i grew up in troy, michigan, a suburb of detroit -- a very different world from the valley. one of the traits i find common to people from the area is a strong sense of home, and the urge to fight brain drain or "revive" the city. detroit is built on an industry that may or may not be relevant in fifty years, and is currently in the midst of major urban redesign, so it's definitely an interesting area to think about.
i'd say my summer at a trading firm was probably my single most formative experience in the way i think, and i carry those lessons everywhere. not only did it endow me with a lot of finance knowledge, but it taught me a lot about adverse selection and being indifferent to variance -- both lessons that have been invaluable in every facet of my life, not just finance. it also gave me an incredibly powerful framework to think about almost anything data driven, especially financials, valuations, and market choices.
much as i value tech products because they scale to large numbers of people, i believe that writing is the inherently scalable way to talk to a lot of people. i try to write down things i'm thinking about, as well as resources or articles i find interesting, and share them with friends - my favorite medium for them is quip. i'm also very thankful to have the opportunity to work with a fund in the valley on formulating, writing, and sharing a fintech thesis for them - it's a space i think a lot about. occasionally i'll write something good enough that i'll post it online - in april, i wrote a brief 101 on the panama papers which hit the front page of medium, around 500 recommends, and was published in swarajya, a major indian liberal magazine.
since arriving at stanford, i've taken a strong interest in design, which i define as "the choices we make about the world we want to live in." i started working with the stanford d.school on undergrad outreach, and since have been lucky enough to work on various education projects with them, including stanford2025 and an online k-12 design thinking curriculum. while design thinking consistently gets mixed reviews, truly understanding people and their problems is at its core, and something i strongly believe is a key component to any effective design choice.
i love software and tech, but i think a lot about the problems that arise when we build things in a vacuum. tech built for tech has its place, but i find building technology for systems such as education, finance, or government far more fulfilling. i believe that we are in the middle of a fundamental shift, and we are seeing modern technology make its way into industries and systems that are not directly related to the software field.
i got involved with hackathons on accident -- a friend needed some last-minute extra hands for the first treehacks, and asked for my operational expertise. i fell in love, more with the team than the event, and came back to run finances, admissions, social media, and logistics; now, i've helped out with other hackathons as well as treehacks -- cal hacks, hackoverflow, and big hack. i'm also currently working on releasing the stack of software (mostly excel...) i use to keep hackathon data organized behind the scenes.
at stanford, my primary area of study is artificial intelligence. it's been both incredibly enlightening and a little disappointing at the same time. while i'm excited by the prospects (self-driving cars are of particular interest, although human-in-the-loop training methods and computer vision for augmented reality are also super exciting), it has been a little disappointing to learn that the next technology revolution is likely to be driven by pattern matching, random initialization, and gradient descent. that's obviously an oversimplification and i have a lot to learn, but i continue to wonder if a deep dive into neuroscience will unlock new ways for computers to "learn."