River of time

“Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.”

Principles, Ray Dalio.

We live in a universe where the temporal direction doesn’t offer us the same amount of freedom as it does with spatial directions. Time, as we know it, is a dimension we only experience in a single direction. This is also referred to as an arrow of time and is closely related to the…

We know that we’re supposed to listen more than talk. Doing this well is called effective or active listening. For some reason, I thought that this means that in conversations one should be somewhat passive, give space to the other person and let them guide the conversation. Though this can be powerful in specific situations (e.g. the other person needs to vent) it can be really slow and ineffective in most cases. So instead of being passive, I’ve become active by asking the questions.

During this process, I’ve understood that asking the questions is a very difficult skill to learn…

The reality is that for organizations to be successful, work needs to get done by multiple people owning different areas or verticals. As such it is fairly common for large projects to exceed the project manager's ability to provide sufficient attention to everything going on.

“If I went to my board and told them that I need to do either sales or marketing, and asked them which of those I should do, I’d be laughed out of the room. I need to do both, just like you need to do both!”

- Fictional CEO (The Phoenix Project)

Even a competent…

This post is inspired by Ray Dalio’s book “Principles”.


My principles format does not follow Ray Dalio’s exactly and is more rigid.

  • Axiom — Universally and timelessly true as the base truth.
  • Philosophy — Ideas that are in-sync with achieving maximum leverage out of said axiom.
  • Generator — Question, thought exercise or mindset that will guide to the right decision/tactic to take.
  • Tactic — A short sequence of actions to maximize the expected return of a situation or get started with the said generator.
  • Decision — Single, non-generalizable action in the world.

How to read the format:

Axiom 1: Axiom

Philosophy 1.1: Philosophy

Generator 1.1.1: Title — a more thorough explanation or tactics.

Axiom 1: Making an optimal learning-exploit tradeoff will maximize utility.

Philosophy 1.1: Recognize where you stand in terms of this tradeoff.

Recognizing where you stand will allow…

Ideas in this post aren’t as shiny as this lightbulb, but they do their job better than alternatives.

1. Scale drives machine learning progress

When we say “scale”, it generally means two different things:

1.1 Computational scale

Also known as the amount of available computation available for use. Generally, the more compute is available, the more easily machine learning tasks can be solved. It has been just recently that people started training neural networks large enough to take advantage of all the data we have in the world.

There are also interesting counterexamples, such as Starship technologies, that are using low-compute platforms to do things generally not solvable by current algorithms. …

Answers to questions I frequently get asked in interviews. I am Machine Learning lead in the Automation team at Veriff, a start-up that has hit hyper-growth and has grown from 30 to 300 people within a year — that’s 22.5 people per month on average!

Questions in this blog post are composed of interview notes I’ve gathered over the course of multiple months mainly hiring for data scientist positions in the Automation team.

When we hit headcount of 100. We didn’t have time to celebrate the next hundreds.

What are the expectations of a candidate after several months of work?

We are expecting each new joiner to on-board within a week or two by completing an introductory assignment (simple project ensuring all accesses and understanding of the…

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular management strategy for goal setting within organizations. The purpose of OKRs is to connect company, team, and personal goals to measurable results while having all team members and leaders work together in one, unified direction.

This post will cover how effective and detrimental OKR implementations look like, how to draft good ones and what should one keep in mind after they have been implemented. …

Joonatan Samuel

Organiser of people, builder of software.

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