As inflation continues to take its toll on everyone’s investments as well as steak dinner (psst – get the rotisserie chicken at Costco instead), Silicon Valley is clearly in a state of transition. Startups have been told to tighten their belts financially. Layoffs in big tech companies have begun. “Growth” ventures are failing to get follow-on funding, primarily in the consumer space and media (in Substack’s case, they’re also proving the old adage that no one pays attention to writers).
But for every easy money gambit that’s falling out of the sky, there is hope for the dreamer and rogue. Venture firms are still collecting money hand-over-fist from desperate Limiteds eager to get some return with the stock market slowing. Folks with money want to make more money. There are lots of them.
Of course, this doesn’t directly help the small entrepreneur. Big Venture (TM) doesn’t fund the small fry inventing neat technologies anymore — they have too many Series D unicorn mouths to feed. Big tech companies are no longer a safe bet — they may fire you and escort you unceremoniously out the door without any warning. In hard times, loyalty is not its own reward.
But there are a lot of individual investors out there who can drop $1M on a neat tech idea. All the startups William and I founded started with a dream, some code, and a handshake during lousy economic times. They were funded precisely because making easy money on scams and gambits have evaporated.
So if you’ve got a good hard tech project, now may be the best time to go for it. The cash is still plentiful. Just play it cool. It worked for us. It can work for you.
And speaking of distributed memory, a new study from MIT describes the mammalian brain as storing memory, not densely in a few regions, but instead loosely across many regions of the brain. This makes sense in a way. It’s a lot easier to completely lose a memory if it’s in one or a few locations than spread throughout the brain. Also, storing memories in larger “chunks” would result in a lot of wasted storage space since a memory is of varying size. Indirect references to each memory element, even if a few are lost, are more efficient than directly physically mapping a memory.
It does explain the dreamlike aspect of memories, doesn’t it? And also perhaps memories which are completely wrong but feel entirely real and true. Likely we lose a lot of these references that fill in some of the blanks over time. Associated elements, like smell, can track back along a pathway to a memory to give the gist of it, but it may be only a shadow of what was actually recorded.
But is the brain’s memory sparsely allocated as well? It may well be given this highly distributed storage across many parts of the brain. Sparse allocation is common in operating systems because it is usually faster and overall more efficient. But it can use more total memory than that of a densely allocated memory mechanism if most of the elements contain non-repeatable data. Are most of our memories just collages of a few meaningful pieces and a lot of filler? Perhaps dreams look odd precisely because they are just stray strands of sparse referents to redundant memories garbage collected by the brain and reallocated for use.
To dream. Perchance to sleep. Now that is the question.