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The Three Cities Problem in People Analytics

Directionally Correct Newsletter

By | Cole Napper |


Recently, on the Directionally Correct podcast, my co-host Scott and I spoke with Amber West about a Wired article, the Three Cities Problem, in our segment called the “Nerdery”. That discussion inspired me to write this article. Luke Burgis, the progenitor of the thesis behind the “Three Cities Problem”, originally discussed the concept of the “Three Cities” as the intersection of reason, faith, and utility (more on this below) on his Substack in 2021, along with mentions of iconoclasts such as Peter ThielRene Girard, the Greek philosopher Tertullian. In addition, his recent Wired article states the modern world is at a crossroads because of the complexity that arises from the “Three Cities Problem”.

So what is the “Three Cities Problem”?

For the last few thousand years, there has been a tug-of-war waged between the “Two Cities Problem”; the metaphorical battle between Athens and Jerusalem — otherwise known as the debate between science and religion or reason and faith. However, as Mr. Burgis so presciently articulates, there is now a third city in the equation:

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