Deeper on clean tech: anthropocentric climate change illustrated beautifully, together with a roadmap for how electrical generation is about to change for good. We explore the exponential firms beating out the old economy.
Beta notes Sending this out earlier than usual - enjoy a long Sunday read.
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Dept of the near future
👷 Is a world without work a good thing? Fantastically balanced Atlantic essay on the AI-driven world that may save us from toil/eviscerate our sense of meaning. Favourite quote: “Today the norm is to think about employment and unemployment as a black-and-white binary, rather than two points at opposite ends of a wide spectrum of working arrangements”
`🌅 What is really warming the world? It’s us. Must view interactive.
😎 Profligacy meet expediency, why the Saudis are going solar. Must read.
🍨 Future AI will create realities out of nothing. Exploring how AIs can generate realities that can fool humans.
💫 The brain is a computer: getting to a gestalt understanding of the human mind may be hard. But accepting it is a computer may help us understand it better. Thought provoking
Dept of clean energy & robocars
☀️ Are we really on the cusp of an energy revolution? Can the combination of solar energy, decentralised production, better storage and a move to electric vehicles tackle our largest sin? We seem to be very close to some epochal shifts which can bring an end to the auto-petrochemical hegemony. I drove an electric BMW i3 for a couple of hours this week (review in a future issue), the experience was sublime.
Stunning article by Bloomberg on how the energy ecosystem is just about to change, despite a gloomy on the climate outlook.
And yes, solar is getting much cheaper, with prices rapidly approaching less than $1 a watt, which is a sort of emotional threshold that determines its sustainability.
Not just green, Tesla’s all electric cars hold their value better than any other car in the US. Another reason why, Uber’s Travis Kalanick has said he’ll buy 500,000 self-driving Teslas. (I’m interested in getting more readers from the EV and clean energy sector - please forward this to people in those sectors, if you know them.)
Ten positive effects of autonomous cars.. So much of the modern world (city lay out, insurance and finance industries, commutes, sexual desire) have been defined by the triumvirate of cars, oil & advertising. Valuable McKinsey thinking.
😎 I love Amy, you can too
I mentioned Amy, the artificial intelligence-based personal assistant, in the last issue. Amy is saving me several hours a week, and I love her/it.
Now x.ai, the guys behind Amy, are inviting 20 readers of Azeem’s Exponential View to get early access. Three steps to privileged access:
- Sign-up for the beta on x.ai
- Send me and @xdotai a tweet with the hashtag
- Within a week, we’ll send out the 20 invites to readers.
Dept of exponential business
New economy firms continue their valuation march. Facebook is worth more than Walmart. Facebook has growth, high operating efficiency and a massive economic moat on its side.
Slack, the business messaging platform, has now hit 1m monthly users. But each of those users is valued astronomically higher than other platforms. Why? Growth rates are a major factor. But long-term stickiness in the enterprise domain must be another.
At $24bn, AirBnb is valued more than any hotel chain, despite owning no rooms and having lower revenues. I say despite, but the point is the absence of rooms makes it more valuable. Rooms are just risky, lumpy inventory that need to be bought, managed & refreshed. What a headache. Surely owning rooms is more like a liability. And AirBNB’s 100+% annual growth rate adds to the spice.
Venture capital is a crazy industry which defies our usual understanding of business. Why? The outcomes are horribly biased. Here is a data-junkies inspection of the skewed distributions of the venture industry.
Dept of quantum leaps
Is quantum computing making progress? The Economist turns its attention to this weird phenomemon, around which I have not got my head.
Separately, Dwave, the largest commercial quantum computing outfit, announces it’s developed a 1000 qubit processor, the largest ever.
Short morsels for dinner parties
🐙 This week, we discover squid can edit their own gene sequences.
⛄️ Google’s creepy, philosophical chatbot. Presented without comment. Wonderful
Harvard Business Review on the rise of programmatic advertising. Or when robots took over marketing.
Move over Steve Austin. Contact lenses which give you 3x normal vision move towards testing.
Stanford scientists develop a cheap and efficient way of extracting hydrogen from water using a single catalyst.
🚗 Ever wondered how an AI masters a video game? This great video shows how to teach a neural net to win at Mario Brothers. Recommended
😮 Just gorgeous. A ‘Rubik’s cube’ coffee table which defies the laws of physics. If the future has furniture like this, bring it on.
More than 1,000 units of Pepper, a domestic robot with an emotion engine, sell out in less than a minute.
Instagram chronicles the growth of emoji. Interesting for cultural historians
What age does our intelligence peak? I’ve got seven more years.
Lower IQ people commit more crimes. But why? And what should we do about it, if these results hold up?
The Age of Generative Machines
The first Exponential Hangout. Game designer, neural net artist & techno-DJ Samim Winiger and I will talk about generative AI and whether machines can be creative this Monday at 9pm UK time. It’s a Google Hangout and will be available on Meerkat as well. [Follow me on Twitter[(http://twitter.com/azeem) to make sure you get an alert.
Once again, thanks for reading. Please do forward this to colleagues who would enjoy it.
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