Links For Highly Ambitious People

Back in college I used to spend a lot of time scrolling social media. I wish it was put to better use. Also, I am constantly amazed how ignorant I was to all the amazing opportunities on offer for students. So I am putting together a list of links worth spending time on.


Pioneer grant -

Emergent Ventures -

Thiel Fellowship -

Cards against humanity STEM scholarship for a woman -

Helium grant ($1K) -

Y Combinator startup incubator -

Einstein Fellowship -

1517fund -


Wolfram Summer School -


Google Summer of Code -

Find hackathons on devpost -

The Recurse Center -

A-Z resources for students - A-Z resources for students

List of interesting labs - interesting-lab-websites


Slate Star Codex - Curated links

Gwern - Curated links

Alexey Guzey -

Github Awesome startup resources - Github repo

Github meta Awesome - Meta repo


Hell yeah or no - article

How to do what you love - article

How to maximize serendipity - article

Patrick Collison's advice for young ones - article

“the standard pace is for chumps”

Got any other links that should be on this list? Kindly email me

Amara's Law

Predicting the future is a foolhardy exercise. The world is complex system. Anyone who has studied complex systems knows that the cause-and-effect pattern seeking human brain is incapable of processing nearly enough variables to make predictions of any value. Having said that, there is one law for predictions and trend-spotting that has stood the test of time. Albeit in the narrow field of application of a new technology. That is the Amara's Law. It states that we tend to over-estimate the impact that a new technology is going to have on our lives in the short run, but tend to under-estimate it in the long run.

This has interesting implications for the technologies that are being talked about now (looking at you GPT-3). But first, lets go back in time to see how it applies to technologies that were invented in the past.

First, the internet. We are all familiar with the dot-com bubble of 2001. It came on the heels of seemingly boundless growth of silicon valley start-ups, flush with investor money, promising to solve all of humanities problems. Only to be followed by a crash destroying $5 Trillion in market capitalization of stocks in the process. The eager venture capitalists, the irrationally exuberant founders and the opportunist wall-street traders were all victims of Amara's law.

The technology had not matured yet, the market had a limited number of people who could access the internet, yadda yadda. The inflated expectations did them in. The Amara's law doesn't just trap people on the peak of inflated expectations but also on the trough of disillusionment. Around the same time the Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote that “by 2005 or so, it will become clear that the internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s”. He went on: “As the rate of technological change in computing slows, the number of jobs for IT specialists will decelerate, then actually turn down; ten years from now, the phrase information economy will sound silly.”

The internet is probably asking, "Who sounds silly now, Mr Krugman?"

The same pattern can be seen if we go further back to the invention of steam locomotive in 1802. Electricity, automobiles, personal computers... same thing. The law can be explained by some combination of the Dunning-Kruger effect and Rene Girard's Mimetic Theory. But I wont get into that here.

The Amara's law is currently unfolding for artificial intelligence and at a much earlier stage for block-chain technology. Over the last decade both have become buzz words on start-up pitch decks. AI has started predicting travel times accurately only recently. This suggests we are slowly climbing the plateau of productivity for AI. For block-chain I feel we are squarely in the middle of the trough of disillusionment, after the 1 BTC = $20K peak for bitcoin in late 2017.

Why Stoicism Matters

Most famous philosophers were polymaths. Among the handful geniuses of their respective generations. Their work often dealt with either building on or deconstructing the work of their predecessors. When we iterate this process over thirty generations of polymaths, then what we get is the current state of philosophy. Much of philosophy is, therefore, abstract and complicated. It is so divorced from daily life that only a handful of graduate students care about it anymore. It deals with solving pseudo-intellectual problems, but hey, isn’t that what most of academic life is like these days.

Philosophy wasn’t always this way, it used to be about helping people live their daily lives and find the appropriate path to follow. That is where Stoicism comes in. Stoic Ethics can be thought of as a means of protecting ourselves from any external adversity that can possibly be thrown our way. The most famous philosophers from the school of Stoicism were Marcus Aurelius who was a Roman emperor, Seneca who was the teacher of Nero and Epictetus who was born a slave. I will be discussing ideas from the works of this trio, also known as the “crown jewels” of Stoicism, in this article.

Things that you are going to learn from this article are going to be directly applicable to whatever challenge you are facing right now. Don’t take it from me, take it from these guys. Seneca was a Machiavellian, fifteen hundred years before Machiavelli was born. He amassed wealth and was not without flaws. When he called in one of his loans from the Roman colony in Britain, it collapsed their economy and sparked off a rebellion. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s number two at Berkshire Hathaway, is a Seneca fan and quotes him often. Oil and gas billionaire Thomas Kaplan funds a course on Stoicism at Brown University. The list goes on to include names like Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Gates, JK Rowling and Arnold Schwarzenegger who are all fans of Stoicism.

At this point, you are probably thinking, “Yeah, alright, alright, alright. I see Stoic ethics can be useful, but what are they?” Let's get right down to answering that query. Here is a list of things you can do to add more stoicism to your everyday life:

1. Overcome Emotions

Stoics love to separate all things into two categories, things we do control and things we don’t control. The things we do control are our thoughts and actions. The things we don’t control are…well…everything else. Too often, humans are guilty of letting their emotions decide the course of their thoughts and actions. The idea is that we should not get carried away by “passions” of desire, pain, pleasure, and fear. All of us feel these emotions. But the Stoics try to act out of reason. Therefore they feel the emotions but choose to respond in a way that they think is best

Now, the first thing to get out of the way is the misconception that Stoicism is about suppressing one’s emotions and going through life with a stiff upper lip. The modern image of a Stoic is that of an unemotional and feeling-repressing person. This is definitely not what it originally meant. It’s not what Stoicism is about.

Some could even say that this clampdown on their emotions is an impediment to their expression of free will. To those, I would argue the exact opposite. When we act in accordance with our emotions, we are doing just that. We do not allow our ability to reason or wisdom to change our course of action. Letting emotion overrule everything. The Stoics are not without emotions. If it were so, then there would be no emotions to overcome. They do have feelings but they are not enslaved by those feelings.

“Right, no one said anything about not feeling it. No one said you can’t ever cry. Forget ‘manliness.’ If you need to take a moment, by all means, go ahead. Real strength lies in the control or, as Nassim Taleb put it, the domestication of one’s emotions, not in pretending they don’t exist.” — Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way

Overcome your emotions, don’t pretend they don’t exist.

2. Get out of your comfort zone

Today, we live amid a ‘swipe-right’ generation. Enabled by technology, we have built systems that allow us to get instant gratification. We have surrounded ourselves with a set-up that is designed to save us from getting out of our comfort zone. Don’t like the food you are eating? Fine, just install an app and order whatever you like. Don’t like the job you are doing? Fine, just install an app and get a new one. Don’t like the person you are dating, home you are staying in or heck, the phone you are using? Fine, just install… you get the idea.

Now don’t get me wrong here, these new-age systems are an absolute joy to use and remarkably convenient too. Mini dopamine bombs delivered right into our comfort zones. But all this has come at a cost. ‘Instant’ is the only kind of gratification that generation Y and Z know. Imagine the satisfaction and happiness one would feel in putting food on the table after a long day of toiling on the field. Now to put food on the table, you can just go to your boring job for eight hours. We feel no gratification in having that food.

In trying to make our lives easy, we have eliminated our struggles. Now we just find it hard to stick with something we are struggling with. This, in simple terms, disables us from getting the satisfaction which we would have gotten as a result of the struggle. Not only that, going out of our comfort zones and getting our hands dirty, also helps us in cultivating mental resilience. This makes for a cool transition to my next point.

La Masia, Barcelona football club’s youth academy has produced hundreds if not thousands of professional footballers who play in top leagues all around the globe. According to them, the best indicator of the success of a teenage player as a professional is neither their skill with the ball or their ability to see passes or their athleticism. Rather, the best indicator of success is mental resilience, and this is true in a number of professions.

To build resilience, the Stoics advocated measures which could be broadly described as ‘voluntary discomfort’. Including steps such as sleeping on the floor and practicing poverty, definitely off-brand in 2018. The idea is that once we overcome the need to feel comfortable at all times, we will find it easier to stick to our plans and find ourselves capable of grappling with obstacles.

3. Love your fate

Stoics were determined champions of acceptance. They often called it “art of acquiescence” — to accept rather than to fight every little thing. Strikingly similar to Nietzsche’s concept of “Amor Fati”, which is Latin for “the love of one’s fate”. Asking us not just to accept our fate but to love it. It is a very powerful idea.

To understand this idea, consider an example of a dog leashed to a cart. The dog represents a person and the cart represents his or her fate. Now the dog can either walk willingly and avoid getting pulled by the leash or the dog can fight and get pulled by the cart unwillingly. Regardless of what the dog decides to do, the cart is going to pull the dog to wherever it goes. The dog tied to the cart is a metaphor for life itself. Where we are the dog and the cart is our fate.

“ My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it — but love it.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, section 10

The author talks about Amor Fati like it’s some sort of magic power. Almost as if, it can only be achieved after arduous struggle. Amor Fati is a mindset that we can take on to make the best out of everything. Treating every challenge as something to be embraced. To not just accept fate for what it is, but to love it. Converting challenges and adversity into fuel for our potential.

“Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant” — Seneca