I was reading about this guy, Vitalik Buterin, who is supposed to be some super-smart crypto guy. There’s an infestation of them in the dudebro community.
Buterin comes from a long tradition of Silicon Valley special smart boys, who have had it hammered into them that domain expertise — i.e., actually knowing stuff — pales into insignificance compared to pulling ideas out of your backside by virtue of your superior intelligence and upbringing and social position.
He was taught this by other Silicon Valley special smart boys. Peter Thiel literally paid Buterin not to go to college any more, based on this theory — that one special smart boy reasoning from first principles will surely beat the accumulated experience and wisdom of mere humanity.
There are a million of these guys, and they all have long and wordy blogs.
Ooh, that’s mean. But if you’re like me, you want to know you can know how out of touch with reality they might be. Maybe they actually are really smart guys, you know. But here’s an example of thinking out of the box. Get a good grip on your jaw before it rolls under the table.
Before founding Ethereum, Buterin put considerable effort in 2013 into trying to convince investors to fund him in constructing a quantum computer. (Note that no quantum computers able to solve practical problems are verified as existing as of early 2017.) His plan was to use this quantum computer to solve computationally infeasible problems that can’t be done practically on an ordinary computer, such as reversing cryptographic hash functions.
Since he didn’t know how to build a quantum computer, his plan was to simulate one on an ordinary computer – since this apparently wouldn’t count as just running a program to solve the impossible problem. This was an idea that had long been put forward by Jordan Ash, his associate in this endeavour, who had put considerable effort into this startlingly crank mathematical notion.
How do you reveal that you know nothing about ordinary computing and nothing about quantum computing at the same time? I wonder if Peter Thiel would reward him with a big grant for this idea.