Weekend Briefing No. 514
Researchers have built a hybrid biocomputer — combining a laboratory-grown human brain tissue with conventional electronic circuits.
Welcome to the weekend.
Did your brilliant friend share this with you?
9,578 — Disney has struck a deal with Comcast to acquire Hulu. A combined Disney+ and Hulu library would contain 9,578 content pieces, according to a new analysis from Ampere Analytics, just behind Amazon Prime Video’s 10,892 titles and slightly more than Netflix’s 8,391 titles.
22 — After much exploration, NASA's Perseverance rover pieces together the history of Mars' Jezero crater based on sedimentary analysis. The area was once a lake stretching up to 22 miles across.
17 — Here are the 17 best streets in the U.S. to view Christmas lights.
Researchers have built a hybrid biocomputer — combining a laboratory-grown human brain tissue with conventional electronic circuits — that can complete tasks such as voice recognition. The technology could one day be integrated into artificial-intelligence (AI) systems or form the basis of improved models of the brain in neuroscience research. The researchers call the system Brainoware. It uses brain organoids — bundles of tissue-mimicking human cells that are used in research to model organs. Organoids are made from stem cells, which are capable of specializing into different types of cells. In this case, they were morphed into neurons, akin to those found in our brains. The research aims to build a bridge between AI and organoids. Nature (8 minutes)
AI and Loneliness
New York City launched a pilot program in 2019 to combat loneliness in seniors by providing them with AI-powered robots called ElliQs. The program participants reported a decrease in loneliness and an increase in social interaction. However, engagement with the robots declined over time. Despite the decline in engagement, the ElliQ program was a success overall. Fifty-nine percent of users reported the device was "very helpful" at reducing loneliness, 37% reported it was "helpful" and only 4% reported it as "unhelpful." However, more research is needed to develop robots that are better able to understand and meet the needs of seniors. Arstechnica (7 minutes)
It’s Time to Fix What’s Broken.
As a society we have a problem always chasing the next new thing, ignoring what already exists. You see this in the underinvestment we make in cities, neighborhoods, institutions and systems, ignoring their needs and the people who depend on them. The same is true with social entrepreneurship and the ecosystem that enables it. Too much time, energy and resources are focused on starting new ventures and building new systems to the detriment of fixing what’s in place, as imperfect as it maybe. While in the past, disruption has been game changing- creating new cures, new answers, new access points, much has been counterproductive- often diverting precious resources to create new systems that never reach their potential—all at the expense of being able to make quick fixes to existing systems that can help those in need now. “Instead of Disruption, Leverage What Already Exists” published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review lays out this insight. As the article says, “The allure of disruption and systems change from the top down was hard to ignore until the facts showed us something had changed. And it was undeniable.” DRK Foundation (Sponsored)
Inflation at McDonald’s
What can McDonald’s teach us about inflation? Maybe you’ve had a late night at the karaoke bar, and you hit up McDonald’s on your way home. You may have realized that it’s very easy to spend a lot more these days on fast food in ways that don’t necessarily show up in inflation data. While McDonald’s basic items — hamburgers, fries and sodas — have increased in price, it’s relatively modest. Instead, rates are changing through: 1) Strategic price increases, such as raising prices on popular items by a few cents or adding new items with higher price tags. 2) Introducing specialty items, such as burgers with avocado for customers that are less price-sensitive. 3) Upselling grilled onions, which are often offered as a premium add-on. 4) Promoting delivery, which typically comes with a service fee. Silver Bulletin (11 minutes)
Gen Z in the Workforce
Instead of learning from their colleagues in the office, Gen Z, who entered the workforce as remote workers, has been largely left to their own devices. This lack of in-office learning, combined with layoffs and the effects of inflation, has left many Gen Zers feeling on edge. A Deloitte survey of 22,000 people from March found that nearly half of Gen Zers said they felt anxious and stressed almost all the time, while only 39% of Millennials said they felt the same. Managers note that there is a paradox to Gen Z's workplace anxiety. On the one hand, many Gen Zers come across as confident. But underneath the strong exterior, many younger employees are insecure because they don't really understand how to work. They wonder if they've done something wrong, or if they're just not cut out for the workforce. Business Insider (9 minutes)
Could airships make a comeback? Domestically, trucks transport most goods, as they offer the right combination of price and speed. Airships could fill a similar role for international freight shipments. They could cross an ocean in a week rather than the month it takes cargo ships. Airships are also incredibly fuel-efficient, making them a sustainable form of transport. Additionally, they are several times cheaper than planes. Could airships become the trucks of the sky? Perhaps. Veritasium (21 minutes)
If you look at most concept cars designed a quarter-century ago, they look dated and are a product of their times. One exception is the Ford 021C, designed in 1999 by Marc Newson. It looks as if it could've been unveiled at this year's Tokyo Motor Show. By concentrating purely on form and simplicity, Newson has created something pretty darn timeless. If Ford rolled this out as a low-cost EV today, they'd sell like crazy, particularly in Europe and Japan. Check these photos out. Core 77 (3 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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It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. -Confucius