262: Elon Musk + Twitter, Facebook AI Problems?, Nvidia's NVLink, Podcasts as Internal Business Tool, Aircraft Carriers, Telegram PSA, and Kenny G (?!)
"'Elon Musk' and 'passive owner' don’t exactly go together as concepts"
Repetition unlocks value.
The value of your first workout increases the more you exercise.
The value of your first article increases the more you write.
The value of your first conversation increases the longer you stay in the relationship.
Day One continues to compound.
💊🦾 Good question from supporter AT (💚 🥃) about the use of robots in pharmacies in edition #261:
Quite interesting on the robo pharmacists, I feel the big issue here is how do you have quality control and legal control. I know there are a lot of human errors in dispensing medication, but that has its own legal trail responsibility, where would it be for robot pharmacists (even though I think this will probably have many fewer errors and be more efficient there will still be errors).
Like with any new automation, I feel like you can have a bunch of controls to show how reliable they are, but it’s only time that will allow trust to accumulate in the system.
I wonder how long it took until pilots trusted autopilot systems after they first came out..?
I suspect It'll be similar with self-driving cars.
🐦 💊💊 🤪 Twitter always finds new ways to make me feel like I’m taking craaaazy pills. The latest example:
They’ve added an option to change playback speed on videos embedded in the timeline on the web version. That’s great! I tend to listen and watch most things faster than 1x…
…but they only put options to *slow down* videos, not to *speed them up*?!
Are they messing with us on purpose for some kind of large-scale sociological experiment?
Another annoyance: They replaced the “lists” shortcut in the interface with the “communities” one (the latest thing they’re trying to push).
Communities are ok I guess, but I use lists 10,000x more often. They should have a setting so that you can pick which things you want on the main interface, and which are buried in menus.
🥷 This is kind of random, but it may come useful at some point — you never know what you will remember in a situation when you need it! — so here are some tips from “street smart” redditors on what to look out for and what to avoid.
Say "what's up" first. I was in Harlem on the train platform about 1 am and a group was coming down messing with every person they came by. I gave a way early "what's up" and head up nod (not head down) and I just got back a "sup" and stares as they rolled on by. I use this when passing bus stop etc too, looks like you’re the one to avoid lol.
Also for anywhere in the US, if you're somewhere and there are lots of woman and children, you're probably in a safe environment. But if you find yourself on a street alone, or in the same environment as before and it's later and most of the woman and children have left. It's time to leave.
If an attractive woman asks for directions, look for her partner behind you or going into your car to take what they can grab.
Typical vacation area scam.
if someone is asking you for help, but you need to follow them around the corner to help them... don't. Politely say you're late to a meeting and keep walking.
If you are involved in confrontation pay attention to the hands. 2 things: - If they reach into their pocket and/or under their shirt you are likely going to be hit with something, stabbed, or shot. - if they are tucking their hands by their hamstring and/or clenching their first while looking you up and down you’re about to get punched.
confirm the license plate and make sure you are getting in your proper Uber/Lyft.
If someone is blatantly violating social norms, such as blasting music on the subway or taking a phone call in a movie theater, keep in mind that if they are willing to violate one social norm they are probably willing to violate others, including prohibitions on violence. You don't have to be meek in the face of obnoxious people but you do have to factor in the increased likelihood of violence.
When you stop your car, always make sure you have enough room in front of you for an escape route. It's impossible sometimes, but do the best you can
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Investing & Business
🐦 Elon Musk buys 9.2% of Twitter (73.5m shares) 🦅
Musk now owns more of Twitter TWTR 0.00 — $2.89bn before the stock shot up 20%+ on this news — than all other executives and directors combined, as per 2021’s proxy filing (they owned 20m shares combined, with 18m of those belonging to Jack Dorsey). He even owns more than Vanguard based on the 2022 preliminary proxy…
Does Musk have free time now? Is he looking for a new project? What are the odds he wants another CEO job? Seems to me like “Elon Musk” and “passive owner” don’t exactly go together as concepts… 🤔
It will certainly be interesting to have someone who actually seems to like Twitter (unlike Jack) trying to steer it in what is hopefully a user-aligned direction…
🤖 AI Problems at Facebook?
Meta, Meta, yea yea… META 0.00
At least four prominent members of Meta AI have departed in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter and LinkedIn analysis. Between them, the scientists have published dozens of academic papers in world-renowned journals and made multiple breakthroughs that Meta has used to enhance Facebook and Instagram.
Karl Hermann, an AI entrepreneur who used to work at rival lab DeepMind, told CNBC on Monday the true figure could be more like half a dozen, adding that the company’s London AI lab had seen an alarming number of exits. “Meta’s London office just collapsed and they lost most of their [top] researchers in the span of six weeks,” he said.
I have no idea what’s going on at the London lab, but this sounds worth noting.
Neil Lawrence, professor of machine learning at the University of Cambridge, told CNBC that he wasn’t surprised. “Mark’s [Zuckerberg] gone all Meta now ... and they never invested properly in anything in London in the first place,” he said. [...]
A number of other Meta AI staff have either left or are expected to leave in the coming weeks, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC, asking to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the issue. They added that there’s no one reason why people were leaving.
“Some people jump to another big lab because they feel it will advance their career or research agenda better,” the source said.
“Others go because comp or hiring potential for their team is better elsewhere,” the source added. “Others just want to do a start-up or get involved with a smaller company. For some it might be tied to Meta stock tanking, but I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the main reason.” (Source)
Maybe it’s just the wheels turning, a very competitive market for AI experts… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But retention of top talent should be job #1 for any tech company, so worth keeping an eye on.
🎧 💡 Podcasts as an *internal* business tool 🗣🎙👂
I had a very interesting discussion with friend-of-the-show David Senra (🎙) about companies using podcasts internally.
I can think of two approaches.
The first is having an internal podcast, like Shopify SHOP 0.00 does. It must be such a great way to have founders/CEOs/execs reach employees. Forget about long memos, conference calls, town hall meetings, etc.
Being able to listen asynchronously to a podcast of Tobi, Harley, and others, discussing various things about Shopify and how they’re thinking must be so much more effective (or at least nicely additive to other methods).
But what David brought up is something I hadn’t even thought about: Using external podcasts as internal tools.
Imagine having kind of like a book club, but for podcasts instead.
It would be — on average — much more effective because people actually listen to podcasts as opposed to reading books (so few people actually read, and those that do all have varying amounts of time and energy to dedicate to it, so you’ll never have everybody on the same page (ha!) — if you’re trying to reach most of your employees it’s the wrong medium).
Another idea: having meetings where the agenda is basically “let’s listen together to this podcast and pause after great ideas, and discuss them”.
It may sound time-intensive until you realize just how many meetings most people have and how low value most of these are, so in that context, it seems like a great use of time.
📈 One of these lines is not like the others
h/t Ben Casselman
Honesty Pays 😇
Heartwarming story — we need some good news these days — shared with me by friend-of-the-show Alex (👨🏻⚕️):
19-year-old Liberian Emmanuel Tuloe… was struggling to earn a living as a motorbike taxi driver when he found $50,000 (£40,000) in a mix of US and Liberian notes, wrapped in a plastic bag by the side of the road.
He could have easily pocketed this life-changing amount. But he gave it to his aunt to look after and when the rightful owner appealed on national radio for help in finding the cash, Emmanuel came forward.
Mocked by some for his honesty - people laughed at him saying he would die poor - his act earned him generous rewards including a place at Ricks Institute, one of Liberia's most prestigious schools.
President George Weah handed him $10,000 and a local media owner also gave him cash, some of which was raised from viewers and listeners. And the owner of the money that was found donated $1,500-worth of goods.
On top of those and perhaps most significantly, a college in the US reacted by offering him a full scholarship once he had completed his secondary education.
Sometimes the good guys win. Cheers to you, Emmanuel 💚 🥃
Who could have foreseen this? 📉 🚮
Shares of the blank-check firm bringing Donald Trump’s media venture public are sinking with daily downloads for the former president’s social media app declining 95% since launching last month. [...]
Downloads have slowly declined to 8,000 per day from an initial boom of 170,000, according to research firm Apptopia. The number of daily-active users on Apple devices over the past week was roughly 513,000.
Science & Technology
Why Nvidia is opening up NVlink, Bottleneck Edition
Friend-of-the-show Mule writes:
First, it seems like NVLink is meaningfully faster than the PCIe 6 spec that is coming out this year, and yet is still compatible with CXL. Compared to Infiniband this seems more “open” as an ecosystem than before, and this is where I think Nvidia is really playing for [...]
Everything else being equal the hardware should flow to the ecosystem with the fastest interconnect technology since that is the biggest bottleneck. Grace doesn’t have to beat Intel or AMD, it just has to tie them on performance and then offer the fastest and fully supported interconnect technology. Grace is close enough.
It’s generally a good idea to identify the bottlenecks in your industry and try to focus on being the one that can open them up for customers. NVDA 0.00
Descript ‘Overdub’ (AI model that synthesizes your voice)
I told you Descript was great. I haven’t personally used this feature, but check this out:
Makes me wonder if it’s harder for the AI model to make it sound seamless for people speaking a second language with an accent, like me 🤔
h/t friend-of-the-show David Senra (🎙)
Just a cool photo of aircraft carriers
HMS Queen Elizabeth (left) and HMS Prince of Wales (right) have rendezvoused with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (centre) in the North Sea today.
I thought, what a striking photo. Then I looked up the stats on those three carriers, and it made me realize that unless I’m missing something important, this photo is a composite and the carriers aren’t to scale.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are 280 meters (920 ft) long and have 65,000 tonnes of displacement.
The Charles de Gaulle is 261.5 meters (858 ft) and has 42,500 tonnes of displacement. So it is smaller but not *that* much smaller.
Still a cool photo, but don’t believe everything you see!
h/t George Allison
PSA: Telegram is NOT an end-to-end encrypted messaging platform 🔐🚫 ✉️
Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike:
Telegram is the most popular messenger in urban Ukraine. After a decade of misleading marketing and press, most ppl there believe it’s an “encrypted app” The reality is the opposite-TG is by default a cloud database w/ a plaintext copy of every msg everyone has ever sent/recvd.
Thread here going into more technical details.
The Arts & History
🎷🎶 ‘Listening to Kenny G’ (2021 HBO Documentary on Kenny G — YES! WHAT? YES… 😬)
I blame friend-of-the-show and supporter (💚 🥃) Brad Slingerlend for this one.
A few weeks ago in his excellent SITALWeek newsletter (go subscribe, it’s free), he wrote about watching this documentary, and it piqued my curiosity.
Kenny G. has always been kind of a punchline — like that scene in Wayne’s World when he’s in the audience at a Kenny G concert but he’s in a dentist chair getting a tooth drilled at the same time — and I didn’t really know anything about him or his music.
I went in thinking that maybe I had missed something, that maybe he was unjustly maligned. But I also knew he seemed to have interesting non-musical interests (being an early investor in Starbucks, etc).
Well, I’ve come out on the other side of watching the documentary glad I saw it, it’s really well-made, though I can’t say I’m more a fan of his music.
But I feel I understand him as a person much better, and there are very unique things about him as a best-selling musician (75m+ albums sold) that I think were worth making a documentary about.
The idea that he found an unserved niche (easy listening, smooth jazz, inoffensive music that can be played in offices and retail stores) and made a fortune by becoming the obvious brand — the “Kleenex” of that type of music, so to speak — is a good reminder of how this dynamic applies almost everywhere.
The interviewer asks him “what he loves so much about music”. Kenny thinks for a beat and says something like: “I’m not sure that I love music… but I love practicing! I love being good!”
Most musicians are artists who have a deep emotional connection to their art form.
Kenny G feels more like a self-contained technician, who just wants to achieve what he considers to be “great form” in his chosen “sport”.
I find his music very flat and mechanical, but what he seems to love most are the mechanical aspects — and by never moving too far away from the spot that he loves, going up and down scales without too much groove or dynamics or interaction with his band — he optimizes for his own pleasure of mechanically executing these “difficult riffs” that he feels are satisfying to play, as he puts it in the film.
He also seems to have a DEEP desire to please others.
There’s even some behind-the-scenes footage where he asks what they want him to give them in the interview; that he wants to be the best interview they’ve ever had, that he’s ready to sit in the chair all day if he has to, etc.
You can tell that his commercial success is no accident.
Re: Aircraft carriers:
Another very important distinction between the three aircraft carriers:
- HMS Queen Elizabeth & Prince of Wales are both diesel-powered.
- The French Navy's Charles De Gaulle is nuclear-powered.
That's an important difference.
Conventionally-powered carriers have limited range and time at sea as they must be constantly refueled.
Nuclear-powered carriers can stay out at sea, far away from their home ports for very long periods of time (supposedly 20 years!). That makes them basically a floating air force base that can station itself in position near battle zones for years, if need be.
To my knowledge, the Charles De Gaulle is the only non-US Navy nuclear powered aircraft carrier. No other navy has one. The US Navy has eleven!!
Re Podcasts: I feel like this can only work for people who like podcasts. I prefer reading and would really struggle if a company would run pods only.
Writing and pods come together well if you would offer transcripts, and recordings of writing, but the question is if this is possible and makes sense. It is probably a bit different format in any case. I would be interested in the stats of people listening to internal stuff.
We record a lot of meetings, but I never so far listened to any.