SABF Author

Leandro Otouzbirian

Blog Team 2017


Beyond our borders

Technology is the vehicle of how we should see the political landscape today ~ Peter Thiel (Co-Founder of PayPal)

Have you ever thought we live in a chaotic society run by politicians who are proud of their long-term lack of vision? There is a place where people have a vision, with idead to make our society more efficient and virtual at the same time.

A technology-driven society where bureaucracy and current political issues are problems of the past, that’s Silicon Valley. Populated by programmers, entrepreneurs and capital investors, those are the ones shaping this new world.

How is this ideal of society?

We can see an example. There are only 193 countries with more than 7 billion people. We have much more variety of smartphones models than countries with our culture and vision that we want to be part of. If there were hundreds of floating cities, we would choose according to our needs the one that suits us best. With how diverse we are, we should not be forced to choose something that does not culturally represent us. Peter Thiel and Patri Friedman (founder of Seasteading Institute) dream of living in a city where the laws are written by investors. It is not crazy to think this, since Tim Draper, founder of Draper University, proposes to divide the state of California into 6 smaller states, one of them being Silicon Valley. This idea of ​​decentralization is the new idea of ​​what the “new politics of tomorrow” should be. And this can be seen with, for example, Bitcoin, whose underlying structure is called the Blockchain. Basically, and broadly speaking, Blockchain is a network of connected computers where no one has a greater hierarchy over another, and this in addition creates transparency. Returning to the example of floating cities, which is a project of the Seasteading Institute, they will have the following characteristics:

  1. It will be easier for many people to join the country as the island will be in a protected area of ​​the sea of ​​a host country.
  2. There will be a political exchange, autonomous, for economic, social and environmental benefits with the country that covers the island
  3. Cities will be environmentally friendly, and may be reconditioned according to needs
  4. The price of the square meter will be similar for what is paid in cities like New York or London.

And you, will you be like those 1000 people who said they wanted to live on a floating platform?

3 powerful techniques for problem solving

We, the Homo sapiens, solve problems every day. One of our greatest tools (but not the best) is intuition. Our most common method for solving problems is that of trial and error. Based on this context, we learn from our mistakes and when we get to the solution of a problem, we learn how we did it. In this way, we build a “bridge” in our brain, which helps us in the future when we want to solve a similar problem. The issue is that there are many techniques that we can apply to improve our ability to solve problems in everyday life, whether in study, work or any situation; Every day we face a problem, as simple as it may be. The key is to structure our analysis, which serves as a framework for later thinking the problem in greater depth and thinking alternatives. However, a word of caution: intuition is a double-edged sword. Thomas Gilovich couldn’t have said it better: “We believe certain things because they ought to be true.” Sometimes, just because we believe that something must be true because we believe it (sounds obvious), does not allow us to examine other alternatives to the solution of a problem.

Now, I present 3 tools that can serve to improve our ability to solve problems:

1) Divergence and convergence: With the first, we seek to explore and look for new things. It is a process to look for new options and ideas. Convergence is the opposite, we seek a response or conclusion. The idea would be to apply both concepts separately, and in different parts. The ideal would be to diverge and then to converge.

2) Restating the problem: In several different ways, is a divergent technique that opens our minds to alternatives. For example, changing the focus of the problem, rephrasing it in a broader context, or asking the question “how can we get employees to come to the picnic?”, to rephrase it to “how can we make employees not come to the picnic?”.

3) Applying the scientific method: Which was something I learned from my mentor Yimi, in order to solve problems. We present our problem as a hypothesis, and we want to see if applying a given solution, we arrive at the thesis is true.

How the SABF helped me in studying and learning

The amazing thing about the SABF is its great community. Period. Everything is possible thanks to the hard work of many people. SABF also nucleates a large number of intellects, it’s a “magnet” that attracts those who have much to give and receive. It is a very nice experience. This entry also tried to adapt to the themes of previous posts (mentoring and the area of ​​learning and problem solving).

I was a member of the SABF 2016 organizing team. Something great is that one has a mentoring program, among other things, that is, a person dedicated exclusively to talk about everyday things in general. Something I noticed was not taking enough advantage of such program. I only met once with my mentor, and although I asked a lot of questions and learned a lot, not organizing myself during my course of faculty, made it impossible to continue the program. Having learned of the error, luckily, I had a second chance. In August of last year, during the conference, the three most important days of SABF, I met Esteban (Tibi), who was an organizer of SABF 2011. He was in the same department as I was, in Information Technology (IT). I told him that I was having trouble with programming, that I had trouble solving programming problems; Moving from the problem to the paper or to the computer was my biggest problem, not a question of syntax. Tibi told me that he wanted to do a mentoring program, in which he would code with another person and learn from it. And I wanted to participate. Along with Yemel (Yimi), one of the IT department’s inductees, who also wanted to organize this with Tibi, I started meeting once a week in Voltaire and learning more and more. This learning helped me remove the fear I had in solving problems related to programming and to deal with them more easily, as well as to pass the college programming course (where I got an average of 9.25 points out of 10). Voltaire is a coworking space where several people and start-ups work. But it is also a community, where I got help from many and had a good time!

One of Warren Buffett’s commandments is to surround yourself with those people you admire and who you want to be. I think Mentoring is one of the best things, since it is a feedback, in both directions. Also, the role of the university is important, as it seeks to facilitate the problem-solving environment (one of the most important fields for being an engineer) and once again, to strengthen ourselves intellectually and socially through these extraordinary communities (and also approaching them!) 😊

And you, what are you waiting for to join a student organization in your college or university? There are many universities that have in their checklist “to participate in an organization”.