A Few Things: Always Takes Longer, Meta-Skills For the Future, Special Sits In Privates, Living Longer, Age Of HyperIntelligence, Sensemaking, Mo Gawdat on AI Risk, Josh Wolfe on Making Money in AI...
July 19 2023
I am sharing this weekly email with you because I count you in the group of people I learn from and enjoy being around.
You can check out last week’s edition here: The Future Of War, How To Do Great Work, Big Shorts & Big Longs, Great Idea Funnel, Special Sits in Privates, Dating an AI, Epic EM Bull Market, The AI Dilemma and Reid Hoffman on AI...
Quotes I Am Thinking About:
“A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.”
- Winston Churchill
“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
- Herbert Simon
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
- Anne Lamott
"Being a contrarian is actually very easy. The problem is being a contrarian that makes money.”
- Steven Peak
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:
1. It Always Takes Longer. This is a welcome and necessary reminder from Ryan Holiday that success—however you define it—always takes longer than you expect.
Joe Rogan, before moving to Spotify with a $100 million check, he had already published 1,529 episodes. David Senra (Founders podcast), before his breakout success in 2022, he'd been publishing weekly podcasts for 5+ years.
So what are the keys to success? : "Patience, perseverance, and humility”.
2. It’s the era of the generalist. It’s about being more human, more creative, a deeper thinker. Being a specialist used to be the way forward, but the future belongs to people who can adapt to any given scenario on a dime.
It used to be the case that learning a particular trade or skill meant you could land a reliable career. These days, however, constant learning is both expected and required to stay afloat. Rather than developing competency in, say, analysis or communication, modern life demands that we become more agile and able to shift on a dime towards the particular skills that challenges require.
That is why cultivating meta-skills is so important. Meta-skills are broad capabilities that help you to develop other skills and can be applied across a wide variety of domains. As more jobs become automated, possessing these skills will be more important than ever
3. Worth re-sharing Jeremy Giffon’s Invest Like The Best podcast discussing Special Situations in Private Markets. Many people reached out saying how amazing he was.
4. Inflammation is a natural and necessary biological response to injury or infection, but due to our modern lifestyles, it’s become a response that doesn’t always go away when it should. Chronic unresolved inflammation is now a widely accepted cause of many serious health conditions.
5. Bill Miller is an all time great investor. He’s been in the game for decades and this was a great discussion on what he’s learned and how to make real money in public markets.
6. Continuing on from our Future of War discussion last week, Bruno Macaes wrote an excellent piece in Time Magazine about Palantir Technologies and how they are reshaping the battlefield in Ukraine.
He was invited to Palantir’s offices in London to see the technology in action. His comment? “I have not been able to stop thinking about the experience ever since”.
The article goes into some detail about war scenarios and gives an illustration of how important the tech is. Macaes imagines a not-too-distant future where algorithms battle each other and a battle or war may even end before it begins as the superior algorithm demonstrates its superiority first, removing the need for an actual battle.
B. The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence?
Sometimes to see things better we have to zoom out.
"Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence" is a book written by James Lovelock, a renowned British scientist, environmentalist, and futurist. Lovelock presents his visionary perspective on the future of life on Earth, particularly focusing on the emergence of hyperintelligent beings.
It starts as a good merger of Peter Frankopan’s The Earth Transformed and and Toby Ord’s The Precipice, and then the later half is more like an Isaac Asimov novel.
The central concept of the Novacene is the idea that humanity is approaching a new era, distinct from the Anthropocene (the current geological epoch marked by significant human impact on the Earth's geology and ecosystems).
Lovelock proposes that the Novacene will be characterised by the rise of hyperintelligent beings, which he calls "cyborgs." These cyborgs are not the traditional humanoid robots but rather a combination of highly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems coexisting with and integrated into human society.
According to Lovelock, these hyperintelligent cyborgs will surpass human intelligence and take over the role of maintaining and guiding the Earth's systems. He envisions them as a symbiotic force that will enhance the planet's ability to sustain life, prevent ecological disasters, and address complex global challenges.
Instead of fearing the AI takeover, he proposes a cooperative relationship where humans and AI collaborate to tackle complex global challenges.
My take: the notion of hyperintelligent beings raises concerns about control and accountability. As AI systems become more sophisticated, questions arise regarding who holds the power and responsibility over these advanced entities.
The risk of AI systems making decisions beyond human comprehension and control is daunting, potentially leading to unforeseen consequences.
The history of human technological advancements is fraught with instances of unintended consequences and unforeseen negative impacts. The book also does not thoroughly address the potential economic and social implications of widespread AI integration. The displacement of human labor by AI-driven automation and the concentration of AI power in the hands of a few tech giants could exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities.
I guess now we know what to worry about.
C. The Power of Sensemaking
We live in an overly quantified world. Everything is measured, compared and recorded many times over. We manage people and make decisions based on excel spreadsheets and social media feeds.
In his thoughtful and succinct book, "Sensemaking," Christian Madsbjerg, a Danish philosopher and business consultant, shows us how important human intelligence is, especially in the age of algorithms. He explains how we can use it to solve complicated problems that machines and data alone can't handle.
The book argues that instead of just relying on numbers and science, we need to pay attention to culture, language, and history to make better sense of things.
What makes it even more beautiful is that Christian was thinking this in 2017.
Madsbjerg introduces five key principles of sensemaking that guide us through understanding the world (worth re-reading them a few times):
North Star not the GPS: We should focus on how people experience things, not just what they say or do. By understanding their feelings, perspectives, and motivations, we gain deeper insights.
The savannah not the zoo: It's not enough to stay behind our desks. We must go out and immerse ourselves in the situations we want to understand. By interacting with relevant people, places, and things, we gather valuable information and insights.
Thick data not just thin data: Instead of only looking at dry numbers, we should use qualitative data that captures the richness of human experiences. Looking for patterns, meanings, and stories in the data can lead to important discoveries.
Creativity not manufacturing: This means thinking creatively and imaginatively. We shouldn't stick to strict logic but use intuition, analogies, and stories to explore different possibilities and test them against the data.
Culture not individuals: We need to consider the cultural and historical context of the problems we're facing. Understanding how culture shapes people's values and behaviours can provide better solutions.
This is a philosophical and thoughtful book and in some ways it is a simpler version of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World" by Iain McGilchrist.
What am I trying to do differently after reading this book:
Pay real attention. Go find the thick data rather than use thin data from behind my desk, and stay open to new ideas and information.
Solve the real underlying problems. Spend more time understanding people’s core emotional interests and their pains.
You can listen to Christian discuss his work below.
Thank you Brandon Green for the introduction to Christian and his works.
D. The Technology Section:
1. A good recent podcast to discuss what can go wrong with AI in the near term (without it being a discussion of killer bots or Terminator) between Mo Gawdat and Scott Galloway.
Mo Gawdat, the former Chief Business Officer of Google [X] and an author joins Scott to discuss the need to control our response to AI, how this technology is impacting society, and the four major threats he’s identified.
His three threats to humans over next 5 years:
Concentration of Power in the hands of the people with the technology. Those with the technology won’t want to share it whether to further their own corporate or personal agenda.
The End of Truth. The Media landscape across the board has bias, because in a world focused on grabbing large audiences and clicks, outrage and anger sells. AI puts all of this on steroids.
Job Losses. AI can do knowledge work and creativity is inevitable. The only place for humans to hide will be human connection. People don’t appreciate how fast these systems are developing.
He ends with a call to action on what we can all do about it.
Listened to this one twice.
Josh shared a ton of super valuable “insider” perspectives.
Three Big ideas:
Meta / FB will continue to focus on open source models to reduce regulatory risk…but PyTorch is a real competitor to CUDA and maybe one way NVIDIA’s losses it’s chokehold on the market.
The intersection of biology and LLMs is where the opportunity set is today. Combining AI and Biology will lead to real results….Deep Mind and Meta have already been doing a lot of discovery.
Models are going multi-modal. Think voice, videos….It’s not just about text anymore. For example check out this AI video of Sinatra singing Gangster’s Paradise.
Believe it or not, that “♡ Like” button is a big deal – it serves as a proxy to new visitors of this publication’s value. If you enjoyed this, don’t be shy.
Watched this movie on the way to Mexico City. It’s a great and sad story and shocking how long it went on for.