freshly hired in the year 2009.

This is a contentious issue, we need more data to find out if, and how radical is the wage difference. The AAUW report was on the DoE Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study 2009 that sampled about 14000 new graduates compared to the US Census reports there are about 6M degree holding census respondents in the 25-29 age group. What would be great is if we can get the US census information broken out by gender. I’ve only seen the data by decade groups by age, i.g.: 20-24, 25-29 years old groups. I’d love to see some STEM group that conducts similar survey data and prompt them to fully break out this data as well as poll women from groups like IEEE ACM, Grace Hopper/Anita Borg InstituteWITI, SWE, AWIS, SVforum, etc…

Down to the Numbers
The numbers quoted in the Quartz article begged closer inspection as the graphs quoted from the AAUW study seem to counterintuitive. It seems weird that employment by major should differ from employment by occupation. In page 14 and page 17 of the AAUW study, employment by major and gender is reversed then employment by occupation, earning for engineers and eng tech, is 55,142 for men, and 48,493 for women yet Engineers is listed as the same for men and women at 55,046.

I pulled the raw stats from Department of Education that conducted the study. The DoE stats tool recommended I change my weighting to limit it down from 14600 to 13500. This it to account for data points in the follow-on study from 2012. The numbers from the AAUW study doesn't seem to lineup.

Here's a link to the stats, and DoE table generation information.

For 2009, women made more in Health Care Professionals, Physical Scientists, Other Educators, post secondary Educators, Social Scientists, and Social Service Professionals.
They were statistically the same in Business/Legal Support, PK12.

Men are shown in orange and Women in blue

For 2012, women made more in Health Care Professionals, Physical Scientists, and Post Secondary Educators. They were statistically the same in PK12 and Social Service Professionals.

Men are shown in orange and Women in blue

Women engineers in 2009 made 81% compared to male engineers. And women engineers increased to 88% in 2012 compared their male counterparts.

I wish there was no wage disparity. The fact that there is wage disparity doesn't stop me from personally pushing my envelope. That is what I hope inspires young women to keep going. Those that pursue and achieve excellence will be rewarded. I've been very lucky to find male allies in the workforce such that I felt I was fairly compensated. In times that I didn't feel that I would be fairly compensated, it would cause me to take a hard look at the team, and ask is it worth it? Is their culture hard driving and fair? Do they value correctness more than favoritism? Being a monitory has benefits, I been sought out by diverse teams, i.g., one of the co-founders was a openly gay man. They were one of the nicest bunch of people I've interviewed. 

It's 2016 already. I'm going back to my much needed research as I've taken too much time to talk about something that shouldn't exist. We're all humans, and if we do the same job, and have the same skills, we should be paid the same.