Weekend Briefing No. 467
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Did your brilliant friend share this with you?
1,411,750,000—The population of China fell for the first time since 1961, declining by 850,000 last year to 1,411,750,000.
1,000,000—A Swedish mining company said they found more than 1 million tons of rare earth oxides, the largest deposit of its kind in Europe. This could potentially end the European Union’s dependency on China for the rare earth elements necessary for electric vehicles and wind turbines.
$3—Over an eight-year period, the average price of a plain slice of pizza increased from $2.52 to $3. This calculation excludes dollar slices. Starting in 2014, one man logged every slice of pizza he ate in New York City—464 slices to be precise.
Chat GPT on Campus
Across the country, university professors, department chairs and administrators are starting to overhaul classrooms in response to ChatGPT, prompting a potentially huge shift in teaching and learning. Institutions of higher education have been reluctant to ban the artificial intelligence tool because administrators doubt the move would be effective and they don’t want to infringe on academic freedom. That means the way people teach is changing instead. Professors are phasing out take-home, open-book assignments, which became a dominant method of assessment in the pandemic but now seems vulnerable to chatbots. They are instead opting for in-class assignments, handwritten papers, group work and oral exams. New York Times (11 minutes)
What do you think? Should ChatGPT be banned at school? How will this technology ultimately shape our pedagogy?
Chat GPT Journaling
Journaling is a great practice for personal growth. But journaling has a few problems. It can be hard to get motivated to do it. It can be difficult to stare at a blank page and know what to write. Typical prompts are “What are you grateful for today?” It can feel a little silly. Is summarizing my day really worth something? You want your journal to be personal to you, and the act of journaling to feel fresh and full of hope and possibility every time you do. Unfortunately, paper isn’t great at those things. But GPT-3 is. Journaling in GPT-3 feels more like a conversation, so you don’t have to stare at a blank page or feel silly because you don’t know what to say. The way it reacts to you depends on what you say to it, so it’s much less likely to get stale or old. It can summarize things you’ve said in a new language that helps you look at yourself in a different light and reframe situations more effectively. It becomes a guide through your mind—one that shows unconditional positive regard and acceptance for whatever you’re feeling. It asks thoughtful questions and doesn’t judge. It’s around 24/7, it never gets tired or sick, and it’s not very expensive. Every (14 minutes)
When Care is Not Fair
Being seriously ill is bad enough, being squeezed at the same time with crushing medical bills is unforgivable. One of the best kept secrets in America today is that many who face this exact situation and whose incomes average less than 250% of federal poverty guidelines qualify for so called “charity care policies” under the 501(r) federal charity care law and are entitled to have their medical bills waived. Why? Because the majority of hospitals are non profits and to qualify for this tax status they must have charity care policies in place. Unfortunately, too many hospitals don’t comply and fail to tell their patients about these policies, instead turning over their bills to debt collectors forcing millions of Americans to declare bankruptcy, sell their homes or enter into payment plans for bills they don’t have to pay. Dollar For, in Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation’s portfolio, is working to change this. DRK Foundation (Sponsored)
A teenage girl's incurable cancer has been cleared from her body in the first use of a revolutionary new type of medicine. All other treatments for Alyssa's leukemia had failed. So doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital used "base editing" to perform a feat of biological engineering to build a new living drug for her. Six months later, the cancer is undetectable. Base editing allows scientists to zoom to a precise part of the genetic code and then alter the molecular structure of just one base, converting it into another and changing the genetic instructions. The large team of doctors and scientists used this tool to engineer a new type of T-cell that was capable of hunting down and killing Alyssa's cancerous T-cells. BBC (7 minutes)
According to more than two dozen current and former Twitter staffers, since buying the company in October 2022, Elon Musk has shown a remarkable lack of interest in the people and processes that make his new toy tick. He has purged thousands of employees, implemented ill-advised policies and angered even some of his most loyal supporters. Those who remain at the company mostly fall into two camps: people trapped by the need for health care and visas, or cold-eyed mercenaries hoping to ascend through a power vacuum. If “free speech” was his mandate for Twitter the platform, it has been the opposite for Twitter the workplace. Dissenting opinions or criticism has led to swift dismissals. Musk replaced Twitter’s old culture with one of his own, but it’s unclear, with so few workers and plummeting revenues, if this new version will survive. In some ways, Musk was vindicated. He promised to rightsize a bloated company, and now it operated on minimal head count. But Musk appears unaware of what he’s actually broken: the company culture that built Twitter into one of the world’s most influential social networks. Twitter’s policies attempted to keep the platform safe and increase trust in its users, who populate it every day with their conversations, breaking news and weird jokes. New York Magazine (36 minutes)
Envy the lumberjacks, for they perform the happiest, most meaningful work on earth. Or at least they think they do. Farmers, too. Agriculture, logging and forestry have the highest levels of self-reported happiness—and lowest levels of self-reported stress—of any major industry category, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. The most stressful sectors are finance and insurance; then education; then a broad grouping of professional and technical industries, a sector that includes the single most stressful occupation: lawyers. Together, they paint a simple picture: A white collar appears to come with significantly more stress than a blue one. Washington Post (8 minutes)
Look Better on Camera
How much time do you spend on Zoom each week? I’m guessing it’s more than 10 hours. Do you ever wonder what you can do to look better on camera? Here are some practical tips: 1) The rule of sixths. Break your shot into six sections. You occupy the middle two. Your job is now to fill the other four in an interesting way. 2) Cooler colors are generally better for a background. 3) Shoot into a corner to create a larger sense of space. This results in longer sight lines that can be a great tool when your desk is too close to the wall. @theKevinShen (4 minutes)
Should We Work Together?
Hi! I’m Kyle. This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm that helps startups move fast without breaking things. Most founders want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a flat, monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a one-on-one call with me.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. -Confucius