Hello, world! My name is Devon. I’m a writer (of code and words). The thing I care most about is unlocking human potential, so I think a lot about incentive design, tools for thought, and cities.
These days, I am building lending protocols on the blockchain at Bloom and producing a yet-unannounced interview series with computing pioneers. I also bluster on and on write about land use policy. Previously, I was Editor in Chief at the Stanford Review, and I was a software engineer at Affirm.
In my free time, I read weird blogs, take public transit, and train for triathlons. I love reasoning about, improving, and designing systems and infrastructure.
I update this page in a sporadic and unceremonious fashion.
Strong opinions, weakly held
- You can find optimistic art about cities on my Twitter feed
- The way we live is shaped by our infrastructure, so it’s important to get it right. At the same time, infrastructure is systematically undervalued. This is bad, but on the bright side it means that infrastructure of all types is a high-leverage place to devote your energy.
- Individual liberty is the single most important value that society should uphold.
- I’m more utilitarian and communitarian now.
- I still believe we should be extremely skeptical of sacrificing individual liberties for the sake of a greater good (in practice if not in theory), but I no longer hold liberty as sacrosanct.
- All of your views need to be internally consistent.
- This is still something to aim for, but I no longer believe we should sacrifice all intuitions for the sake of consistency.
- If you enforce consistency above all else, you’re likely to be totally wrong about everything. If even just one of your base assumptions is slightly wrong, the entirety of your world view that is based on these assumptions is now incorrect.
- Powerful type systems make programming more fun.
- Unambiguous Webpack config with Typescript on the Webpack blog
An abridged list of things I want to learn more about:
- Coordination problems
- Urban planning, especially transportation
- Especially things that generalize between disciplines
- Design patterns
- Tools for thought
- Bret Victor’s Ladder of Abstraction
- Michael Nielsen's call to incorporate emotional impact, change habits of mind, and reduce the burden on people's short-term working memory
- Steve Jobs' description of computers as "bicycles for the mind" doesn't go far enough
- Ethics and meta ethics
- What’s your utility function? Really! Let me know!
- Health, nutrition, and fitness
- Synthetic biology
- Bio fuels
- Transhumanism and the idea that humanity is a "work in progress"
- I’m really bad at it, but I like food
- The history of language
- Natural language processing (NLP)
- Rationality and biases
- Group and organizational
- Cryptography, stenography, and information theory
The internet can be pretty faceless. Sometimes that’s what you want, but it’s not what I’m going for here.
One strong opinion that I do not hold weakly: dogs are the best
Pretty sure there will never be a better photo taken of me again
As cool as it’d be, I’m not a child prodigy. So to avoid being misleading, here’s a more recent photo
I post images of things I find beautiful to Instagram, usually almost-still videos of city streets but also other things.