Last updated as of 2021 November 29.

  • Physics! CMU— In undergrad, no plans to go to graduate school
  • Working on a startup with my friend Jerry Ye where we’re trying to create small live liberal arts classes that have more guidance than books clubs, more interactivity than Coursera, and more focus and flexibility than university courses. We call it Liberated Arts. Currently on hiatus as we wait for our professor to have more time, but sign-ups are open.
  • Finished reading An Everyone Culture, thinking about how to implement this in my pursuits and how I can develop myself in this way.
  • Running Carnegie Mellon EA (Strategic Social Impact at CMU).
  • Thinking about running more summer camps. Context below.
  • Dating my delightful girlfriend. — She draws the wonderful art on this website, too.

Questions I’m pondering

Last updated as of 2021 November 29.

  • How do I continue to develop?
  • I imagine there are worlds (social circles, philosophies, etc.) that, if I knew they existed, I would be captivated by. I have found a few so far, but there are likely many that I don’t know that I don’t know about. Where are they?
  • I am on track to graduate with around $70,000 - $130,000 of student loans. I feel nervous about this. How will this resolve?
  • How do I do everything I want to do with the limited time I have? How do I make more time? (Note that while I understand that trying to do lots of things and be busy can easily be unhealthy, this doesn’t feel that way to me and I do think I enjoy doing so intrinsically.) Alternatively, how do I better prioritize how I spend my time?
  • What would be best for me to do after I graduate? See section below.
  • To what extent is improving culture and/or education a lever that can feasibly significantly improve the world? And why have attempts thus far failed?
  • How can exceptionally productive collaborations/teams be created?
  • Towards the aim of developing myself as a generalist, what can I learn that other people in that are nominally similar to me won’t be interested in learning? E.g. contrast physics with operations; or physics with organizational psychology; or what with what else?
  • I am excited to eventually have kids. How do I raise children such that they grow up being ~naturally enlightened? To be pondered for a long while.
  • What questions should be be asking, but I don’t (yet) know how to ask?

What I’ve done in the past

Last updated as of 2021 August.

Befriended a few chipmunks (2020)

Had chipmunks climb ladders to feed them from a spoon.

Ran Uncommon Sense Seminar (2021 August)

A friend and I created a new summer camp to teach high school students critical thinking skills. We received a grant to run the event for a week in California, free for everyone involved. It went surprisingly well! I’m considering running more projects like this.

Worked on NOVID strategy with Po-Shen Loh (2021)

NOVID represents a superior way to do contact tracing, but COVID is the wrong pandemic for this.

Made a science video, No Use Crying Over Mixed Milk (2020)

Exploring the science of entropy.

This website (2020+)

About its style, drafting, and design.

What I might do in the future

Last updated as of 2021 November.

  • Some people make grand, multi-step plans for their future. Not me— I don’t think I would be able to stick to a plan— there’s just too much that I don’t know that I don’t know. Instead, I am following an algorithm of “keep doing the next most interesting thing”. Also, as I’m also trying to develop myself as a generalist, this is one way I lean in that direction.
  • Definitely not grad school or fundamental physics research.
  • Overall, I think I would be surprised if I didn’t end up organizing or running something.
  • Thinking about running more rationality summer camps similar to Uncommon Sense.
  • Note that I think I am currently ‘snipeable’ in the sense that I could be compelled to drop out of university to work full-time on a project if constraints were satisfied.
  • … ? Let me know.

Other notes about myself

Last updated as of 2021 November.

  • I seem to have some autistic tendencies— namely, while I consider myself to often be intensely sociable, I don’t always automatically pick up new social patterns. However, once a pattern is accentuated to me and once I see it, I can then make it a habit easily. But the initially seeing it part isn’t quite automatic.
  • I can often be shy when I first meet new people; e.g. I will lean more towards listening than speaking. But I open up quickly if I get the signal that I’m surrounded by curious people. I am an extrovert with the right people.
  • I prefer one-on-one interactions to group interactions.
  • My body seems to have trouble when I eat most plants, so I end up eating mostly meat instead.
  • Stoicism works quite well for me.

Drawing © Ariana Dyer.

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If there’s anything else you’d like to know about me or about any of my essays—or even if you just want to chat—

contact me by email, Chris@ChrisLakin.com

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