Thinking about Tesla and the future of urban mobility; the downside of the internet of things; AI robots that pass IQ tests; lusting after your bot; fizzy drinks going flat; the changing scariness of the haka. Extending Moore’s Law.
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Dept of the near future
😱 The price of the internet of things will be the vague dread of a malicious world Excellent, must read
☀️ Exploring the largest collective action ever: dealing with climate change and the organizational capabilities we need to achieve it. Brilliant by @vkr
😮 Why the world is getting weirder by Steve Coast (founder of Open StreetMap). Excellent explanation: technology and learning leaves only bizarre edge cases unaddressed. The weirding will continue. (From March)
🚘 Urban mobility at a tipping point. Excellent report from McKinsey, and wherever you look car ownership is trending down; and sharing and other services are up.
🍹The decline of big soda Consumers changes are pushing sugary drinks sales into a tailspin. Their tobacco moment? Imagine a fizzy-drink free future? Good read
👶 The problem with problems: Silicon Valley’s problem-focus has limits. Many real problems are not visible to the under-30 tech elite.
Dept of pay-it-forward
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Dept of Tesla & future transport
Tesla’s launch announcement for the Model X couldn’t have had better timing in the wake of diesel gate. Elon Musk opined on the future of Tesla cars including 1000km range within 2-3 years and fully autonomous driving in the same period of time.
A 1,000 km on a single charge is quite a tempting proposition. In fact, it would more than cover a month’s worth of driving for the typical Londoner.
But as McKinsey points out above, the pendulum is swinging away from car ownership. And almost every economist agrees that Uber, Lyft and other sharing mobility platforms make us wealthier. There is a simple way of thinking about this: is that market segmentation almost always increases consumer welfare. Why? Because the segmentation (different price/utility bundles) allow people who were pay too much for a given bundle pay less; and those who were priced out of the market afford a service they otherwise couldn’t.
🚗 If car ownership is so passé, despite Madison Avenues best efforts for 50 years, one might ask why a super-smart cookie like Elon Musk is producing new vehicles for people to buy. Gavin Sheridan reckons many of the innovations in the Model X are designed for a future Tesla Mobility platform (an Uber-like taxi service.) Good hypothesis, worth reading.
Traditional automakers, argues The Economist, have business models which are vulnerable due to their reliance on financing (with nearly a trillion bucks of hydrocarbon-driven assets on their books).
As Elon Musk argues around #dieselgate: “we’ve reached the limits of what we can do with gasoline.” Musk gives away some hints of the future of Tesla’s range in this set of fascinating tweets.
This leads to two interesting thoughts.
The first: if Sheridan’s Tesla Mobility hypothesis is correct, then Tesla is building a vertically-integrated mobility platform where it owns the vehicle, operating system, autonomous navigation, storage and charging. All it needs is to add vehicles to cities and a real-time marketplace for travel before it has a ‘full-stack’ competitor to ride-sharing alternatives. Tesla starts to look increasingly like Apple; with Uber looking, by weak analogy, to Android (dependent on third-party manufacturers, third-party drivers, etc).
The second is that the fossil industry / internal combustion business is a classically fragile system (and not an anti-fragile one in the Taleb sense.) Small shocks to the system (decline in car ownership, reduction in hydrocarbon use, new competition, new mobility models) nick at the system. I’ve got a weak notion forming here about how fragile this system is, but I am sure there is much deeper thinking about this out there.
If you know of something, please recommend it to me.
🌟 Elsewhere, a great Buzzfeed review on riding in one of Google’s greenfield self-driving cars and how it might change our notions of driving. Recommended
Sweden to become fossil-fuel free joining other leaders like Costa Rica and New Zealand.
Short morsels for dinner parties
😄 Less is more. Sweden introduces a six-hour work week to increase output.
💻IBM’s new carbon nanotubes may extend Moore’s Law a few more years.
An AI performs does an IQ test as well as a 4-year old. Albeit on a very limited domain.
🚜 Fascinating insight in how farms are using drones and data to improve efficiency, yields and productivity.
AirBnb’s exponential growth continues: 80m room nights booked this year, up from 40m last year.
Wholesale solar continues its exponential price decline, hitting 5c/kWh. (A 70% decline in 6 years, and it looks like it is ahead of forecasts.) Good news, everyone.
🏉 Exponential change: first it is slow, then it is fast and uncomfortable as perfectly exhibited in this history of the haka (h/t @markthebln for identifying ‘exponentially scary’)
👮 Very Minority Report. Hitachi demonstrates a system which can predict crimes before they happen.
🔬 Dropletons join solid, liquid, gas, plasma, Bose-Einstein condensates and others as a new state of matter. Yay. Science.
⛪️ Today’s American teen is the least religious cohort ever. Yay. Science.
💀 Your smartphone is gorgeous. And child labour in toxic mines may be part of the supply chain. Good photo essay
Action video games, like first person shooters, have stronger positive cognitive effects than brain training games.
What you wrote
EV reader, Ken Cukier, of The Economist, reviews three new books on artificial intelligence - including John Markoff’s Machines of Loving Grace and Jerry Kaplan’s Humans Need Not Apply. Recommended.
MISSED CONNECTIONS: One EV reader published a book on holobioncy and man as super-organism. But I can’t remember who. If it was you can you drop me an email?
Thanks again for reading. I tried a different format this week - going slightly deeper into the subject of future mobility. It’s an experiment. Let me know if it works for you by hitting reply; or whether you prefer previous formats of wider and shallower content.
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