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Daniel Hulme
Daniel Hulme


Founding Satalia

Posted on 3 February 2017

I need to start at the beginning.

When I was in my early 20’s it struck me that one day i’ll be dead.

I know that we die, but the moment I realised I had about 700 months left to live [1] really put things into perspective. As far as I’m concerned a month isn’t very long, even if there might be 700 of them. At the time I was completing my Doctorate in Optimisation at UCL. Since the earliest I can remember I’ve been curious about how the universe works and what it means to be human, which led me to research Complexity Theory and Artificial Intelligence. With an impending eternity of nothingness [2], coupled with a lack of desire to toe the academic career path, I was forced to ask one of the hardest questions I believe that anyone can try to answer; what should I do with my life? And more generally, what is the meaning of life, anyway?

I turned to the great philosophers – the Greeks, the Stoics, the Existentialists – for answers, and I found them. We’re the result of an accidental arrangement of atoms that have configured to be able to sense other atoms. The combination of chemistry and time have spawned what we identify as life, which has evolved to a level of complexity we call sentience; the ability to perceive and feel things.

To feel is merely electrical activity, and whether it matters to the universe or not many life-forms feel joy and suffering. Evolution and the process of natural selection explains why life strives to maximise its happiness and minimise its suffering. In short, the meaning of life is to Maximise Good. I’ll write an article about that at some point, but let’s assume that it’s similar to utilitarianism; which aims to bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people [3].

Some types of life have a local view – maximising happiness only for themselves – whereas others try to maximise more widely (friends, family, local environment). Some want to maximise good for every living thing. But what should I do? What makes me happy and to what extent should I be trying to make others happy?

I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer these questions without exploring the world and experiencing the bounds of human endeavour. And didn’t feel I was going to be able to do that in academia or any other traditional career path. Satalia started out as a conduit for academic algorithms into industry, to help organisations solve their most challenging problems. But Satalia was also as a vehicle for me to understand what motivates people and makes them happy, to learn the dynamics of science, commerce, society and economics, and to gain a glimpse into how the universe works.

“Satalia was a vehicle for me to gain a glimpse into how the universe works.”

The journey was a selfish one, it was to learn as much as possible so I could work out what I really wanted to do with my life. It hasn’t been (and still isn’t) easy. I’ve lived in Silicon Valley and done the whole ‘startup thing’; sleeping on friends sofas, investing my life savings, almost bankrupting myself, breaking up with girlfriends, giving away too much equity, separating from co-founders, winning and losing clients, saturating networks for opportunities, the usual stuff.

The irony is that the journey that I’ve been on – growing a company and working with incredible people to solve some of the world’s hardest problems – is what actually makes me happy. Satalia has become a vehicle for anyone with the same aspiration. It’s for people who want to learn as much as possible, and use their superpowers to solve the hard problems and make the biggest possible positive impact.

“It’s for people who want to learn as much as possible, and use their superpowers to solve the hard problems…

There is a boom in ‘purposeful companies’, some driven by people who want to make a ‘positive impact’ on the world, and some who use it as PR to attract clients and employees. However, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, some of the most fundamental questions that humanity has ever pondered now desperately need to be answered. What does it mean to be alive and conscious? What is the most ethical decision in a situation? What should we do if we didn’t have to work? How do we govern ourselves in an automated world? I’m not convinced that governments are robust enough to answer these questions, nor is the global economy resilient enough to adapt to what will happen over the next few decades.

Satalia is not just another company providing “Something-as-a-Service…to make the world better”. We are attracting the greatest minds of our generation. We empower them to solve global challenges and answer the biggest questions humanity dares to ask. We use our expertise in psychology, development, optimisation, data-science and artificial intelligence to build processes and systems to operate optimally. We provide products, services and solutions that move the needle for start-ups and the world’s biggest organisations.

We strive to Maximise Good.

[1] Working on the assumption that my likely lifespan is about 1000 months or 80 years. Here’s a TEDx talk I did about it.
[2] I’m a humanist, and this is what I believe and value.
[3] Utilitarianism –  The doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority.

 



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