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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
“ I’m learning now how technology can make people’s lives more efficient and delightful and even fully transform them. “Life 2.0" startups a la Uber (“everyone’s private driver”) and Postmates (one-hour on-demand delivery service!) in San Francisco can seem frivolous, services for the 1% or even 0.1%, but they illustrate how technology, artfully applied, can completely change the character of one’s day-to-day schedule — I can see eventual applications of this service model in more efficient job marketplaces. Beautiful apps like Flipboard and Paper don’t really seem necessary for anything, but they push the envelope in user interface and interaction design — I can see eventual applications in intuitive education software designed for self instruction, distributed on cheap tablet devices to the economically disadvantaged, who may not have access to good, if any, teachers or classrooms. ”— Tracy Chou, “When are you going to start your own company?”
“When we surveyed the people and interviewed the people who love Twitter all over the globe, consistently, they said the same exact thing, more or less: Which is, ‘Twitter shows me what’s happening in the world’;Twitter shows me what’s up’; 'Twitter keeps me on the pulse’; 'Twitter keeps me informed.’”
Among non-users, however, Berland cited three “key barriers”:
AmOn a flight to and from Gibraltar, I caught up with a bunch of podcasts I hadn’t listened to:
Last year in August I visited San Francisco and some parts of California. We used Turo, a peer-to-peer car rental company dubbed ‘Airbnb but for cars’. It allows people to share their unutilised cars when they are not driving them around or simply away for long periods of time. The advantage from a user’s point of view is that if you really want to drive a Porsche or a Tesla for a little while - you can; and you can rent it directly from the owner, paying a price he or she thinks is fair. Where big car rental companies like Avis, Rent-a-car, etc. optimise for always having a vehicle available whenever and wherever you might be in the world, Turo is a bit more personal and also lets people show off their cars and let others drive them. This podcast with Andre Haddad, the CEO, is a fascinating look into their business model and what kind of owners and customers it attracts, plus a bit on their plans to expand into the British market.
This little podcast is a fascinating look into how the US postal service basically made America: from Benjamin Franklin, the man who had the brilliant idea to link the colonies on the East coast, through to using the post as a way to deliver newspaper and news rather than actual post (which was expensive), and all the way to how the post pumped a lot of money into the rail and air travel industry in their early days.
I listened to this just after I’d finished watching ‘The Big Short’, a movie adapted after a book by Michael Lewis. It turns out Michael Lewis is a great storyteller on podcasts too, not just in his books. The podcast tells the story of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman: two psychologists who met, influenced and inspired each other, and created ground-breaking work that saw them win a Nobel Laureate in Economics.
The story is interesting to me on a number of levels: their work (as you’ll hear it explained in the podcast) is groundbreaking. It systematically shatters existing models and preconceived notions about human behaviour, especially those theories that attempt to paint humans as ‘rational actors’ always acting in their own-self interest, always seeking the most desirable outcome. Their research uncovers a number of biases that cloud our judgement and make us anything but rational: they reveal that we do not think, feel and do. Instead we are largely led by feelings towards descriptions of things rather than things in themselves. We feel, we do, and then we “think” or post-rationalise our decisions.
On the other hand, it’s groundbreaking that two psychologists could win a Nobel Laureate in Economics: this is a field that is hesitant to offer prizes to mathematicians (to say nothing of women economists), yet awarded the greatest distinction in economics to two behavioural psychologists. If that’s not enough proof that these men started a thinking revolution, I don’t know what is.
“The North American ARPU has exploded in the five years since Facebook had its IPO. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Facebook’s average revenue per user in the US and Canada was just $4.08. Facebook generated $62.23 per US and Canadian user in 2016, compared to just $13.58 in all of 2012. In other words, Facebook has figured out how to ring up an additional $50 per year from every North American user since its IPO. Not bad.
Facebook now has 231 million monthly users in the US and Canada, the regions that advertisers are most interested in reaching thanks to the relatively affluent nature of those people.”
“ It has become clear, after all, that most new consumers don’t want to know if what they are reading is real or fake;, they just want to know that it helps support their worldview. As Pew Research has noted, in today’s media-saturated society, “liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds.” ”— Fake news is about to get scarier than you ever dreamed
“— Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
Is there more diversity _within_ races or _between_ races? Does knowing that someone is of African versus European descent, say, allow us to refine our understanding of their genetic traits, or their personal, physical, or intellectual attributes in a meaningful manner? Or is there so much variation within Africans and Europeans that _intraracial_ diversity dominates the comparison, thereby making the category “African” or “European” moot?
We now know precise and quantitative answers to these questions. A number of studies have tried to quantify the level of genetic diversity of the human genome. The most recent estimates suggest that the vast proportion of genetic diversity (85 to 90 percent) occurs _within_ so-called races (i.e., within Asians or Africans) and only a minor proportion (7 percent) within racial groups (the geneticist Richard Lewontin had estimated a similar distribution as early as 1972). Some genes certainly vary sharply between racial or ethnic groups – sickle-cell anemia is an Afro-Caribbean and Indian disease, and Tay-Sachs disease has a much higher frequency in Ashkenazi Jews – but for the most part, the genetic diversity within any racial group dominates the diversity between racial groups – not marginally, but by an enormous amount. The degree of interracial variability makes “race” a poor surrogate for nearly any feature: in a genetic sense, an African man from Nigeria is so “different” from another man from Namibia that it makes little sense to lump them into the same category.”
“ If the history of the last century taught us the dangers of empowering governments to determine genetic “fitness” (i.e., which person fits within the triangle, and who lives outside it), then the question that confronts our current era is what happens when this power devolves to the individual. It is a question that requires us to balance the desires of the individual— to carve out a life of happiness and achievement, without undue suffering— with the desires of a society that, in the short term, may be interested only in driving down the burden of disease and the expense of disability. And operating silently in the background is a third set of actors: our genes themselves, which reproduce and create new variants oblivious of our desires and compulsions— but, either directly or indirectly, acutely or obliquely, influence our desires and compulsions. Speaking at the Sorbonne in 1975, the cultural historian Michel Foucault once proposed that “a technology of abnormal individuals appears precisely when a regular network of knowledge and power has been established.” Foucault was thinking about a “regular network” of humans. But it could just as easily be a network of genes. ”— Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History
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