We're finally done with our application review process, and have assembled what we think is a very interesting cohort of 33 core and affiliate researchers from over 300 high-quality applications. An interesting detail: we had around 50 self-funded applicants, of whom 3 are part of the cohort. The problem of composing a high-chemistry cohort with potential for mutual collaboration, and our own program management bandwidth, turned out to be more important constraints than either the budget or application quality.
We'll introduce the cohort next week after we get them onboarded, but for this week's newsletter, we want to put the spotlight on what we think is the actual heart and soul of the Summer of Protocols: the permissionless ecosystem part. While the formal program is exciting, and we hope it will produce great work, the most important piece of the puzzle for us to have a significant impact is the informal part. We see the Summer of Protocols as a small, scrappy, underdog group of researchers -- which includes anyone who wants to be part of it -- taking on a moonshot of a problem: protocolizing the world. This is a 21st century challenge comparable to that of industrializing the world in the 19th century. While our formal program will hopefully produce some of what this will take, the bulk of the challenge lies with people who are not in the program, but can hopefully be inspired and supported by it.
How do we do that? We're just beginning to figure it out, beginning with the conversations going on in the Discord. In this spotlight issue, we are including a video and a few links to help you think about the challenge of pulling off permissionless moonshots.
Theories of Causality by Nancy Cartwright
Discoursed (Thoughts from the SoP server)
"Maybe this is obvious, but I had a sudden realization that a shit-ton of comedy is about protocol failures, and protocol mechanics -- Seinfeld especially was practically a textbook on this, its followup Curb Your Enthusiasm even more so. It's practically all the characters talk about."
- Mike Travers
Protocols in Screen Media Discord Thread
Permissionless Research - Recent musing from Venkatesh on the nature of research
Paul Feyerabend - A retrospective on the science philosopher provocateur
Retroactive Public Goods Funding - It’s easier to agree on what was useful than what will be useful