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Weekend Briefing No. 191
Welcome to the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at SOCAP this week. I’m teaming up with ImpactAlpha and NextBillion to throw a happy hour on Wednesday, and you’re invited. Come grab a drink with us. Click here to sign up.
This is a busy week in SF, and would love to connect with as many of you as possible so, here’s where I’ll be:
Monday – Echoing Green Summit
Tuesday – ADAP Deal Room
Wednesday – Happy Hour
Friday – Workshop: Form Follows Function
325,000– The ever-expanding racks of processors used by miners already consume as much electricity as a small city - 500 megawatts to be exact - enough to supply roughly 325,000 homes.
1,516 – The attack at a country music festival in Las Vegas that left at least 58 people dead is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history – but there were six other mass shootings in America this past week alone. This is a sobering infographic of deaths and injuries from 1,516 mass shootings in the US in 1,735 days.
12 – One in three unicorns are now born in China. So far this year, 12 of the 33 new billion companies created around the world come from China.
Consumer spending in Africa is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025. The following strong structural fundamentals are in place to drive the consumer opportunity: (1) A young and growing population. The continent’s population is projected to grow by 20 percent over the next eight years, with Africa’s youth making up 40 percent of the total. By 2025, almost one-fifth of the world’s people will be living in Africa. (2) Rising incomes. Since 2005, increases in spending per household have been responsible for about 40% of consumption growth in Africa. By 2025, 65% of African households will be in the “discretionary spending” income bracket. (3) Widespread technology adoption. By 2020, half of Africans—up from 18% in 2015—are expected to own a smartphone, which they can use to buy and sell products and services, pay bills, and make remittances. McKinsey (12 minutes)
What’s the best way to support micro-entrepreneurs in Africa? Helping entrepreneurs to grow small businesses by teaching them formal business skills has yielded mixed results. A new study in Science proves that teaching entrepreneurial skills to the self-employed works much better in terms of increasing both sales and profits. The entrepreneurial training relies on psychological mechanisms that enhance personal initiative. A randomized controlled trial in Togo assigned microenterprise owners to a control group of either a leading business training program, or a personal initiative training program. Four follow-up surveys tracked outcomes for firms over 2 years and showed that personal initiative training increased firm profits by 30%, compared with a statistically insignificant 11% for traditional training. The training is cost-effective, paying for itself within 1 year. Science (22 minutes)
Sometimes it’s easier for us to face the need in a developing nation across the world than the struggling family just down the street. Purposity (purpose through generosity… get it?) is trying to solve for that. They connect local donors with those in need in their own community via a simple text message. Social workers identify those who need a little extra help and add them to Purposity with their stories included. Donors scroll through the list of unmet needs and donate or purchase products listed on an Amazon wishlist. Whiteboard, a digital design agency, built the product and is currently testing in six southeastern cities before rolling out nationwide. Check out for yourself to see how thoughtful technology can connect you to your neighbor's needs at Purposity (Sponsored Briefing)
Americans & Automation
A recent Pew study shows that Americans generally express more worry than enthusiasm about AI & robots. Most prominently, Americans are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans. 76% of Americans expect that economic inequality will become much worse if robots and computers are able to perform many of the jobs that are currently done by humans. A similar share (75%) anticipates that the economy will not create many new, better-paying jobs for humans if this scenario becomes a reality. And 64% expect that people will have a hard time finding things to do with their lives if forced to compete with advanced robots and computers for jobs. 85% of Americans are in favor of limiting machines to performing primarily those jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans. Though American’s believe automation will negatively impact other people’s jobs, just 30% of workers think it’s at least somewhat likely that their jobs will be mostly done by robots or computers during their lifetimes. Pew (14 minutes)
Job Skills 2030
So, if AI and robots are going to have a huge impact on the workforce how do we build the right skills to succeed over the next couple decades? A new study from Oxford lists five skills that will make humans marketable in the future: (1) Judgment and decision making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions and the ability to choose the most appropriate one. (2) Fluency of ideas: The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity). (3) Active learning: Learning strategies—selecting, using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things. (4) Learning strategies: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. (5) Originality: The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem. That all suggests that things like creativity, adaptability, and judgment will be more important than, say, subject-specific knowledge or the ability to use a nail gun. It’s hard to argue with that: the former skills all represent abilities that are a long way from appearing in any machine, while the latter can easily be replaced by simple AIs and robots. MIT Technology Review (3 minutes)
At its core, Steemit looks a lot like any other social network. The most popular tags include things like photography, life, travel, art, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Steemit itself. However, every time you log onto Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to share a photo or post an article, you give up a piece of yourself in exchange for entertainment. This is the way of the modern world: Smart companies build apps and websites that keep our eyeballs engaged, and we reward them with our data and attention, which benefit their bottom line. Steemit, a nascent social media platform, is trying to change all that by rewarding its users with cold, hard cash in the form of a cryptocurrency. Everything that you do on Steemit—every post, every comment, and every like—translates to a fraction of a digital currency called Steem. The more your content is up-voted by the rest of the community, the more money you earn. It’s like Reddit, but with financial stakes in the game. Wired (11 minutes)
Kelp Is the New Beef
Raising cattle takes a lot of land and feed–plus there’s all that cow flatulence, which contribute heavily to global warming. So a new food production company has created an alternative, a faux meat snack that’s animal-free and environmentally friendly: sustainably farmed kelp jerky. The jerky, created by a food startup client of mine called Beyond the Shoreline recently launched and is already winning awards and even some praise from Sir Richard Branson who says, “it’s rather delightful.” Fast Company (3 minutes)
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About the Weekend Briefing
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