Riva Tez on Being Optimistic About Problem Solving – Problems Sighted

Check out the Problems Sighted Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • When problem solving, aim to always reduce complexity
  • Be deliberate in how you curate the media you consume
  • Think about life as a game – “It’s just another level, another boss, another battle”
  • Riva has a neon sign that reads “Everything’s a Scam” hanging over her living room
    • This helps remind her that you really don’t need to be an expert to do great things in life
    • As Steve Jobs said – “Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people who were no smarter than you”
  • “Social media gives everybody a voice”
    • You can gain notoriety and spread ideas simply by using Twitter well

Books Mentioned

When Problem Solving, Aim to Reduce Complexity

  • The meta-problem is complexity
    • “You have all these sub-problems. But the overarching problem as to why we can’t solve all the mini problems is that things are very complex and you have complex systems.”
    • The first-principle problem then, is “how do you reduce complexity?”

The Knowledge-Action Pipeline

  • ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Science’ are interchangeable terms
  • You can think of the process of updating knowledge and making it actionable as a pipeline
    • Innovating this pipeline is “unsexy” but could have immense positive effects for everyone
      • Ex. – it shouldn’t cost a decade and billions of dollars to bring a new drug to market
      • Hardware represents a fundamental limit to the problems we can solve; so “if you can make hardware better, you change everything for everyone”

Optimism vs. Cynicism

  • On Optimism
    • “If you convey an optimistic idea about how the world can be, you’re also suggesting that there’s a responsibility for us to be able to get there”
      • Even if you yourself are not optimistic about a problem, you want others to be so that they try and solve it
      • “Boost everyone around you into believing they can achieve things they want to achieve”
    • “There’s a vast opportunity for millennial and Gen Z to build the media vehicles that satiate the desires and optimism of those younger than them”
  • On Cynicism
    • It’s become “cool” to be cynical, but that has negative downstream effects
      • “These narratives reduce people’s agency to solve problems because there’s no point”
        • Being cynical removes the responsibility to solve a problem
      • People in the “tech community are like the new Hollywood” in terms of the global reach they now have
        • Their words can inspire or dissuade others more than ever before
        • There just aren’t many popular media examples of utopian futures
  • Be deliberate in how you curate the media you consume

Treat Life Like a Game

  • “Kids get brainwashed by the cynicism of people around them”
    • Elon Musk is a great icon because he’s constantly demonstrating that he’s choosing to work on these huge problems even though he doesn’t have to
      • He also shows that he’s having fun along the way
    • You want to show the positive aspects of solving problems in order to inspire more people to solve problems
  • Don’t take things too seriously (especially with yourself)
    • On her worst days, Riva will say to herself – “Wow life really sucks today. But oh my god, I get to experience it?”
  • Think of things like games
    • “It’s just another level, another boss, another battle”

Everything’s a Scam

  • Riva has a neon sign that reads “everything’s a scam” in her living room
    • It’s actually “the most optimistic message you can think of every day”
    • For example – the so called “expert status” necessary to understand a problem… is a scam
      • Like how Elon Musk started a rocket company just by reading a bunch of books and talking to really smart people
    • The phrase is related to Steve Jobs’ view on life:
      • “Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people who were no smarter than you”
    • “It’s a reminder to just play the game. Any game you wanna play, go play. Just go play it because it’s just a f*cking game.”

Education Alternatives

  • People who complain about something being broken should create an alternative/offer a suggestion to fix it, or put their money where their mouth is
  • There should be more experimentation around building alternative institutions for future generations
    • Ex. – Lambda School helps people break into tech by deferring payment until AFTER they’re hired
      • There should be more alternatives like Lambda School for people who want to bypass academia

What problems does Riva want people to work on?

  • More interesting media companies
    • “2020 is going to be a shitshow”
    • Few sub-35 year olds watch mainstream media
  • There’s a massive opportunity for counterculture media companies that capture the youth zeitgeist and optimize for trust
    • Don’t peddle the left-right divide
    • “If you want to shape America, or the world, in the future, capture the youth’s trust now”
  • More young people should run for office
    • It’s amazing how much notoriety and influence you can garner with charisma and knowledge of media tools like Twitter
  • “More people should be listing the problems in their scientific fields” and finding others to help solve them
    • Riva is working on a bounty program where scientists in different fields share their problems, and industry professionals get paid to create solutions

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services