Some nitpicking:

> knowledge from open sourced papers

Other than very principaled os quacks everyone uses scihub and LibGen, no os needed

> They create all sorts of abominations like genetically modified beer and animals that glow like jellyfish.

While gmo beer is nice, I should note that bioluminescence is the most bannal and boring thing in lab biology. People do it because you essentially get "for dummies" guide about making anything and everything bioluminescencent. That is because it's critical for many experiments so we're really good at it. But it's equivalent to writing an http.server in programming, everybody can do it in the 20s, even grandma.


On the whole though, it seems that the obvious difference between the two stories is that the requirements in the former are fuzzier.

It may well have cost DARPA less to draw up entirely new nuke designs, or a whole new WMD program... but it might have proved problematic to change in other ways

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Oct 31, 2021Liked by Rohit Krishnan

>I taught my son how to ride his bike by explaining how it works broadly, letting his play with it, and encouraging when he did the right things

..reminded me of this: https://www.dougengelbart.org/content/view/236/158/

Unsure if that is of any help now or not ;)

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Oct 30, 2021Liked by Rohit Krishnan

> Turns out it's really bloody hard to replicate an organisation.

The farther I go in my career, the more wary I am of jobs that promise a unique culture. I'm wary even if I agree with how it's unique or fit for the company.

In these cases, the risks outweigh the benefits. At best, I learn to work in new ways which make me successful here but not anywhere else, and make me less valuable in the future. Or I don't and I fail.

Or just go somewhere there's less of a "unique approach".

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Oct 26, 2021Liked by Rohit Krishnan

The same thing happened at the NUMMI[0] plant. Despite Toyota sharing all its secrets, GM couldn't replicate the production process

0: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/561/transcript

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My suspicion is that the DoE had the full process already and didn't want to junk it for a new one, that's why they had to try their best to recreate the missing foam element. On the other hand the PHDs came up with their own process so there was much more latitude to freely experiment.

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Constructing a nuke is easy. Accumulating sufficient fissile material without drawing unwanted attention is costly. Several millions USD.

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Interesting article and reminds of this article https://danwang.co/how-technology-grows/ that also talks about process knowledge that is often hard to articulate, forget replicating.

I think we need to understand what is the base rate at which any group of smart people can generate great outcomes. While the freshly minted Phds did successfully build a nuke ( not at all an ordinary feat), would this same set of people been able to produce a similarly stellar outcome in their next assignment. One could argue, there is an element of randomness at play, that would make great outcomes hard to come by, even if we were able to master the art of replicating organizational culture. Perhaps, teams end up building bench strength with each new project, and eventually produce something remarkable that is much greater than the sum of their previous experiences/output.

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