🔮 Platform economics and the sharing economy; bitcoin's failure; Microsoft's deep learning drive; Lithium rising; new brain transmissions++ #45
How to design equality into networked systems; bitcoin’s failure; Uber’s real driver control vs Zappos out-of-control; Microsoft’s deep learning advances; the rise of platform co-operatives; Lithium, the new oil; education in a time of machine intelligence.
Dept of the near future
🌟 On network inequality: network apps and platforms don’t need to exacerbate inequality, argues Anil Dash. MUST READ
😇 Countries with less income inequality are happier. EXCELLENT research in Harvard Business Review.
😧 “Bitcoin has failed.” Mike Hearn, one of the core developers of Bitcoin has lost faith in the project and stepped away. His 12-minute long essay is worth reading, especially as an outsider to the process. It is EYE-OPENING.
👥 “Every day, Silicon Valley engineers are insulated from the everyday experience of everyone else.” Innovation needs more diversity and more adversity. THOUGHTFUL insights by veteran SV watcher, Tom Foremski.
💡 Microsoft recently wiped the floor at ImageNet (the machine learning / computer vision equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent / the Oscars). Deep & accessible feature on the team that won. GREAT READ
Dept of future of work & sharing economy
More than 20% of Americans have tried working in the ‘sharing economy’ according to this research reported by Quartz. Broadly speaking they enjoy it. (Methodological issues - the surveys suggest 11% of all Americans have offered car rides for money. Hard to believe that.)
🔥 This very interesting paper explores the de facto managerial structures in Uber, and how power and control are expressed between the company and the drivers. **EXCELLENT READ: **“In Uber’s system, algorithms, CSRs, passengers, semiautomated performance evaluations, and the rating system all act as a combined substitute for direct managerial control over drivers, but distributed responsibility for remote worker management also exacerbates power asymmetries between Uber and its drivers.”
💰👨👩👧👦 Can the smartphones and platform technologies revive the work co-operative? And can these platform co-operatives deliver consistent, high-quality services in an economically sustainable fashion?Very interesting manifesto for 'platform co-operatives’. (My view: great opportunities to explore new forms of economic organisation and worthy of further investigation.) h/t @tomski
Zappo’s experiment with abandoning managerial hierarchies is running into difficulty. More than 30% of employees left since holocracy, a new way of running an organization that eliminates bosses, was introduced last year: “self-governing produced a bit of a mess, with some workers telling reporters that they weren’t sure how to get things done anymore.” (Governance hiccups in self-governing organisations show up in the bitcoin crisis.)
Fertility rates are below replacement levels in most countries. Where well the workers come from? Nice graphic.
🎓 Education in a time of machine intelligence: “formal education continues to focus on inculcating basic skills, advanced computational technologies now demand entrepreneurs who are skilled in the creative application of new knowledge.” (Bit parochial and US-focused, but some VERY GOOD insights.)
Dept of blockchain & bitcoin
Bitcoin is having a constitutional crisis, as Mike Hearn’s resignation suggests.. Given how important bitcoin (and the broader blockchain may be) this is worth getting your head around. But also it’s instructive in how self-governing structures can run into governance problems. We can expect to see more self-governing structures, like co-operatives and open-source movements, being established in the future.
💸 Fred Wilson, whose fund has actively invested in many bitcoin businesses: “we have our eyes wide open about the fragility of Bitcoin. But we also have our eyes wide open about the potential and the importance of this technology.”
Dept of batteries, storage & renewables
Lithium is getting more and more important - replacing oil as the major storage substrate for energy. 🔋Good introduction to the lithium industry in this week’s Economist.
Last year’s BBC documentary on Lithium is well worth a listen.
Lithium-air batteries promise a much higher energy density than mainstream Li-ion batteries. Argonne National Labs makes a breakthrough in LiAir batteries using one of EV’s favourite materials, graphene.
🍃 Solar and wind just did the unthinkable: $329bn in renewable projects last year; more than half of that in emerging markets. Hooray.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
⟫ Mesmerising visualisations for sorting algorithms. (Excellent for non-technical people.)
Enhancing images using deep generative adversarial networks. (CSI enhance)
🇮🇸 0% of Icelanders under 25 believe that god created the universe. (Compared to 28% of Americans in the 18-29 age group according to a 2012 Gallup poll.)
💀 Boom. How much more is there to discover about the brain? Researchers identify that the brain uses electric fields to transfer information. (Separate to synaptic connections and other documented information transmission mechanisms.)
Venture capital is terrible at ecommerce. Slightly hysterical but amusing look at rapidly failing e-commerce ‘unicorns.’
Could be aliens. That weird star isn’t pulsing because of comets.
A brick in a washing machine in a trampoline. Because why not.
What you are up to
Congrats to EV subscriber Anne Boden for announcing the $70m investment in her new bank, Starling.
Rabin Yaghoubi, long-time EV supporter, sees $25m investment into Babylon, the telemedicine service where he is commercial lead.
John Havens’ new book “Heartificial Intelligence” is now available for pre-order at Amazon.
Last week’s issue was the highest performing EV ever. So thanks for finding the material so interesting. Please continue suggesting URLs and themes to explore. And always, hit reply if you want to chat. Just give me a few days to reply.