🔮 Herd immunity; welfare; quantum Canada; city stuckers; Mensa, fat, glass++ #261

🔮 Herd immunity; welfare; quantum Canada; city stuckers; Mensa, fat, glass++ #261


I started this newsletter five years ago next Sunday. It was just a way to help me compile my thoughts as I explored what was happening at the intersection of technology and the rest of the world. It has grown from twenty-two friends to more than 50,000 readers around the globe.

Today marks another milestone, an important, but difficult decision. I want the newsletter to be fully sustainable and independent. It has gathered influence and convening power, which needs to be supported by a sensible business model. As of today, we’re switching to a subscription model.

This will allow me to focus more on the newsletter and our community. And to leverage the insights I have from dozens of conversations every month with leaders, innovators, policy-makers and academics around the world.

If you join the EV community today, you’ll receive the special members-only essays as well as this weekly newsletter, and the opportunity to participate in many other members-only community features.

Until Tuesday 17th March you can do this for $85 per year (a 15% discount).

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The near future

💯 We have to design new social systems for the exponential age—a mission social entrepreneur and activist Hilary Cottam boldly pushes forward. We discuss the role new industrialists play in this, how transformation happens on the ground,  and who is the new human, Sapiens Integra, that emerges in this process. Listen here or wherever you get podcasts.

🇬🇧🦠 Boris Johnson and two senior science advisors gave an impressive presentation on Britain’s approach to tackling coronavirus. It was controversial. Rather than a sharp whack to stop the spread of the disease, the idea is to let it roll through the population. Anthony Costello, the former director of WHO, raises a series of important challenges.  Can we flatten the curve enough or it is a deadly delusion? (A special essay on coronavirus will appear a few hours after this letter for EV members.)

🇹🇼👏 As an example of an alternative approach, we need to look at Taiwan. Months before most of the world woke up to the threat from coronavirus, Taiwan was already putting protective measures in place. That proactive approach to disease control has helped Taiwan reduce its caseload to just 45 patients as of March 10th. What can the rest of the world learn from Taiwan?

🇨🇳 Yet another approach is China. Here is a clear (and must-watch) explanation of what China has really done. (Six-minute video).

🚕 Economist, Edward Glaeser, says that cities don’t deliver upward mobility, despite being the most economically productive places on earth. “Urban discontent today does not reflect a failure of the economic city, but rather the shortcomings of the political city.” (Full paper is paywalled, sorry.) Investor, James Wise, recently made the case for investing in regional hubs, not just superstar cities. The recent British Government budget emphasised “levelling up the regions” with investments in research, education and innovation outside of the capital.

🌀 Quantum computing is often talked about as if it were a two-horse race between the US and China, but Canada could prove to be an unexpected contender. The Canadian government has invested over one billion dollars in quantum computing over the last decade, and it’s paying off in the form of cutting-edge, homegrown startups such as Xanadu, which uses particles of light to perform computations at room temperature. (In partnership with Canada’s Waterloo University and Volkswagen, a car company, Google has launched TensorFlow Quantum, a machine learning library to allow developers to test quantum circuits on classical quantum-circuit simulators.)

💭 Facebook billionaire and controversial investor, Chamath Palihapitiya released his firm’s second annual letter where he reckons big tech’s gilded age is coming to an end.

The first signal that the modern Gilded Age is ending will be symbolized by reigning in Big Tech (MSFT, AAPL, AMZN, GOOG, FB) and the only way to do this effectively is with trust busting. Across the world, governments are realizing a growing responsibility to act by stepping in and attempting to break up these behemoths, forcing divestitures, demanding transparency, and in the specific case of ad-based businesses, modifying auctions to limit artificial bidding wars and disabling broad scale data gathering and surveillance of people. While some may argue that this is, in some ways, anti-capitalist, this is the most realistic way of making capitalism work for everyone versus the few.

🌡️ Climate emergency: 414.49ppm | 3,728 days

Each week, we’re going to remind you of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the number of days until reaching the 450ppm threshold.

The latest measurement (as of March 11): 414.49ppm; March, 2019: 410.91ppm; 25 years ago: 360ppm; 250 years ago, est: 250ppm. Share this reminder with your community by forwarding this email or tweeting this.

This is the best news: “New investments in renewables are cheaper than new investments coal in all major markets today. Over half of coal plants operating today cost more to run than building new renewables.” Coal investors are wasting about $600 billion on projects that have little hope of payback. When their backers wise up, those projects are toast.

Also, New South Wales leads in Australia with a plan to reach net-zero by 2050.  

💭🏗️ If the steelmaking industry was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of CO2. However, change is on the horizon. MIT’s Donald Sadoway explored in a recent members briefing how his company Boston Metal produces zero-carbon steel, and how this technology can be scaled.

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Chart of the week

Democrats are more concerned than Republicans about the coronavirus. A new poll shows Democrats are more worried for their health, more likely to have changed their behaviour and more supportive of government measures to limit the spread of the virus. It is worth considering what other factors that may correlate with. For example, Democrats are more likely to live in cities, where fears of contagion may be higher than in rural areas.

Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties

🛰️ Satellite images show the decline in air pollution in Italy as the country went into lockdown. Also, the world got its largest face mask manufacturing plant which can produce five million masks per day.

Should you eat a high-saturated fat diet? 🤔

Downloads for Chinese apps like DingTalk and Tencent conference have skyrocketed. Now China’s AI giant ByteDance plans to launch Google-like office tools to support people working from home.

😬 When a comedian infiltrated high-IQ society American Mensa, she discovered an alt-right forum.

🏷️ I like this! The UK and Singapore are launching security labelling requirements on internet-connected devices.

Quantum computing researchers accidentally solved a 58-year-old mystery.

Low-cost genome sequencing could have truly revolutionary implications for personal health, for both better and worse.

🍃 “Fibrous realism” is apparently the holy grail for the fake meat industry. Realistically fibrous or not, the market for non-animal “meat” products is growing from strength to strength.

Why does glass exist at all?

End note

Enjoy this issue of EV. Next week, we’ll be moving to the new phase of the newsletter. And I hope you’ll join me. The red-button below opens the portal :)

Stay safe, keep your distance, and wash your hands.


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What you are up to—notes from EV readers

Ralph Talmont and his team are hosting a virtual global summit on COVID-19.

Pascal Finette at Singularity University is convening a summit to discuss the state and the future of pandemics.

Mark Shaefer writes how he’s dealing with the outbreak.

Paul Dowling invites EV readers to join a virtual hakathon dedicated to accelerating solutions to COVID-19 crisis.

Kathy Trimble, Vice President at the Council on Competitiveness, was recently highlighted as part of a #WomenInAI campaign.

Share your updates and projects, email marija@exponentialview.co

Dig deeper

Coronavirus—how are you handling it? Members-only discussion

After the virus—resilience-by-design

Reinventing food—the cow is facing an existential crisis


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