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mucker capital book suggestion most human human

Suggested Read on Artificial Intelligence: The Most Human Human

mucker capital book suggestion most human human

As part of this summer’s reading, I recently finished The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive, by Brian Christian.

It was a wonderful read.

Written way way back in the dark ages of 2011, it predates the current AI and bot boom that we are beginning to see, which in my opinion brings a nice perspective.

Says Christian:

“The Most Human Human is an award given out each year at the Loebner Prize, the artificial intelligence (AI) community’s most controversial and anticipated annual competition. The event is what’s called a Turing test, in which a panel of judges conducts a series of five-minute-long chat conversations over a computer with a series of real people and with a series of computer programs pretending to be people by mimicking human responses. The catch, of course, is that the judges don’t know at the start who’s who, and it’s their job in five minutes of conversation to try to find out.

Each year, the program that does the best job of persuading the judges that it is human wins the Most Human Computer award and a small research grant for its programmers. But there’s also an award, strangely enough, for the human who does the best job of swaying the judges: the Most Human Human award.

British mathematician Alan Turing famously predicted in 1950 that computers would be passing the Turing test - that is, consistently fooling judges at least 30 percent of the time and as a result, generally considered to be intelligent in the human sense—by the year 2000. I decided to call up the test’s organizers and get involved in the 2009 contest as one of the human ‘confederates’—which meant I was both a part of the human ‘defense,’ trying to prevent the machines from passing the test, and also vying with my fellow confederates for that intriguing Most Human Human award. The book tells the story of my attempt to prepare, as well as I could, for that role: What exactly does it mean to ‘act as human as possible’ in a Turing test? And what does it mean in life?”


The-Most-Human-Human-Paperback-Front-CoverIt’s a riveting book, which explores what it means to actually be human. Easier to prove at this point in time, but as computers get smarter and smarter, the lines will most assuredly blur. We have come such a long way since Christian wrote this book, and we are only just beginning to see the way AI (or “bots” as the front-end of the technology is commonly referred to today) will shape our everyday lives.For the past year I’ve been fortunate to have been a beta user of, an AI driven meeting scheduler. My “assistant” Amy Ingram (A.I.), and I communicate multiple times each day via email, and “she” also communicates with everyone I set meetings with. In the past 365 days, she has scheduled over 600 meetings for me, with very few mistakes (far less than a human assistant would make). More impressive, I’d estimate that 8 times out of 10, the people who Amy communicates with do not realize that she is a bot.

Much has been written about Amy. Along with countless other beta users, I find myself writing “please” and “thank you” to her - even though she is just a robot and doesn’t “care” about those words. But to me, Amy such a crucial help to me and my work, and she communicates in such a “human” way that it would feel rude not to treat her the same way I would a human. Likewise, I’ve found that many of my contacts (even those who know she’s a bot) continue to treat her with kindness. There are stories about Amy receiving flowers and chocolates as well.

I find the world of AI and its applications to be most exciting, and I can’t wait for my first self-driving Tesla. At the same time, Christian’s book is a reminder about the importance of continued self-exploration, self-discovery, and the limitless potential of human invention.


peter-brackThis post originally appeared on Peter Brack's Medium. Peter is a Venture Advisor at Mucker. You can also follow him here on Twitter.

Brother From Another Mother: VCs and Rappers


Guest post by Mahbod Moghadam

Rappers want to be venture capitalists, venture capitalists want to be rappers: it is a tale as old as time. It totally makes sense, cause both rapper and VC are not actual professions - they are both kinda what you tell friends and family members you’re doing when you’re unemployed. Also, in both fields, appearance is everything. The rapper needs to have the tricked out Mercedes-Benz and the venture capitalist needs the Tesla with the “Carbon Footprint” limited edition 22-inch rims..

As former founder of Rap Genius and current founder of Mucker-based Everipedia (aka “Thug Wikipedia”) - I have dealt with a lot of capitalists as well as rappers. Sometimes, I can’t even tell them apart. In the case of Rap Genius board member / investor Ben Horowitz (aka “Emcee Tic Toc”) - he is in fact both… which got confusing, especially when he would wear the big gold chains to board meetings and stuff…

Below, I have listed some of my favorite rappers along with their VC “spirit animals” - please feel free to send me more suggestions to add to the list! (Tweet at me: @mahbodmoghadam)

John Doerr is…….. GUCCI MANE

John Doerr has been keeping a low profile recently, probably because Gucci Mane is in prison. But both of them will be making a strong comeback in 2016! Think about all of the young wannabe “struggle rappers / struggle venture capitalists” whom these men have inspired! Furthermore, John is from Saint Louis (ask his tattooist..) and attended Rice University - so he is reppin the d-d-dirty dirty South.

Paul Graham is……. DR DRE

PG is the composer of the beats for the entire West Coast - it is not about his own projects, it is about the culture he has inspired. Also he likes to floss and drives a cherry red Porsche - fuel efficiency be damned! He is very rich, just like Dr Dre after selling Beats by Dre to Apple. Rumor has it Jessica Livingston ghostwrites his verses! (You didn’t hear it from me tho..)

Jason Calacanis is…… RICK ROSS (rrrrrugh!)

Jason is the “Falstaff of tech” - he is a bon vivant through and through. Much like Rick Ross, his interests are not limited to tech - I could totally see him opening up a chicken wing chain like Rozay’s famed WingStop. Jason is the kind of investor who will share a 20-piece chicken wings with you and tell you exactly what he thinks of your product - he pulls no punches! Brutal, refreshing honesty. Rrrrugh!

Bill Gurley is……. AESOP ROCK

I was going to put GZA for Bill - the point I’m trying to make is, this dude is a thinking man venture capitalist - very rare in the VC world. Bill is the Marcus Aurelius of VC, the VC-philosopher.. much like Aesop Rock has the largest vocabulary in all of rap, Bill has the largest vocabulary of any venture capitalist (eventually Rap Genius will prove this…)

Marc Andreessen is…… 2PAC

I’m not just saying this cause they are both bald ok? Marc Andreessen is the definition of “thug life”. He is married to “The Princess of Silicon Valley” aka Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen - similar to how 2Pac was engaged to Quincy Jones’ daughter when he was shot to death. Andreessen’s passion for bitcoin is reminiscent of 2Pac’s “M.O.B.” philosophy. (ps Balaji Srinivasan is his Hussein Fatal in this metaphor..)

Prevailing Wisdom

Prevailing Wisdom
1994 – “Consumers are fickle and unpredictable. Consumer products and services are hit driven, it’s really hard to build a scalable consumer company”


1996 – “It’s impossible to get to build a billion dollar company selling widgets at $15 and taking $1 commission one at a time”


1998 – “There is no room for personal productivity software startups – Microsoft will eat your lunch when you get big enough and Symantec will take the crumbs”

(Evernote, Dropbox)

1999 – “The search engine game is over”


2002 – “the social network fad is over”

(Myspace, Facebook)

2002 – “Information Technology is not a competitive advantage”


2002 – “Consumer electronics is a low margin and highly competitive industry”


2003 – “The browser war is over, Microsoft has won”


2005 – “Sales cycle is too long for software companies selling to government and educational sector”


2008 – “RIP, Good Times”


2011 – “There is no network effect in the enterprise software business; it’s not a category we invest in anymore”

(Success Factor, Workday)

2013 – “Media and content is a hit driven business – we simply don’t invest in it”





200 First Dates

200 First Dates

I’m not a VC. I’m barely an investor. I’m a wanna be. I fall in love easily. I believe too naively. I don’t see hurdles I see a fun rubrik’s cube. I like taking the leap of faith because that’s what we are taught to do – go “change the world,” they all told me (I also like to spread the blame). Despite the fact that most leaps end somewhere at the bottom of the chasm, the junkie in me gets back up again and look for the next most impossible cliff – rinse & repeat.

So this muckerlab thing . . . . is different – making binary decisions instead of sitting in the other side of the table, trying to convince someone else that nothing is impossible. I’m sure I will become calloused, jaded, and be able to say “no” in 50 different way real soon. Right now though, I feel like I’m 18 again, starting to date for the first time (yes, I’m a late bloomer): awkward, brash, insecure, excited, insensitive, unsure, too easily seduced. After about 200 “first dates” with entrepreneurs, the meetings are starting to blend into one another. Typically, they all seem to follow the same 5 or 6 patterns . . . .

“Say Anything . . . ” His/her reputation precedes him/her. I know PG has called him/her twice already. Hell, even the real VC’s are sniffing around. I get there 10 min early – he/she is late and I check my email four times to make sure I’m not at the wrong place. The entrepreneur looks good in jeans. For the length of the meeting, I pretty much nod my head and smile eagerly the whole time. I try to convince the entrepreneur I can introduce him to Larry Page and the Pope – and both will take him on a ski strip on their private jets – most likely together. He/she gets up and leaves and casually mentions that he/she needs to run to a meeting with Sequoia. I stay seated slumped . . . wondering what brand of jeans he/she was wearing.

“I’m Too Sexy . . “ – I’ve found that pair of jeans on Hautelook. I took this meeting because Joe from referred the entrepreneur to me. The idea sounded stupid on paper and even more asinine in person. It’s a mash up of all the hottest topics on Techcrunch except 6 month ago. I try to smile absently – I wish I know if Jeremy Lin lowered his assist to turn over ratio last night. The entrepreneur drones on about being the leader in the collaborative daily deal sourcing space. It was a “no” before I meet him/her – I listen for some nugget of information that will allow me to make up an excuse to say “its me, not you” – no engineer? unrealistic valuation? missing teeth?

“Ghost” – The powerpoint stayed on the first page. We started brainstorming on his/her strategy and product roadmap. We are both up on the whiteboard scribbling away. Unchained Melody plays in the background. I could see the future now. Billions of dollars, ringing the bell at NYSE, cover of ESPN Magazine, 2 kids, a dog and white picket fences. We both ignore our next appointment – 2 hours later still talking. We started with a hand shake and left with a fist pump and a hug.

Will: “Gee, what do you want to do tonight?
EntrepreneurBot: “The same thing we do every night, Will—try to take over the world!”

“The Graduate” – The handshake was firm. Screw jeans, corduroys are the new black. The market is huge he/she tells me – I couldn’t get a word in. The entrepreneur speaks in fast staccato voice occasionally punctuated with hand gestures. He/she moves on to the team, demos the product, and tells me the litany of fortune 500 companies that is ALMOST piloting their product. He/she then tells me about all the people we both know, praises me for being the most insightful person they’ve spoken to, and my deep knowledge of cold fusion. I forgot to ask about the company’s engagement metrics, their pricing model, the stratospheric valuation, the fact their CTO seems to be based in Moldova. Doesn’t matter – if he/she can seduce me, he/she can convince anyone. The Newtonian law of physics doesn’t apply – we are now into quantum physics. I strap on, close my eyes, and wait for the rocketship to count down to zero.

“Dazed & Confused” – I don’t get it. Everyone told me this is the next big thing. I still don’t get it. I don’t know why anyone would buy this – but apparently they are – 20,000 units and counting. I hate the idea, the founder (ugly jeans), the color of the website. But every slide has a graph going up to the right. Every number ends in a B. I still don’t get it. I must be the stupidest guy in . . . . Santa Monica?. . . or worse . . . old, over the hill, a dinosaur whom time has past by. Before the entrepreneur figures out how uncool I am, I tweet out how I think I just found the next Google . . Instagram.

“10 Things I Hate About You” – Erik told me I HAVE to meet them, I was skeptical. The powerpoint was barely decipherable, the emails was in all caps, they had no idea what Instagram was (how unhip), and they never worked at Google or Facebook. Even their domain name pissed me off. BUT . . . the founder was persistent. He/she didn’t know how to use powerpoint because he/she rather be coding (I feel ashamed). The entrepreneur knows more about the technology and problem than anyone else. This is a diamond in the rough – a “makeover project.” Nerds can look good in jeans too. Its like discovering Skype in the caves of Estonia. . . I’m not just going to be super rich – people will actually think I’m smart too. Muahahahah.




MuckerLab Top Ten Predictions for 2012

magic-eight-300x199Was feeling a bit left out by all the smart and daring people putting forth their forecasts for the coming year, so I decided to join the party. While most people are afraid of being wrong; we, at MuckerLab, are not afraid of being right. In no particular order, here are MuckerLab’s fearless predictions for 2012:

1. Mark Zuckerberg decides to bail out Greece, Spain, and Italy to ensure the Facebook IPO goes out smoothly

2. Economy stalls, forcing brogrammers to start applying to MBA schools – creating a whole new specie called “Brogrammers who wear pants”

3. No one will ever confuse an “accelerator” for an “incubator” again, just like no one ever type “www” to the beginning of his or her urls anymore.

4. Gamification finally hits enterprise software: SAP launches gamification module for SAP ERP HCM which allows companies to match employee 401K contributions with badges instead of money.

5. Big Data crushes Small Data. (No Data announces retirement)

6. Consolidation in the Los Angeles accelerator market will create an 800 pound gorilla called AmpedUpEngineMuckPad.La which will create a formidable competitor to YCombinator . . . and bring balance to the Force.

7.  The mythical yet imminent “Series A Crunch” will spawn an evil twin called the “Series B Crunch” – to which, we’ll all just finally admit getting other people to part with their money is just plain hard . . . with or without a “crunch.”

8.  YouTube video marketshare will continue to grow unabated, causing the media industry to call for “online video distribution neutrality.” Google responds by buying Clearwire for pennies on the dollar and stealing DirecTV from the lustful eyes of AT&T.

9.  Twitter breaks $150M in revenue. (and $50B in secondary market valuation)

10. “Silicon Beach” will fall into the ocean and thus ending the Series A hopes of 199 subscription mobile e-commerce social app startups and one optical networking equipment company.