🔮 Apple’s auto ambition; robots, humans, work & cheese; inconspicuous consumption; fake news; media futures; plastics, Goldman, Ibn Khaldun++ #118
How to win as a vertical AI startup. Artisanal cheese and the future of work. Can cyclists and driverless cars co-exist? Sugar + CO2 = Plastics.
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DEPT OF THE NEAR FUTURE
🕴️ Vertical AI startups which solve industry-specific problems by combining AI with deep know-how are attractive, argues Bradford Cross.
💳 Inconspicuous consumption is the invisible divide between classes, argues Elizabeth Currid-Halkett. Two takes on her work here: clear overview in Quartz & the FT on the relationship with Trump-bashing.
🧀 The future of work and artisanal cheese. I take a playful look at the future of work in a world of perfect robots. Connects to Currid-Halkett’s ideas above. See also the FT’s fun “Can a robot do your job?”. Interactive
🥒 Why is Amazon acquiring Whole Foods? To extend its food business, acquire a physical footprint in tony locations and attract a bigger share of the affluent wallet.
🎊 The secret origin story of the iPhone. THRILLING
DEPT OF FUTURE OF MEDIA & FAKE MEDIA
“Our problem isn’t ‘fake news.’ Our problems are trust and manipulation” argues Jeff Jarvis in this must-read essay. He explores the handbook of Russian infowar and manipulation and urges us to “starve the manipulators of money but more importantly of attention, exposing their methods without giving unwarranted attention to their messages.”
Instagram bots that legitimise small businesses and boost egos.
🤔 Patreon is on track to funnel $150m to 50k individual creators during 2017. (Works out at $30k per creator. I assume this will be a power law distribution, so while the arithmetic mean lives at “don’t give up the day job level”, the reality is more likely to be a handful doing very well and a large, long-tail able to support a hobby. If you work at Patreon and want to share more, let me know.)
British media consumption by the numbers. (Recommended tweetstorm.)
DEPT OF FUTURE OF TRANSPORT
Can cyclists and driverless cars safely co-exist? We’ve written previously about the challenges of helping driverless cars deal with cyclists. This essay goes into more depth but I was bemused by this comment from Carlos Ghosn, Renault’s former CEO, who described cyclists as “one of the biggest problems for driverless cars”. One might wonder how we’d look at the problem if we phrased it as “one of the biggest weaknesses of driverless cars today is their inability to deal with cyclists well.”
Apple finally confirms it is working on an autonomous car project but won’t say whether it will actually build a car. (One Morgan Stanley analyst is particularly bullish on Apple's chances.)
🚐 Waymo is ditching its Firefly bubble prototype for a minivan.
Jaguar puts $25m into Lyft in a push towards autonomous driving.
Tesla passes BMW in market cap.
As Uber goes through its management meltdown, the firm is exploring perfect “price discrimination” (i.e. charging you what you will be willing to pay), which risks being another toxic PR cocktail.
DEPT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND RENEWABLES
Clean energy is about to become cheaper than coal.
Renewable energy will need massive storage systems (for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow). Examples include lakes, molten salt and trains laden with rubble.
SHORT MORSELS TO APPEAR SMART AT DINNER PARTIES
Islamic scholar, Ibn Khaldun, had ideas about economics centuries ahead of his time.
⌨️ Developers who use spaces earn 37% more than those who use tabs.
🍬 Scientists make plastics from sugar and CO2 (no oil derivatives needed).
#️ Over 1 in 10 UK jobs are in tech.
Goldman Sachs has AI doing jobs previously done by $326k associates. (See also: Facebook's AI created its own language and this nice write-up of deep nets learning to reason a bit like symbolic systems.)
🚢 Ship graveyard underneath San Francisco.
NASA discovers a solar system "remarkably similar" to ours. 🌌
⭕ The way you draw circles could give clues about your geographic and cultural upbringing.
WHAT YOU ARE UP TO
My friends at Blueyard Capital are hiring an analyst. If you like the idea of investing in next generation web protocols, lighting up dark data with neural networks or bringing together folks on quantum computing, I think you'll enjoy this role.
I'm intrigued about private space endeavours (in particular private constellations for data tx or for ESO); if you're involved in this area I'd love to hear from you.
And it's Father's Day in the UK so, for any Dads out there, have a great day!
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