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In an essay I wrote for high school students, I said a good rule of thumb was to stay upwind-- to work on things that maximize your future options.

The principle applies for adults too, though perhaps it has to be modified to: stay upwind for as long as you can, then cash in the potential energy you've accumulated when you need to pay for kids.

That will generally work unless you get trapped on a local maximum, like 1980s-style AI, or C.

Upwind So far, we've reduced the problem from thinking of a million dollar idea to thinking of a mistaken question. To generate such questions you need two things: to be familiar with promising new technologies, and to have the right kind of friends.

Which means, in the narrow sense of the word, that startup ideas are worthless.

Questions The fact is, most startups end up nothing like the initial idea.

Some say that’s a billion dollar “recession proof” opportunity.

But make no mistake about it, this is a tough and oversaturated market to enter at this stage.

However, because 99 out of 100 fail, and because some have an unsavory reputation, you won’t find many Angel or VC investors who are interested.They're filled with new technologies, because they're trying to produce research, and only things that are new count as research.And they're full of exactly the right kind of people to have ideas with: the other students, who will be not only smart but elastic-minded to a fault.One valuable way for an idea to be wrong is to be only a partial solution.When someone's working on a problem that seems too big, I always ask: is there some way to bite off some subset of the problem, then gradually expand from there?

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