2018: Conferences and events I attended and what I learned

Moving to San Francisco in May 2018 made it possible for me to go to a lot of amazing and educational events and conferences. In order of quality of the conferences, I’ll list the conferences and events I went to and the highlights from them:

  1. BrainMind Summit 2018. A wonderful event with talks from pioneers in the field. I learned so much and made new friends. 
  2. SynBioBeta 2018. I attended it during my birthday to learn more about synthetic biology. I learned about a few biotech companies, researchers in the field, and more, but didn’t go in-depth on anything. 
  3. SF Debate Club. Started by Saku and Zak. The first debate topic was whether China’s technology is a threat to Silicon Valley and the US (I think it’s not). The second debate was whether the great stagnation is real (I think it is). 
  4.  1517fund workshop. One day long discussion group on some readings from Peter Thiel’s Stanford class on globalization
  5. Modern Microscopy: 20th and 21st-century breakthroughs in biology. Interesting topic; unengaging speaker.
  6. TechCrunch Disrupt 2018. Got a free ticket from my friend, Amulya who won the Disrupt hackathon! I could only attend one of the days and it was a big “meh”. I didn’t learn anything substantial from the various talks, didn’t meet anyone interesting, and just went home after 6 hours of rushing around to attend talks and workshops and getting lots of swag from Startup Alley (:P). I think TC Disrupt is like the Times Square in NYC — a platform that gets people to pay for companies to market themselves under the veil of entertainment (in case of Times Square) or education (in case of Disrupt). I’m sure I’d have gotten a lot of value if I had a startup and was presenting at the Startup Alley. But if you’re going to TC Disrupt to learn something, prepare to be disappointed. Most talks are just founders promoting their startups with a buzzword every few seconds.

In addition to the conferences and events mentioned above, the group house I live in, Topos, organizes a dinner every Sunday where we learn from each other. We also invite experts to give a talk and host Q/A with them. We had Glen Weyl who gave a talk before the launch of his book, Radical Markets, Hollis Robbins who led a wonderful dinner on poetry, etc. I personally invited Tyler Cowen and Ron Schnell to give talks at Topos! 

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