Discover more from Weekend Briefing
Weekend Briefing No. 507
A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
Did your brilliant friend share this with you?
42 — The recent adoption of touch-screen tip prompts has increased tipping. From March 2020 to May 2023, earnings from tips were up 42%. The issue, though, is that the omnipresence of the tip prompts is souring some on the institution as a whole; a 2022 survey found 66% of respondents have a negative view of tipping.
40 — Here’s a list of the 40 coolest neighborhoods in the world.
21 — Brittany Spears has a new book coming out. In the four days ahead of the book’s release, the Spears catalog racked up 8.89 million streams in the United States, up 21% compared to the previous week
Listening to Silence
What can we learn from nature when we pause to look and listen? Writer and American Sign Language interpreter Justin Maurer shares how being an interpreter for his deaf mom led to forming a punk band, presenting at the Oscars and seeking out one of the quietest places in the world. Check out this video of his talk. Patagonia (11 minutes)
Scaling Nuclear Power
I’m a huge fan of nuclear power because it is a carbon-free energy supply, it’s powerful and it’s available right now. A nuclear power plant can generate over 57,000 MWh/acre compared to solar at 200 MWh/acre, or a natural gas plant at 1,000 MWh/acre. For further perspective, a single reactor can power over 1 million homes with over 90% uptime. In fact, our existing, and largely paid off, nuclear fleet also produces the cheapest base load electrical power at around $30/MWh. And because nuclear energy doesn’t involve hydrocarbon combustion, it generates power without producing carbon dioxide emissions. However, critics often argue that nuclear power is unsafe or unsustainable, citing fears about potential accidents and the accumulation of nuclear waste. These concerns are largely unfounded and reveal a misunderstanding about advancements in nuclear technology. But if we’re going to normalize nuclear power as a reliable and well-understood energy source, it’s essential to understand our current situation and what we can do to scale it. This post focuses on large-scale nuclear fission reactors because that’s what has been delivering civilian power for the past several decades. Smaller, more modular reactors will likely play a major role going forward, perhaps as a means to address more local, and even hyper-local, energy needs. Also, nuclear fusion, which could be even more powerful, is on the horizon. a16z (14 minutes)
This Asset As Bought for $19K and Sold for $110 Million
When a New York City real estate developer purchased an untitled painting from a little known artist for $19K in 1983, he definitely wasn’t expecting a 5,798x return on his investment. But that's exactly what happened when he sold the Basquiat work for a stunning $110 million in 2017. Now, everyday investors are unlocking access to the very same market thanks to the blue-chip art investing platform Masterworks. Masterworks’ nearly $1 billion collection includes works by greats like Basquiat, Banksy and Picasso, all of which are collectively owned by everyday investors. When Masterworks sells a painting — like the 16 it's already sold — investors reap their portion of the profits. With over 840,000 users, offerings can sell out in minutes, but Weekend Briefing readers can skip the waitlist to join with this exclusive link. Masterworks (Sponsored)
The Gates Foundation is already seeking to support artificial intelligence (AI) tools to revolutionize health and well-being for people around the world. Here are the principles that will guide their use of AI: 1) Adhere to our core values. The use of AI technology is therefore grounded in the need to promote greater equity and opportunity for resource-poor communities. 2) Promote co-design and inclusivity. Low-income countries must not just be seen as beneficiaries or end-users of AI but as essential collaborators and partners in program design and uses. 3) Proceed responsibly. We will proceed in a stepwise fashion, starting with a confined set of use cases and gradually scaling up as the evidence base is built out. 4) Address privacy and security. It will be important to regularly conduct privacy and security assessments, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations, including data protection laws and transparency and accountability measures. This also includes continuously engaging with stakeholders to improve systems. 5) Build for equitable access . A commitment to equitable access is not just about distribution but also about ownership, maintenance and support for AI uses within the development context. 6) Ensure transparency. Given the potential for companies to commercialize the use of AI tools, we understand the importance of approaching this work with transparency. All of our grants are a matter of public record, and we adhere to a conflict-of-interest policy that guides all our work. Data should be shared to the greatest extent possible as a public good to allow for continual testing, improvement and innovation. Gates Foundation (16 minutes)
The Machine Breaker
“They called me a terrorist with anarchist intentions,” explained Stephen McRae. “But my hatred is for machines, not people.” He referred to the complex of machines and its technocratic tenders as the “megamachine,” after the formulation of the social historian Lewis Mumford. Mumford warned against the takeover of society by technologies that would make us its dependents and, at long last, its servants — technologies that have now deranged the climate because they are fueled by burning carbon. “Down with the megamachine” was McRae’s motto. He declared himself a “madly matriarchal, tree-hugging, godless feminist with a gun.” He was on a mission to destroy and disable power plants, substations and mines to protect nature. This is his story. Harpers (25 minutes)
Piper Sandler just released its semi-annual survey of teens. Here’s what the kids are up to these days: 1) More teens own virtual reality devices but are using them less. 2) Teen boys spend about 11% of their money on video games. 3) Cash App is the most preferred peer-to-peer money transfer app. 4) New Balance is on the rise. They surpassed Vans as the No. 4 favorite footwear. 5) Chick-fil-A remains the most favorite restaurant. 6) Seventy percent of teens have used Spotify over the last six months with 46% of teens paying for the service. Piper Sandler (16 minutes)
Today, a “digital afterlife industry” is already making it possible to create reconstructions of dead people based on the data they’ve left behind. As humans, we all have to confront our own mortality. The datafication of our lives means that we now must confront the fact that data about us will very likely outlive our physical selves. The discussion about the digital afterlife thus raises several important, interrelated questions. First, should we be entitled to define our posthumous digital lives? The decision not to persist in a digital afterlife should be our choice. Yet could the decision to opt out really be enforced, given how “sticky” and distributed data are? Is deletion, for which some have advocated, even possible? IEEE Spectrum (12 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.
I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers. - Khalil Gibran