Weekend Briefing No. 485
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend and Happy Memorial Day!
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4,000 — Meta releases open-source AI platform capable of recognizing more than 4,000 languages and producing speech-to-text and text-to-speech in around 1,100 of them.
10,000,000 — The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom sold 10 million copies worldwide in just the first three days of release.
46,000 — Car dealerships finally have cars again. Dealerships had 1.8 million vehicles in transit or on lots as of April, up 50% year over year. The average vehicle sold for $46,000 in April, a historic high.
Social Media’s Impact on Kids
This week, the surgeon general issued an advisory today on social media and youth mental health. While the report highlights the benefits of social media, it concludes that the negative impacts are significant. (1) Children are starting to use social media too young. The report found two in five children have begun using social networks between the ages of 8 and 12 — a deeply vulnerable time where it seems unlikely that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. (2) Certain kinds of children are at higher risk of harm from social networks, including adolescent girls, kids with mental health issues, kids who have been cyber-bullied, kids with body image issues and kids whose sleeping patterns have been disrupted by social media. (3) There’s growing evidence that frequent social media usage can negatively affect the development of the brain. Small studies have shown that people with frequent and problematic social media use can experience changes in brain structure similar to changes seen in individuals with substance use or gambling addictions. The Platformer (9 minutes)
Should social media companies be doing more to protect kids? Should the government?
Section 230 grants broad immunity to online platforms, such as social media websites, internet service providers and other interactive computer services, from being held legally responsible for content posted by their users. On Thursday, in Twitter v. Taamneh, the Supreme Court ruled against the family of a 2017 ISIS attack victim who had sued Twitter, Facebook and Google in an effort to hold them liable for allowing ISIS to use their platforms. The court ruled unanimously that the lawsuit could not move forward. Along with that ruling, the justices sent Gonzalez v. Google LLC, a similar case, back to the lower courts. That decision sidestepped any major changes to the scope of Section 230. And, as some pundits have convincingly argued, Section 230 may provide too much immunity to Big Tech, even if it does help preserve and foster a flourishing internet. This seems to be the view of some lawmakers, too. But finding the line between “too much immunity” and “destroying the free internet” is nuanced and perhaps something that should first be fleshed out by the legislature. Tangle (6 minutes)
Portfolios With 5% Invested In Art Perform Better
Relative to a traditional portfolio composed of 60% large-cap stocks and 40% bonds, a portfolio which includes just a 5% allocation to contemporary art has historically driven not only higher returns but also a better risk-adjusted appreciation rate. In other words: More money in your bank account with fewer ups and downs. But you’re probably wondering how is the average person supposed to get access to an asset that has been the exclusive domain of the ultra-rich for centuries? The answer is Masterworks, an award-winning platform for investing in fractionalized works of art. It's not just easy to use. Masterworks has completed 13 exits on their artwork, all of them profitable, with the last three delivering net annualized returns of 35%, 4.1% and 325% to investors. Today, Weekend Briefing readers can get priority access to its latest offerings by skipping the waitlist with this exclusive link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
AI in Sales
McKinsey research suggests that a fifth of current sales-team functions could be automated. With its ability to analyze customer behavior, preferences and demographics, generative AI (gen AI) can generate personalized content and messaging. From the beginning, it can assist with hyper-personalized follow-up emails at scale and contextual chatbot support. It can also act as a 24/7 virtual assistant for each team member, offering tailored recommendations, reminders and feedback, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates. As the deal progresses, gen AI can provide real-time negotiation guidance and predictive insights based on comprehensive analysis of historical transaction data, customer behavior and competitive pricing. There are many gen AI use cases after the customer signs on the dotted line, including onboarding and retention. When a new customer joins, gen AI can provide a warm welcome with personalized training content, highlighting relevant best practices. A chatbot functionality can provide immediate answers to customer questions and enhance training materials for future customers. Gen AI can also offer sales leadership with real-time, next-step recommendations and continuous churn modeling based on usage trends and customer behavior. Additionally, dynamic customer-journey mapping can be utilized to identify critical touchpoints and drive customer engagement. McKinsey (12 minutes)
Journey of Desperation
The U.S. left them behind. They crossed a jungle to get here anyway. For thousands of Afghans, the American withdrawal from Kabul was just the beginning of a long, dangerous search for safety. More than 3,600 Afghans have traveled an agonizing route from Afghanistan to Pakistan, then flying to Brazil and walking to the U.S., which includes a perilous stretch through the Darién Gap. Many of them partnered with the West for years — lawyers, human rights advocates, members of the Afghan government or security forces. They packed up their children, parents or entire families; sold their apartments; and borrowed enormous sums to pay for the passage, convinced there was nothing left for them back home. Their journeys represent the collision of two U.S. policy crises: the hasty American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the record number of migrants crossing the U.S. border. Their journeys also speak to their desperation. New York Times (18 minutes)
Here are some mistakes we make when we’re overwhelmed: (1) You think you don’t have time for actions that would help you. (2) You don’t utilize your unconscious mind enough. (3) You interpret feeling overwhelmed as a weakness. (4) You default to your dominant approaches and defenses. Harvard Business Review (7 minutes)
Survivorship bias is a common logical error that distorts our understanding of the world. It happens when we assume that success tells the whole story and when we don’t adequately consider failures. There are thousands, even tens of thousands of failures for every big success in the world. But stories of failure are not as sexy as stories of triumph, so they rarely get covered and shared. As we consume one story of success after another, we forget that the story is being told precisely because it’s rare. Survivorship bias leads to an erroneous understanding of cause and effect. People see correlation in mere coincidence. We all love to hear stories of those who beat the odds and became successful, holding them up as proof that the impossible is possible. We ignore failures in pursuit of a coherent narrative about success. The result is an inflated idea of how many people become successful. Farnam Street (8 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.
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The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. -Tim Keller