Current status

I'm working primarily on launching Make Your Laws, and therefore not available for full time work.

However, I am available for part time consulting.

Breadth and depth

My background, skills, and interests are about as diverse as it gets, yet still in depth — and I love problems where I get to apply as much of it as possible and make a positive change to the world.

My programming has been almost entirely self-taught (except for some classes at UC Berkeley, such as one in artificial intelligence that I enjoyed). I've done a variety of work at all levels, such as:

  • full-stack Rails development, including everything — designing a new product, modeling the the problem in code, front end Javascript, setting up multi-master/multi-slave SQL replication, full-stack optimization (caching, SQL calls, byte-shaving space optimizations, runtime issues, etc), test writing, fixing security vulnerabilities and race conditions, bringing a thrashing server back to life, refactoring spaghetti … you name it, I've done it
  • designing and implementing Tuftian data visualization, to highlight real signal by extracting out the noise of known factors or non-statistically-significant variance and compressing as much data as possible into a form that can still be understood at a glance
  • demonstrating that the CSS History Hack could be exploited at several million URLs per minute (not the couple thousand people thought), and the results thereof could be analyzed by an SVM classifier to reliably get a behavioral fingerprint of an individual user that would work even if they visit from a totally separate computer
  • design and implementation of back-end architecture, e.g. for handling lots of email, fast push messaging, secure communication protocols, etc
  • conceptual design of new social games, iteration with artists, integration of social and cross-game hooks, etc
  • finding and fixing flaws, or adding new features, for various open source software (including security)
  • writing an Asterisk VOIP server for a Mystery Hunt puzzle (including co-authoring a patch to Asterisk to allow it to recognize coin tones for a phreaking challenge)

One note: while I haven't e.g. ever had a reason to work with Java, or various other languages / frameworks, I certainly wouldn't mind doing so if needed. (Well, maybe not PHP; I've used it and it makes me cringe.)

That's especially true if it would let me play with something new; for instance, I've been meaning to learn Android or various newer AI techniques (like random forests) at some point and just never had the cause to; I'm currently having fun learning D3 / Cubism; etc.

I'm not just a coder

My academic work was in the social neuroscience of empathy; my thesis provided preliminary evidence for a double dissociation between self-reported measures of empathy & motor imagery skills, on the one hand, and objective measures of facial recognition accuracy and motor imitation skill, on the other. This went to support the motor neuron theory of empathy, because it shows that the perception of your own empathy and the accuracy of it are almost completely separate things (one having to do with your confidence and imagination, the other with your mirror neurons and ability to imitate.

I have started two nonprofits — the world's first conference and organization for language creators (now successfully transitioned to a new President), and a PAC/C4/C3 triad organization for spreading liquid democracy. I negotiated the former's contract with HBO to create the Dothraki language for Game of Thrones, and have been discussing regulatory issues of first impression with FEC lawyers for the latter (as well as drafting a formal FEC Advisory Opinion Request).

I can converse in English, Russian, American Sign Language, French, and Spanish, have fairly rusty Japanese, and studied Mandarin & Arabic (but have since forgotten most of both). I make very unusual (human, not computer) languages for fun (e.g. a non-linear writing system).

I have presented at hacker conferences on a wide array of subjects — including e.g. liquid democracy, cognitive psychology, free space file systems, meditation, anti-telemarketer law, etc.

I also do a lot of things for fun that strike my fancy — anything from making a kilt or chainmail jewelry, to a Bitcoin market analysis and manipulation engine, to becoming a fully trained professional massage therapist, to YouTube videos about how cognitive biases cause people to misunderstand risk, to making a real-time spanning-tree visualization of public transit, to making and solving puzzles for events like the MIT Mystery Hunt.

And yes, "Sai" is actually my full legal name. I only have one. :-)

Stuff I care about other than salary

Yeah, the usual salary / stock / benefits stuff is important and I want to be getting fairly compensated for my work — but I'm not a mercenary.

There are a couple things that I should stress are more important to me than compensation:

  1. How interesting is the work?

    I have a strong need to be learning, working on hard problems, making new things, etc.

    I don't expect everything to be unicorns and roses every day — part of the deal is always that there's tests to write, code to debug, random yaks to shave, etc. That's totally fine. But I don't do well if I'm stagnating intellectually.

    I am interested in team lead, architecture, technical lead, and product design type roles, but not so much in people management proper.

  2. How much good does the company/product do for the world?

    By way of example, just to be upfront: I left Zynga because of ethical problems with both their product and their culture. I strongly care that what I do with my time is not just going to make money, but going to actually improve the world in a perceptible way.

    Working on open source projects is a bonus for this.

  3. Will I have the freedom to do other things too?

    I'm not really fulfilled working on any single project. I give 100% when I'm on the job, but even with a fairly interesting and diverse job, I still have other things going on in my life. This is primarily a question of having a reasonable IP contract — mainly, that what I do outside of work, on my own time and resources, stays mine.

    To be clear, I don't compete with my employer; the whole point after all is to sate interests that are different from those I get to sate at my employer. Make Your Laws for instance is something that is very unlikely to compete with you, but for which I can't allow you to have any IP encumbrance.