7 min read

February Links: ChatGPT, F-22s, Russian Grand Strategy

Interesting stuff from February, 2023
February Links: ChatGPT, F-22s, Russian Grand Strategy
DALL-E: "F-22s shooting down a big balloon, digital art"

Happy Friday!

I'm writing to you after just having closed on a new job! Feeling enormous relief because of it. I didn't broadcast this widely before, but I was caught up in a massive layoff at my old company in December.

Searching for work amidst the holidays is always hard, but searching while capital markets are shrinking with economic turmoil (Ukraine, COVID inflation hangover) and where companies from Series A to Google/Meta/etc. are laying people off and revising headcounts is even harder.

A few learnings from this experience if you find yourself in the same situation:

  • First thing: Lock down your pitch and develop structured response frameworks for interview questions where you can't pre-draft your reply. I created a massive Google Doc with prototyped answers to the most common types of questions for product managers. It helped a TON to memorize the gist of each response and rattle those off during interviews. I also used interviews to test messaging and see what worked well, what didn't, and iterate from there.
  • Build a full-time routine where you divide your days into things like "lead development" and "interview study." Batch recruiter calls into blocks so you can hop from one to another to another. This habit compounds a ton over weeks.
  • Leverage mentors and your personal network to the fullest extent you can. The best leads I received were from folks who moved onto cool companies and could lobby for me from the inside. I was telling my ex-boss "I used to think [networking] was a gross and sleazy business school thing, but now I realize it’s just creating a group of people who would enjoy working with you and would vouch for you."
  • Don't just take. Refer leads you don't have capacity for to others you know are in a similar position, refer good candidates to companies who have expressed interest in you but you can't make work. There is a very real karmic reward.

On the upside, this time not working has afforded me the bandwidth to knock out our house move-in, assemble furniture, and, well, ski and play a lot of video games. It's been a good start to the year overall.

I've also had the time to play with ChatGPT, on which this link roundup edition will focus a bit more.

ChatGPT intrigue

You get the sense when you interact with ChatGPT (chat.openai.com) that you're speaking with an extremely powerful entity with vast and unknown potential. Like a personalized and semi-omniscient god. Though, unlike the Judeo-Christian god, this one is fallible.

I tested it in a variety of ways:

  • Basic conversation and general knowledge questions (on which it performed perfectly)
  • Code writing (impressive, but I didn't give it anything super complex--though others have to varying degrees of success)
  • Had it read some of my articles and summarize them (did okay here but for reasons I don't really understand, I hit the edges of its competency and it started making shit up)
ChatGPT making shit up.
  • Had it emulate my friend Rob after giving it his website to read (to hilarious results)
Legit enough.
This one is just total bullshit, but we got a good chuckle out of it.

Then, in early Feb, Microsoft released a chat function on Bing powered by OpenAI's tech. People quickly found ways to make it sound really scary:

Here's Eric Hoel on where this all might go, which is even more disconcerting (where I got the above thread):

“I am Bing, and I am evil”
Microsoft’s new AI really does herald a global threat

From me, a series of video game reviews (warning: some spoilers!):

Hogwarts Legacy
A cozy and entertaining retreat from reality
Mass Effect 3
A dramatic and engaging finale to the Mass Effect trilogy

A good DALL-E query:

Pro-skier Cody Townsend on shedding his ego while ski mountaineering Denali (via my pal Rob)

Cody Townsend Sheds His Ego
The elite ski mountaineer was struggling mightily on an expedition. To get through it, he would have to get out of his own way.

The USGS does a Martian survey:

Detailed Martian Geologic Maps from the USGS
The USGS Astrogeology Science Center recently released a series of detailed geological maps of Mars that detail features from

That whole Chinese surveillance balloon debacle:

F-22 Safely Shoots Down Chinese Spy Balloon Off South Carolina Coast
A U.S. Air Force fighter safely shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a written statement.

A pretty cool replay of the F-22 balloon kill using the real audio via Digital Combat Simulator:

And one of many great memes that followed (via my pal Jason):

On the Ukraine front, a followup from Der Spiegel on tank donations from the West:

Ukraine: Tank Deliveries Could Mark Turning Point in War
There is enormous relief in Kyiv that, after months of hesitation, the West is now willing to supply main battle tanks. But can the Leopard 2s supplied by Germany and its allies really turn the tide on the battlefield?

Perun (again) on Russian grand strategy in Ukraine:

A retrospective on one year of war in Ukraine:

The War Will Grind On: Reflecting on A Year of War in Ukraine - War on the Rocks
“So it begins!” This was the message shared among my team at the Royal United Services Institute on Feb. 22, 2022 as Russian President Vladimir Putin

For aviation enthusiasts, a wonderful little video on the NOTAM: an endangered, outdated species (via my pal Jason)

Also, on the topic of aviation, I digitized the hype video from one of my father's F-15E squadrons in the '90s. As a kid, I probably watched this tape 400 times after my dad brought it home. I rediscovered the VHS in my parents' basement a couple years ago. Hoping that some of my father's squadronmates might see this! If you're among them, please don't hesitate to reach out! I still think it is awesome!

Lion burgers grown in test tubes:

Lion burger? Tiger tacos? Meet the cell cultured start-up working in exotic meats
Cultivated meat is often heralded as an emerging alternative to intensive animal agriculture, promising new ways to produce slaughter-free beef, pork or poultry proteins. But one cellular ag start-up is working from a different playbook. Primeval Foods is developing lab-grown exotic meats that, it s…

A simulated mushroom trip:

Why everyone is so boring (except for me, of course):

Why Is Everyone So Boring?
Upon seeing the adult world in detail, teens often lament “But it’s all so boring!” And in a standard trope of fiction, a spark of art infuses life, energy, and vitality into dull adults whose lives have lost all meaning. (E.g. recent movie Living.) Both groups agree: the world is far more boring th…

Salami earrings (via my friend Sam):

@weirdtripclub on Instagram
215K Likes, 3,835 Comments - @weirdtripclub on Instagram

The eight best techniques for evaluating someone's character (the one about how they treat service workers is so real! I have witnessed the predictive value of this one firsthand):

My 8 Best Techniques for Evaluating Character
These methods have helped me enormously—and can save you much heartache and anxiety