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Calvin McCarter answers last week's open thread question about unusually capital-efficient companies:

Comma AI is an incredible example of capital discipline. With ~15 engineers and $8.1 million raised capital, it's managed to win first-place in Consumer Reports' rankings of autonomous driving systems. This is partly due to their superior end-to-end learned architecture, yet also due to their superior business model. And these two things are deeply interconnected. The traditional autonomous vehicle is a Rube Goldberg machine of interconnected hardware, software, and ML subsystems; it requires tons of engineers and scientists ($$$) to develop, and cannot generate revenue until everything finally works. By restricting himself to not raising vast amounts of money, George Hotz forced himself to focus on figuring out the "sine qua non" of autonomy: an intelligent agent that (like the human brain) doesn't require perfect maps and perfect vision to drive safely.

George Hotz laid it all out in two blog posts:



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  1. It's an interesting look at class and power. There are wealthy and powerful people, and they can no doubt hire extremely deferential assistants, domestic help, etc. But there is apparently no amount of money or power that lets someone get away with making such demands of anyone they want to.