🔮 Investing in crypto; the upside of Meltdown; rocky road; Zuck’s mea culpa; bacteria, matter & fake celebrities++  #147

🔮 Investing in crypto; the upside of Meltdown;  rocky road; Zuck’s mea culpa; bacteria, matter & fake celebrities++  #147

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📅  Rodney Brooks: Dated predictions for everything from autonomous vehicles to personal robots. (And, a thought-provoking accompaniment is Katja Grace’s essay ‘Why everything might have taken so long.’)

🇸🇪  Future of work: Sweden is well-placed to deal with the growing automation of job roles. A strong safety net, high trust between employers and employees, good education all turn out to support innovation.

🤑  An investor's take on cryptocurrencies. John Pfeffer, a former partner at buyout firm, KKR, on the bitcoin investment opportunity:

[Bitcoin] could be worth 20-60x its current value...the correct answer is probably a long-term, buy-and-hold … investment of a low single-digit percentage of assets.

(Full essay here is worth reading.)

🏳️  Late to the party, Mark Zuckerberg admits that

[Many] people have lost faith in [the] promise of Facebook” & that Facebook has a lot of work to do.

John Battelle reckons Facebook cannot be fixed: “It’s the advertising model, stupid.” (For a great anecdote of this: see Lauren Halden’s plea to have a bra-free Instagram experience & Kaitlyn Tiffany on why we want smaller social networks.)

💥  Albert Wenger: Why Meltdown and Spectre will be good for innovation. I agree that this creates a further impetus to renew the computing stack, which was changing anyway as a result of a transition to a machine intelligence fabric. (Apple has confirmed that all its devices are impacted.)

💣  Climate change: Get used to saying "bomb cyclone" now. It is the new normal. (See also: Ramez Naam’s robust defence of solar energy’s future; LED lighting has reduced carbon output by 0.5 Gt annually)


Taylor Pearson: The blockchain man. THOUGHT-PROVOKING long-ish read.

Fabrice Grinda, one of the world’s most storied marketplace entrepreneurs, weighs in on cryptocurrencies:

There are cases where a marketplace can benefit from decentralization, an immutable public ledger, the use of tokens to incentivize early use to create liquidity, and where there are no strong incumbents.

EV reader, Kyle Samani: “Why blockchains represent a new social order”.

Bitcoin could add 0.3% to Japan’s GDP.

When will the Yale endowment buy into bitcoin?


Waymo may struggle to monetize autonomous taxis soon. Data shows that the autonomous control systems are still having unexpected failures too frequently to be unleashed en masse. GOOD ANALYSIS

What might road transport will look like in the future? (Nice short Twitter thread.)

Thirty years of patent filing in automotive industry shows where the industry is headed. Patents relating to data processing are the fastest growing class, outnumbering patents relating to the internal combustion engine almost five to one.

Easing into self-driving is key to gaining the sceptic public’s trust.

The amazing expansion of Didi Chuxing.

oBike users could earn oCoins riding a bike next year.


Using generative adversarial networks to create hyper-realistic fake celebrities.

🔬 Wonderful essay on how microbes gave us life (and sustain us every day). Also, tweaking the microbiome to tackle diseases.

Physicists aim to classify all possible phases of matter using topology.

🤳 Understanding the growth of the Chinese app that wants to “make the world a more beautiful place”. See also: using WeChat as an ID card.

👾  India’s Aadhaar database, which holds biometric data for more than a billion people, was breached.

Older Indians are addicted to WhatsApp.

China dominates cellular Internet of things connections.

🇰🇪  The results of a long-term basic income experiment in Kenya are very positive.

On-demand music streaming now dominates music listening in the US.

Grocery list sketched by Michelangelo.

American teens are continuing to sharpen up. Rates of pregnancy, dope smoking and drinking continue to decline.

🛢️  At its 100th birthday party in 1959, American oil was warned of climate change.


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I’ve not said much about AI this week, although the highlight for me was the spat kicked off by Gary Marcus about the limits of deep learning. I haven’t read Gary’s full paper, but Carlos Perez does a decent summary of those arguments and compiles a list of responses to it.

And yes, I’ve said quite a bit about blockchain and crypto. My sense is that blockchain and crypto will become a much more significant this year, whether or not the speculative bubble pops.  (I wrote about this in my 2018 predictions which you can read here, if you haven’t read them already.)

For the next few weeks, I’m exploring slightly shorter EVs based on feedback that previous episodes were a bit too long. For long time readers, this may be more familiar to the Exponential View of 2016. I’ll check in with you all in a few weeks to see how the format is working out.

Have a great week!

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