“I think the essence of science—what really makes it so much fun—is to do what others aren’t doing…rather than doing what everyone else in the pack is flocking to…I think it’s a problem when the word ‘useful’ is treated as a synonym for something that can be commercialized in the next few years.”

–Yoshinori Ohsumi

Japanese biologist and winner
of 2016 Nobel Prize in
physiology or medicine
for elucidations on cellular waste recycling (autophagy)
and the body’s ability to recycle proteins


Here is a robotic bartender solution by some Georgia Tech entrepreneurs recently presented at Disrupt SF 2013. With its precision mixology it calls up the Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machine that dispenses over a hundred drinks that also launched in Atlanta a few years ago. The design addresses a whole social drinking experience for both proprietors and social drinkers: This includes inventory management and planning, servicers, quality, hygiene, customization, responsible consumption and even taxi hailing to get home. Its main value appears around increased management efficiency and business analytics, particularly for lucrative customers; reduced service time; increased order accuracy; and drink consistency.

This is the most sober 2 minutes on Silicon Valley entrepreneurship I’ve read. Losse’s is the awareness that escaped the start-up of You; Lean Inthe founding of Draper University For Heroes; enamorment with Steve Jobs’ journey; some idealism of Peter Thiel; and nearly every venture story churned out on the Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley-based VC Tim Draper was interviewed on venturing and heroes. Draper is a 3rd generation venture capitalist and grandson of the founder of California’s first VC firm. His firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) has funded a range of technology firms including Baidu, Overture and Tesla Motors. He is founder of the Draper University Of Heroes where heroes take a daily oath and required reading includes Ayn Rand and Donald Trump. (Incidentally, Trump’s own academy, Trump University, has just been named in a lawsuit for effectively being a for-profit academic ruse. Draper, whose firm oversees around a $7 billion portfolio defended the cost of attendance in his own academy as being particularly less than Stanford University.)

Discussion considers the state of U.S. venture capital and whether American innovation is dying in Silicon Valley or beyond. Fair questions challenging Draper’s assumptions on venturing are posed, if unanswered, particularly starting at 34:43. Draper’s replies can sound in analytical malpractice both for invoking and damning identical approaches to problem-solving. Examples include the following:

  • Draper offers without provocation that “socialism doesn’t work” though later concedes that national safety nets in general (single-payer health care systems, e.g.) can facilitate venturing by freeing risk-averse workers to leave “cushy” jobs to launch ventures.
  • In reversal, Draper suggests lures of conventional employer-sponsored health insurance are ineffective at preventing venturers from launching start-ups because of  abundant venture capital and other funding.
  • Reversing again Draper concedes the discussion at large and his ultimate complaint that venturing isn’t happening at a maximum rate because of risk aversion in would-be venturists, to the effect of his own launching of Draper University.
  • Draper curiously frames “taxes” as a resource for “people who are having troubles” vs. any resource for private enterprise via direct subsidies, federal infusions unavailable in the capital markets, industry write-downs, health research, infrastructure, or national defense.
  • Draper condemns large government for stifling entrepreneurship though claims start-ups are burdened by the power of big business with “cushy” government ties to thwart competition.

Here’s the most recent TED talk by Skylar Tibbits on 4D printing. The technology, which uses synthetic biology directed at self-assembling structures (similar to proteins), casts our current non-self-assembling built world as highly inefficient, and casts 4D printing with potential to revolutionize problem solving for the built environment.

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