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Weekend Briefing No. 489
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
It’s Summer, so, I’m going to try an experiment for a few weeks and see if it’s interesting. Next week, I’m going introduce a new section called Featured Comment. The idea is that I’ll feature a comment from the previous week and give a shout out to the commenter. Looking forward to featuring your brilliant comments in the briefing.
Secondly, earlier this year I asked you to give me your perspective on how you think about your purpose in your role as a parent.
150+ of you answered the call. On Father’s Day I sat down to review (seemed appropriate). The responses were intentional and thoughtful. The most popular traits we want our kids to exhibit are:
Contributing to their community / world.
You can read all the responses here. If you have time it’s worth a read and may inform your thinking. I also included a word cloud and a word count chart so you can visualize the major themes.
$23.31 — A new study of three supermarkets in Sweden found that on weekdays, customers spent an average of $23.31 per person when music was playing in the supermarkets compared to $14.96 per person when music was not playing.
0.2% — Economists say the accompanying surge in hotel prices when Beyonce opened her tour in Sweden led to an estimated 0.2% rise in Sweden’s inflation rate. She’s literally moving national economies now.
650,000 — Apparently, there are 650,000 ways that online advertisers label you.
Ian Bremmer poses the question: What will the world look like in the next few decades, and how much will technology companies influence that future? Their influence continues to grow. With the tools provided by technology companies, Ukraine was able to defend itself from Russian cyberattacks, and its leaders could communicate with generals and soldiers on the front lines. However, technology companies have also promoted disinformation and conspiracy theories, which contributed to the riots in the Capitol on January 6, trucker riots in Ottawa and the January 8 insurrection in Brazil. This is a staggering amount of power in the hands of these companies. The question remains: What will they do with that power? It depends on who they want to be when they grow up. There are three possibilities: (1) If China and the United States exert much more power over the digital world and technology companies in those countries align with those governments, we will end up in a technology cold war. This means the digital order will be split in two. (2) If technology companies persist with global business models and we retain competition between the digital and physical worlds, we will have a new globalization, a digital global order. (3) If the digital order becomes increasingly dominant and governments erode in their capacity to govern, technology companies will become the dominant actors on the global stage in every way. This will result in a techno-polar order, which will determine whether the world has limitless opportunities or no freedom. TED (15 minutes)
What about you? Which scenario do you think is most likely? Why?
One Final Beatles Song
Paul McCartney said he’s created one final Beatles song, featuring the late John Lennon, by employing artificial intelligence (AI). The singer-songwriter star told BBC’s Today radio program on Tuesday that he had used AI to “extricate” Lennon’s voice from a demo cassette the singer recorded shortly before he was killed in 1980. The record will be released later this year. The song has not yet been named, but the BBC reported that it was likely to be a 1978 composition called Now and Then, one of several tracks on a cassette labeled For Paul that Lennon created before his death. McCartney told Today that while he worried about some of the applications of AI, it allowed him to retrieve Lennon's “pure” voice. “It’s kind of scary but exciting because it’s the future,” he said of the technology. “We’ll just have to see where that leads.” Semafor (2 minutes)
Profit from a $45 Million Banksy Collection?
Yes, that's right, THE Banksy. It may sound too good to be true, but this investment platform's users are already benefiting. It's all made possible by Masterworks, who sold a multi-million dollar Banksy on behalf of everyday investors for a 32% net gain. And that's just one of their sales. Masterworks has completed 13 exits, all of them profitable, with 3 recent sales delivering net annualized returns of 17.8%, 21.5% and 35%. How does it work? Simple. Masterworks does all of the heavy lifting like finding the painting, buying it and storing it. It files each offering with the SEC so that nearly anyone can invest in highly coveted artwork for just a fraction of the price. Shares of every offering are limited and can sell out fast, but Weekend Briefing readers can skip the waitlist with this exclusive link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
AI + Humans at Work
To foster a symbiotic relationship between humans and AI, organizations must find the appropriate balance between investing in human skills and technological capabilities, and thinking strategically about how they attract and retain talent. To do this effectively, they need to think about where and how this technology will be used to assist people in their work — where people and machines will collaborate — and where either people or AI have skills that give them a clear advantage. Harvard Business Review (11 minutes)
Moravec's paradox is the observation that many things that are difficult to do for robots come easily to humans, and vice versa. Stanford University professor Chelsea Finn has been tasked with explaining this concept to five different people: a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student and an expert. WIRED (20 minutes)
There is a kind of cultural stigma attached to boredom, particularly in the United States. Regardless of education, income or race, parents believed children who are bored should be enrolled in extracurricular activities. Yet, guarding kids from ever feeling bored is misguided in the same way that guarding kids from ever feeling sad, or ever feeling frustrated, or ever feeling angry is misguided. Here’s what you and your children can learn from feelings of boredom. (1) Boredom is telling you what you’re doing right now is not working. It’s uncomfortable but not necessarily negative. (2) Boredom offers children an opportunity to experiment with the kinds of pursuits that feel fulfilling and interesting to them. (3) Phones and devices require little effort, so children and adults often turn to them as a way to soothe feelings of boredom. It makes complete sense, but obviously that doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for them in that situation. New York Times (6 minutes)
Keys to the City
Leading up to his retirement, a New York craftsman trains his young protégé. In this short, charming documentary by Ian Moubayed, we take a peek behind the curtains of a New York City locksmith and a human story. Check it out. New Yorker (32 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.
Check out Founder Fridays — A Friday morning briefing helping founders scale smarter.
The more I see, the less I know for sure. -John Lennon