Weekend Briefing No. 155
Welcome to the weekend. I’m happily back in Brooklyn after my time in Cambridge and quick trip to the West Coast for a very special wedding.
I want to ask for your help with something that’s important to me and the entire social enterprise sector. The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, one of the world’s leading academic centers for social entrepreneurship, would like your input. The CASE team is developing a Global Social Impact CEO Survey to generate a better understanding of challenges and opportunities for impact leaders at the CEO level. The goal is to provide a leadership lens focused on sustainable impact at scale and the development of actionable learnings for practitioners. The survey is short and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey.
This Week By The Numbers
374,000 – Solar power in the US employed more people than oil, coal, and gas combined in 2016. Solar energy made up 43% of the electric workforce, employing 374,000 people, while traditional fossil fuels made up just 22%, employing 187,117, according to a report by the US Department of Energy.
20,000 –The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed past 20,000 for the first time this week. And this is why the Dow doesn’t matter.
40% – According to the data Tesla gave investigators, installing Autopilot prevents crashes—by an astonishing 40%.
CZI’s First Acquisition
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $45 billion philanthropy organization is making its first acquisition in order to make it easier for scientists to search, read, and tie together more than 26 million science research papers. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is acquiring Meta, an AI-powered research search engine startup. Once enhancements to the product are made, they will make its tool free to all. When originally announced, the flexible LLC status of the CZI was criticized because it diverged from the traditional structure of a charity. But the ability to acquire for-profit companies like Meta or reinvest any profits toward more impact is exactly why I supported this legal structure. Learn more at TechCrunch (3 minutes).
At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. Among them was my friend and desk mate Brendan O'Brein. He was hard at work downloading all the publicly available data from the EPA and migrating it to a server in Canada before the Trump administration had an opportunity to wipe the data from the internet. By the end of the day, the group had collectively loaded 3,692 NOAA web pages onto the Internet Archive, and found ways to download 17 particularly hard-to-crack data sets from the EPA, NOAA, and the Department of Energy. Learn more at Wired (8 minutes).
The Iron Roughneck is a robot for the oil rig that automates the repetitive and dangerous task of connecting hundreds of segments of drill pipe as they’re shoved through miles of ocean water and oil-bearing rock. The machine reduces the need for roustabouts (cool job title!) by 33%. As the global oil industry begins to climb out of a collapse that took 440,000 jobs, anywhere from a third to half may never come back. A combination of more efficient drilling rigs and increased automation is reducing the need for field hands. Yet another example of the impotence of protectionist trade policies to save US jobs. China’s not stealing jobs, the robots are. Learn more at Bloomberg (3 minutes).
Do We Trust the Robots?
It seems inevitable that we’ll be working with robots soon, whether on the oil rig or at the law firm. The biggest obstacle to a fruitful human-robot working relationship may be our ability to trust them. The design goal becomes communicating the robot’s purpose through its behavior, it’s competence, and positive intent. That requires engineering a form of emotional shorthand, which is no easy task. Learn more at Inverse (7 minutes).
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist and collaborators are fine tuning the mechanisms to generate carbon-free energy from just water and sunlight using photoelectrochemical cells (PECs) to create hydrogen. The scalable and sustainable carbon-free energy is dependent on semiconducting photoelectrode materials for PECs. Unfortunately, thus far, no single material has yet been found that simultaneously satisfies the efficiency and stability required, but progress is being made. Learn more at phys.org (3 minutes).
Remember What You Read
You ever forget what you read? Here’s a test: Can you name one of the numbers from This Week By The Numbers section at the top of this email? … here are some tips: 1) Spacing. Your brain needs space between repetitions to remember. Immediate repetition doesn’t stick. 2) Chunking. Break large pieces of information down into smaller “chunks”. 3) Read it when you need it. You’ll remember better if you read material then immediately apply that material through some sort of action or experience. Learn more at Better Humans (5 minutes).
Am I In Love?
Martha Nussbaum writes about the challenges of answering that question: “We deceive ourselves about love — about who; and how; and when; and whether. We also discover and correct our self-deceptions. The forces making for both deception and unmasking here are various and powerful: the unsurpassed danger, the urgent need for protection and self-sufficiency, the opposite and equal need for joy and communication and connection. Any of these can serve either truth or falsity, as the occasion demands. The difficulty then becomes: how in the midst of this confusion (in addition to delight and pain) do we know what view of ourselves and what parts of ourselves to trust? Which stories about the condition of the heart are the reliable ones and which are the self-deceiving fictions?” I just thought this was beautiful, true… and confusing. Fall head over heels at brainpickings (15 minutes).
We’re Weird / The Struggle- Thanks Kyle. This week's briefing was particularly interesting (I read them every week). I'm currently a social entrepreneur who runs a 200+ person social impact company in the Philippines. Articles about the East vs. West are always fascinating to me being WEIRD and working in the East. And The Struggle article had me laughing out loud in Starbucks (perhaps not the normal response?), particularly the line, 'This is not checkers; this is muthafuckin’ chess.' made my night. – Kristian Pettyjohn.
Last week I asked if we should have some sort of community forum for further discussion on the Weekend Briefing. Here’s one perspective: Kyle, for feedback/conversations, could consider slack. Benefit of slack is it promotes real-time convo and back and forth. Email can cause clutter and blog posts tend to have long response times in between. – James Murphy
About the Weekend Briefing
Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. I love putting it together every week and love hearing your thoughtful insights. Feel free to shoot me an email with any feedback or suggestions. If you like what you’re reading, I’d be honored if you share it with your friends. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.