About me

I am a PhD student in Computer Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I work with the Crowd Dynamics Lab and Social Spaces Group.

Prior to joining the PhD program, I received a BS from UIUC and an MS from Stanford University, both in Computer Science. I worked in the technology industry as a data scientist and executive before co-founding a seed stage venture capital firm.

My research and writing

[S]cientific discoveries can be used in at least two opposite ways. The first leads to specialization of functions, institutionalization of values and centralization of power and turns people into the accessories of bureaucracies or machines. The second enlarges the range of each person’s competence, control, and initiative, limited only by other individuals’ claims to an equal range of power and freedom.

-Ivan Illich, Tools For Conviviality

In my research, I use HCI, security, and game theory to look at ways users can come out ahead when they are in conflict with online platforms.

I also think about how business models constrain product design and how product design relates to what happens online. I sometimes write semi-technically about how incentives and social signals steer behaviors online whether the behavior is trolling in online communities, being addicted to Twitter, or trusting in Bitcoin.

In the past, I’ve done research on AI and bioinformatics. I’ve also worked for and invested in a number of startups. I may touch on these topics at a fairly casual level from time to time.

Beyond that, I’m interested in where the modern world came from and where it’s going. I think we’re living on the cusp of extraordinary change. I don’t take for granted that things like nation states, economics predicated on growth, urbanization, the individual, or any other factor of modernity will survive the century. Humanism, liberalism and the social structures that emerge under them might seem natural and eternal, but they are recent phenomena that may have required a very narrow and specific set of socio-technical parameters in order to be viable. None of them are guaranteed to survive networked software.

Most of what I say is just an experiment to see if something can be said in a way I like. I don’t always believe what I write, but I’ll try to be clear about when I’m experimenting.