Imagined Conversations: Judges review Sir Isaac Newton's pitch of "The Calculus" at Techcrunch Disrupt

Isaac: ...and that's why I'm optimistic this technique will have nontrivial consequences for how we understand the nature of change.  Thanks for the opportunity to share it with you.

Judge #1: This limit notation is quite nice -- rather elegant really.

Judge #2: Yes it seems like a solid improvement over Descartes' use of tangents.

Judge #3: All that intellectual stuff is cool.  But who's the user?  I know he tried to sell the whole bit about 'mathematics as a universal tool that transcends human particularity' but seriously isn't this just another case of if it's designed for everyone it ends up being used by no one?

Judge #2: There's no doubt that his "Calculus" involves some advanced stuff but how does Isaac expect people to start actually using the tool.  It really goes back to your point about the user journey.  I'm not sure people are going to be busting through doors to learn abstract mathematics.  The absence of any sort of growth hacking is a bit disconcerting.

Judge #3: Precisely.  And that's before we get to this business with Leibniz. The IP problems present challenge enough but even that isn't the biggest issue in my mind.  Is this technique truly revolutionary if two people develop it independently at the same time?  Maybe this is better thought of as a modest evolutionary improvement?

Judge #1: I hear what you're saying.  A lot of this seems reminiscent of how the Greeks did infintesimals.  And you guys remember what happened with Xeno don't you?

Judge #2: Yes his "Achlls" play only ever seemed to suck up more and more money as it made less and less progress toward the much hyped "tortoise" theory.

Judge #3: Exactly.  That's the problem with these "brilliant ideas" that don't even bother to achieve product-market fit.  I might be wrong.  Maybe five years from now everyone will think this is cooler than 2042 but it's just so hard to predict when he has ZERO mobile strategy.

Judge #2:  Then there's Isaac himself.  He just seems SO certain about the idea.  I mean what if this technique really needs to be refined in application to optimizing social ad targeting.  I'm really skeptical he's ready to make that pivot.

Judge #1: I still think there might be something here in terms of theoretical advancement but you guys are right to bring up the huge variety of practical challenges to implementation.

Judge #3:  That's fair.  It's a good idea I guess.  I'm just not sure how well he can execute.  We'll tell Isaac we appreciate his insights but we just can't move conceptual approaches to the next round.

Judges #1&2: Agreed.

"But is it disrupting the disrupters?"

"But is it disrupting the disrupters?"