It happened more than once:

How can you give away your ideas for free?!

What if that was your last one?

A fair question. But it relies on a certain framing, I want to dissect.

This is how I generated more and better machine learning ideas by giving them away.

The Scarcity of Zero-Sum

Zero-Sum means that if someone gains, someone else has to lose.

Some things are zero-sum, no doubt. If you give someone your shiny rock, you have a shiny rock fewer. There may be emotional benefits, but materially you have lost that rock. This often leads to people developing a scarcity mindset beyond the material.

"If I share an idea, I have lost that idea and someone else has won without giving me compensation."

Ideas are Cheap but they Multiply

I don't think ideas are zero-sum (mostly).

When I have shared ideas with other people, usually, it was a great indicator how well that idea would be received. I talked about the idea behind the most important paper in my PhD for 3 years. I received feedback and it led to others sharing and wanting to collaborate.

In the end, you still have to execute on the idea, ideas are cheap and those who execute and deliver are truly rare. Even just writing about an idea is more than most will ever do.

Ideas multiply in the wild, where they can mesh with other ideas.

Find your People

Go where amazing people mingle.

I went to hackathons, specific conferences, workshops, and meetups. I went where the nerds are. Those that love to talk about a thing for days. You'll quickly find who loves to riff on an idea. There can be succubi, but when you avoid those your ideas become limitless.

Go and share your ideas and see what will come back!

Image of Atomic Essay Day 6 - My Machine Learning Ideas Multiply When Shared

This atomic essay was part of the October 2021 #Ship30for30 cohort. A 30-day daily writing challenge by Dickie Bush and Nicolas Cole. Want to join the challenge?