Liron's Comments

Is there a simple parameter that controls human working memory capacity, which has been set tragically low?

Hmmm interesting, thanks for posting this! Overall the fact that humans are so much smarter than chimps but still have the same-size tiny-on-any-absolute-scale symbolic working memory seems to support my original claim that this is a tragically sucky situation.

Is there a simple parameter that controls human working memory capacity, which has been set tragically low?

Wow as Vakus Drake said, looks like chimps have more working memory than us, at least in one sense that feels important:

CFAR Participant Handbook now available to all

This content is a real gem. It's easy and fun to read, yet offers a high density of CFAR's unique insights which are worth knowing to improve your life. It also manages to speak to all rationality skill levels and knowledge.

I would love to see this content featured on CFAR's site, which is currently kind of a black box in terms of what specific "rationality" they teach. There's this FAQ answer that lists the topics of the workshop, but I suspect it's better to let prospective workshop attendees dive in more ahead of time if they're curious.

I was so inspired by how this handbook makes CFAR look good that we're now working on the same thing at my startup Relationship Hero, a public-facing handbook that will make our coaching less of a black box. Update: It's live here.

Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay

Alright I shall update to a belief that maybe there’s some different dynamic that makes remote work less advantageous when an organization size is in the 10,000+ range.

What are all these “costs” that outweigh the benefits? I suspect they are easy enough to circumvent. My observation is that all the same tools being invented that make non-remote companies more productive (e.g. Slack) are usable remotely.

I’d still bet 1:1 odds that 2+ of the top 10 US companies by market cap in 5 years will allow more than 50% of their employed software engineers to work from anywhere.

Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay

You think I would use the language of belief probabilities as a figure of speech???

I’m up for $100 vs $100. Just send me a message at to confirm with your real identity.

Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay

I don't have any hard data but I'd bet that the ratio of "work locations per market cap dollar" has been steadily increasing in the economy over the last few years. (A measure of how distributed each company's workforce is, and weighting higher-market-cap companies higher.)

I also bet more than 50% chance that within 3 years at least one of {Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon} will give more than 50% of their software engineers the ability to work from home for at least 80% of their workdays.

The fact that Stripe ($30B+ valuation) is now actively hiring many remote employees is a significant recent anecdote I can offer. Do you have any significant anecdotes indicating a remote work decrease?

Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay

But every sufficiently large organization is already distributed across lots of offices and timezones. Why should we expect the distinction between “on-site” and “off-site” work to be relevant to productivity if on-site work is already remotely distributed?

The inside view is: even if you’re in the same office with all the people who matter to your job, most of your job is done by you interfacing with your computer. Even when I did the whole “live with your startup cofounder in a 2BR apartment” thing, we worked in separate rooms and interacted via text. So what specific interactions happen in meatspace that are durably necessary for increased productivity in our increasingly virtual world, and can’t be compensated for by any creative remote-work best practices?

It seems obvious to me that the answer is nothing.

Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay

I'm confident that the larger trend is the opposite of the examples you've witnessed. Sure, big companies who wake up to the importance of having engineering resources might first get the idea to hire them in-house, but remote work is clearly a huge trend throughout the economy. One way to understand this is that even "in-house" often means that a company's own employees are working across national/international offices or working from home.

Why is the mail so much better than the DMV?

I think competition explains a lot of it. Using USPS instead of UPS or Fedex is a free-market choice, but I don’t have much choice where to get electricity for my home or where to get a driver’s license after moving to a new state.

Programmers Should Plan For Lower Pay

From my other comment:

What kind of workers are producing more value? What are the characteristics of a job that enables more value creation? One where there's more leverage, i.e. an hour of work produces more economic value, without a corresponding increase in supply.

Another example of a sector that's seeing much higher economic leverage is white-collar work serving high-cost-of-living countries/cities from within lower-cost-of-living countries/cities. E.g. English-speaking workers from our neighbor Mexico where real income per capita is only 28% of the US's, can now create more value on their time by working from home and copy editing articles, or doing phone customer service, or graphic design, and even management-level work like marketing strategy and project management.

Unfortunately remote workers' leverage increase here is partly zero-sum because it decreases the economic leverage that local workers get from their location. But it's actually positive sum because poorer people tend to benefit from a wealth transfer more than richer people lose. It's also positive sum because some jobs are only worth paying below the local living wage. E.g. a San Francisco company might be able to afford paying $12/hr for a customer service representative, which is far below cost of living in the SF Bay Area, but not bad in Mississippi.

Remote work has also created higher leverage on the value of everyone's haven't-gotten-dressed time or currently-babysitting time, regardless of their previous baseline.

Also note that one type of remote white-collar work is programming. Companies hiring their in-house software engineers offshore to work remotely, or contracting with offshore software consultancies, is also an increasingly common practice which is helping other economies and raising US GDP while reducing US programmer salaries, but the US salary effect is small because the whole world's programmer supply is still not keeping pace with global demand growth.

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