445: China's Strategic GPU Reserve, Amazon, Streamer Inflation, TikTok Tic Toc, Huberman + Ferriss, Extralingual Tastebuds, and HBO
"Our questions have leverage over our whole life."
The first stone is decisive because it is the most difficult to throw...Because it is the only one without a model.
🤔💭🕵️♂️If you had to improve the quality of your questions, how would you go about it?
Don’t answer with the first thing that comes to mind!
Spend at least 15 seconds thinking about it (it’s longer than you think — we usually jump to conclusions much faster than that). Ideally even longer.
Still thinking about it? Good!
Now that you’ve thought about it: Why don’t you implement that?
Our questions have leverage over our whole life.
📸🏞️🏞️🏞️🏞️👀 Do you ever feel like you don’t remember the original thing, but rather a later retelling or rethinking of the thing? A copy of the original?
In other words, you think you’re remembering that time in 2008, but you’re actually remembering that time in 2016 when you thought about what happened in 2008.
I don’t think it’s necessarily all one or the other. Memories likely include a blend of the original imprint plus various copied versions over time (minus some fading of whatever we forgot).
But it’s probably messier than that if you take into account that whatever the original memory is *isn’t* really of what actually happened, but rather a subjective version of it, filtered through all kinds of things like our specific perspective, our emotions at the time (and since! the remembering is colored too, not just the initial memory), our context at the time (and since), what we did or thought about before that moment, what we did or thought about after, the smells in the air, how hungry we were, did we sleep well, etc.
Memory is kind of an impressionist painting of an impressionist painting, photocopied a few times and then transferred to a VHS tape, edited down to a montage, and then transferred to a 240p YouTube video (with subtitles that don’t quite match the audio).
⛱️🧘🏻♂️😎👨👩👦👦 Next week, I will be on vacation with my family.
I’ll do my best to touch grass a stay offline.
We rented a log cabin that has a barrel sauna, so that should be fun.
If I stick to the plan, there won’t be any Editions next week, but I will try to get something special 🎧 out to you before I go (if all goes well).
💚 🥃 🐇 What has value in your life?
Is it the stuff? Is it the people? Is it the ideas? Is it understanding how things work? Is it discovering new art that makes you feel something? Is it playing pickup basketball with your buddies?
Hey, I’m just asking, I can’t tell you! 💡
Everyone has to figure this out for themselves, it’s crucial because it has an influence on so many other decisions that will then shape your life. You end up in different places based on these forks in the road. 🚦
But if you value what I’m sharing here, I hope you’ll become a paid supporter so that you can get even more of it and help me keep this steamboat in the water!
➡️ There’s a 7-day free trial if you want to explore! ⬅️
🏦 💰 Liberty Capital 💳 💴
🇨🇳 ‘Strategic GPU Reserve’: Chinese Internet Giants are Gobbling Up Nvidia GPUs ($5bn in orders) 💰💰💰💰💰
Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent and Alibaba have made orders worth $1bn to acquire about 100,000 A800 processors from the US chipmaker to be delivered this year, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The Chinese groups had also purchased a further $4bn worth of the graphics processing units to be delivered in 2024, two people close to Nvidia said.
Pricing isn’t static and the 2024 chips are probably H800s, but if we normalize everything on 2023 A800 units to get a ballpark, the whole order would be for about 500,000 GPUs!
A big motivator is to stockpile as many chips as possible before a likely next wave of restrictions, which may prevent the sale of even the A800.
Two employees with direct knowledge of the matter said ByteDance had already stockpiled at least 10,000 Nvidia GPUs to support its ambitions. They added that the company had also ordered almost 70,000 A800 chips to be delivered next year, worth about $700 million.
That’s 80,000 A800 GPUs on top of whatever they already had, just for ByteDance!
Alibaba plans to plug all its products into its large language model, including its online shopping platform Taobao and its mapping tool Gaode Map.
Meanwhile, Baidu is making its own ChatGPT-like project
Some exports-controls-limited H800 GPUs are also starting to pop up in China:
Tencent Cloud in April released a new server cluster — computing power for others to rent — wielding the Nvidia H800 GPU, a version of its latest H100 model adapted for China.
Alibaba Cloud has also received thousands of H800 chips from Nvidia
In the same way that countries have a strategic petroleum reserve, it looks like China’s Big Tech Cos have been building a “strategic GPU reserve” 🤔
And that’s what we can track. How many GPUs are being smuggled from other countries?
📺 Streaming services price increases 💵📈
Analysis: a basket of the top US streaming services will cost $87 per month this fall, vs. $73 a year ago; the average US cable TV package costs $83 per month
There have been many price increases from streamers lately. Disney+ and Hulu have even raised prices more than once in the past year.
Hulu is obviously making a lot of money from ads because they are clearly trying to push subs to that tier by increasing the differential with the ad-free package.
Was the TV bundle “socialism that worked”? (as Ben Thompson (💚 🥃 🎩) has said)
Are people soon going to miss it when they realize that they are paying as much as they used to and/or don’t have access to what they want to watch anymore?
Of course, how video is available today is infinitely better than before: On-demand and 4k HDR quality with ATMOS sound are huge improvements over the past, and not having ads is also worth a premium over traditional cable (what’s more valuable than our time?).
But when it comes to what is available, it’s getting confusing 😵💫 to figure out where something is, and if you happen to like things that are spread over many services, the costs can quickly add up (on top of the annoyance of the friction of constantly switching services and searching where things are).
It kind of makes me wish for a lot of consolidation when it comes to distribution so that there would be just as much quality media being produced, but most of it would end up in a few places (ie. Netflix) and everybody could focus on what they do best: Distribution *or* making quality films & TV shows.
Via Ars Technica
TikTok tic toc, tic toc… 🕰️
Why hasn't TikTok been spun out from Bytedance and HQ'ed in the US yet? 🤔
The expected value of that move seems so high… It would greatly reduce the risk to its terminal value I don’t know what’s stopping it. Is it political considerations that are overriding the business calculus? Xi playing chicken with the West?
Speaking of ByteDance, this is pretty bonkers:
And yeah, Twitter is like a bird that never learned to fly 🐦…
⛈️ Natural catastrophes cost insurers US$50 billion in the first half of 2023 🌪️
This compares to $48 billion for the same period last year. But last year was also high.
If you compare to a longer-term view:
“insured losses [for severe convective storms] are almost twice as high in a six-month period as the annual average of the last 10 years (US$18.4 billion),” which highlight the increasing loss impacts of secondary perils, Swiss Re continued. [...]
US thunderstorms cost insurers US$34 billion, or 68% of global insured natural catastrophe losses – the highest-ever insured losses in a six-month period. Swiss Re added. (Source)
Mother Nature is angry:
Overall economic losses from natural catastrophes amounted to US$120 billion in H1, compared to US$123 billion during the prior-year period, which is 46% above the ten-year average.
The single costliest disaster both in terms of economic and insured losses was the February earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which had an insured price tag of US$5.3 billion. The preliminary estimate for economic losses are US$34 billion, according to the World Bank. (Overall economic losses include insured and uninsured losses).
Overall insured losses of US$50 billion in the first half were the second highest insurance price tag since 2011.
🎶✋ Music Labels want to bankrupt one of the most important websites on the internet over 70yo+ vinyls 🤦♀️
Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and other record labels on Friday sued the nonprofit Internet Archive for copyright infringement over its streaming collection of digitized music from vintage records. [...]
They named 2,749 sound-recording copyrights that the Archive allegedly infringed. The labels said their damages in the case could be as high as $412 million. [...]
The Great 78 Project encourages donations of 78-rpm records -- the dominant record format from the early 1900s until the 1950s -- for the group to digitize to "ensure the survival of these cultural materials for future generations to study and enjoy." Its website says the collection includes more than 400,000 recordings.
Sadly, this isn’t the only lawsuit.
As I wrote previously, book publishers are also suing, and a judge has ruled in favor of the publishers (let’s see about appeals).
I’ll just repeat what I already said: ⬇️
Do you know what I would like to see?
A tech billionaire needs to endow the Internet Archive with a bunch of money for operations AND a bulletproof legal defense fund. 💰💰💰
If Wikipedia is our library of Alexandria, the Internet Archive is the Internet’s oldest and largest museum, with a priceless collection of digital artifacts that would otherwise be lost to 404 errors, shut down servers, and bit rot. 🖼️
⚡️ Amazon Lightning Round 🛒🚚📦📦📦📦
Amazon is rolling out a new generative AI feature that summarizes product reviews for customers.
[The Goal is to] help shoppers determine at a glance what other customers said about a product before they spend time reading through individual reviews. It will pick out common themes and summarize them in a short paragraph on the product detail page.
Amazon Cuts Dozens of House Brands as It Battles Costs, Regulators
The Seattle-based company in the past year has decided to eliminate 27 of its 30 clothing brands [...]
Amazon also is dropping private-label furniture brands, phasing out Rivet and Stone & Beam once its stock of those items is gone [...]
Exact numbers for brands being cut in other parts of the business couldn’t be learned, but Amazon Basics, which sells a range of home goods and tech accessories, will remain a focus for the company.
Amazon Wants to Deliver Your Order Without a Box
A new television may sit in the manufacturer’s box at the door. A blender appears as if it were picked off a store shelf. The same for a box of baby wipes or trash bags.
The change represents the next frontier in the tech giant’s overhaul of its delivery processes, one Chief Executive Andy Jassy hopes will appeal to customers who are put off by the volume of Amazon-branded boxes they receive and discard every week. [...]
Amazon is using its formidable clout with packaged-goods companies and other suppliers and vendors, as well as incentives, to get them to improve their packaging to survive shipping.
Amazon Offers Sellers AI Tool to Write Product Descriptions
Amazon’s new feature prompts merchants who are adding new products to the site to enter keywords describing their wares. The tool will then generate a potential title, description and bullet points for the listing
The Year of Efficiency isn’t just for Meta!
🇨🇳🕯️ China is going Dark (when it comes to official statistics)
Of course, politicians usually don’t try to hide *good* news, so the inference is clear.
The graph above likely mirrors China’s economic performance, which makes it a strange meta-metric 🤔
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🧪🔬 Liberty Labs 🧬 🔭
Andrew Huberman + Tim Ferriss
I enjoyed this conversation, pretty wide-ranging and full of interesting topics.
👅🔍 Extralingual Taste Buds
TIL about extralingual taste buds, including on the palate and other areas of the mouth and throat:
Additional taste buds are located on the human soft palate, oral and laryngeal pharynx, larynx, and upper esophagus.
Extralingual taste buds are not located in papillae but rather are situated in the epithelium. Palatal taste buds are located at the juncture of the hard and soft palates and on the soft palate. Laryngeal taste buds are found on the laryngeal surface of the epiglottis and adjacent aryepiglottic folds.
The number of extralingual taste buds is substantial, and they may contribute to the taste experience. Stimulation of some extralingual taste buds, particularly those near the larynx, elicits brainstem-mediated reflexes that prevent accidental aspiration of ingested materials.
🇸🇪 Sweden: We need to triple nuclear capacity to meet surging electrical demand ⚛️
Today, Sweden is getting roughly half of its electricity from hydro and half from nuclear.
But as transportation, industrial uses, and heating are getting electrified (heat pumps!), demand is expected to go up a lot:
Sweden said it needs to [triple] nuclear power capacity over the next couple of decades to meet a surge in electricity demand.
At least 10 new conventional reactors need to be built by 2045, Romina Pourmokhtari, the nation’s climate and energy minister, said in a statement on Wednesday. The biggest Nordic nation has six reactors in operation today.
Of course, the Germans have to make bad energy decisions, even in other countries:
Vattenfall AB and Finland’s Fortum Oyj are studying building small modular reactors that could come online at some point in the first half of next decade. However, German utility Uniper SE, which operates Sweden’s biggest reactor, earlier this month dealt a blow to the government’s ambitions by saying it had no plans to invest further in the technology.
🎨 🎭 Liberty Studio 👩🎨 🎥
🎞️ Hey HBO! Make a 10-part Mini-Series based on ‘The Making of the Atomic Bomb’ 💣
Now that Christopher Nolan has shown that there’s an appetite for these types of stories, how about Craig Mazin making a 10-part prestige TV series for HBO based on Richard Rhodes’ ‘The Making of the Atomic Bomb’?
That’s the best idea I’ve heard all week!
(Mazin made ‘Chernobyl’ and ‘The Last of Us’ (🎧))