About

Hi! I'm Kanjun ("can-june"). I enjoy creating teams, institutions, cultures, words, and code.

I believe humanity has tremendous latent potential, both individually and collectively. To this end, I'm interested in enabling greater agency, creativity, and abundance—particularly through transforming our beliefs, our understanding of the world, and our understanding of ourselves.

Current work

  • My main focus is Generally Intelligent, an AI research company working directly on human-like general intelligence. My job is to understand how minds understand, and it's the best thing in the world :). Machines as intelligent as humans will be one of the most important technologies ever built—and help us understand the most fascinating mystery of all: our own minds. If you find this interesting, we're hiring!
  • With Michael Nielsen, I'm working on essays investigating the processes, progress, and science of science.
  • With Jason Benn and our housemates from The Archive, I'm building a Neighborhood in San Francisco—a university campus for modern adult living with lively intellectual culture and best friends you can grow old with.
  • With Ali Rohde and Josh Albrecht at Outset Capital, I invest in early-stage startup founders. Our mission is to support kind and capable founders in doing their life’s work. If you are (or plan to be) one, feel free to drop me a line!
  • With my cofounder Josh Albrecht, I host podcast conversations with deep learning researchers about the behind-the-scenes ideas, opinions, and intuitions that they wouldn't normally discuss in a typical paper or talk.

Past work

  • I co-founded and was CEO of Sourceress, an AI recruiting company that went through YC and raised $13M.
  • I co-founded and lived at The Archive, which you can learn about on the Today Show.
  • I grew Dropbox from 300 to 1500 people as Chief of Staff after college, and was fortunate to get the equivalent of a business school education along the way.
  • I co-authored Sew Electric, a book that teaches kids programming using sewable electronics, and tinkered with hardware at the MIT Media Lab.
  • I danced competitively at MIT, and today I dance as much as I can.

Questions

Questions I'm currently curious about (mostly pointers, not precisely specified):

  • Why did dinosaurs exist for 165 million years without reaching advanced civilization?
  • Humans are pre-trained via evolution, but able to learn a wide variety of new things during our lifetimes. How can we enable artificial agents to permanently learn new abstractions and processes? How important is this?
  • Animals copy each other relentlessly to learn behaviors efficiently (since other animals serve as a prefilter on behavior); is this helpful or unnecessary in artificial agents?
  • What is knowledge? How does it get constructed? What enables it to accumulate?
  • Are there inherent tradeoffs to generality that can't be overcome with more compute?
  • What is anxiety? What is trauma? What is agency, autonomy, authenticity, curiosity? What are values, skills, stories?
  • What is culture? How does culture develop, and how does cultural change happen in groups, organizations, and societies?
  • What are the generating functions for human behavior? Why do we develop the motivations we do?
  • How, mechanistically, does life pursue reducing local entropy?
  • What are beliefs? Why do they develop? Why do they change?
  • What determines the level of agency someone feels? Why do some people have significantly more agency than others?
  • Why are curiosity and goal-orientation often at odds?
  • What are the fundamental variables in psychology?
  • What are the tools we're missing for progress in psychology? What is the equivalent of lenses and microscopes?
  • What will healthy child-rearing look like in 300 years?

If you're interested in discussing, feel free to DM me on Twitter!

Interests

Some things I enjoy learning and talking about:

  • Romantic transhumanism
  • Learning, and technologies for thought & progress (e.g. memexes etc.)
  • Science, and the process of discovery & knowledge construction
  • Institutions
  • Understanding human minds & agency
  • Creating mavericks
  • What enables some groups to do extraordinary things (readings: 1, 2)
  • Collective intelligence & scenius
  • Social technologies & social literacy
  • Optimistic narratives
  • How to make progress on coordination problems
  • Cities & environment design