A Few Things: Kai-Fu Lee, How To Be A Curiosity Sherpa, Fat Leonard, Where is Energy Headed, Chris Sacca & Harry Stebbings

October 17 2021

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

- Joseph Campbell

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

- John Wooden

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

- Lao Tzu

A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:

1. Will I see you in Madrid in November? If you are a Family Office, you should definitely check out Club B. I’ll be there.

2. One of my favourite new people on the internet is Tom Morgan. He was on the Value Hive podcast discussing: How To Be Curiosity Sherpa.

Tom has a great way of combining big ideas, and they discussed a number of big ideas here: destroying mental models, closing the gap between the map & territory, what is the potential global phase change?, NFTs, DAOs, and bubbles and the flow of networks.

3. We discussed Daniel Yergin’s The New Map in January, and he was on Bloomberg discussing the Energy Markets and why prices are headed higher.

4. Billion Dollar Whale and Blood and Oil have been some of my favourite books of the last few years. Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, the authors of Billion Dollar Whale are now working on Project Brazen - breaking new stories.

Their latest is Fat Leonard, an insane story of corruption in the Navy.

I have been absolutely loving their podcast series. Prepare to be shocked and entertained.

5. Robert Plomin, the author of Blueprint, was on the Infinite Loops podcast discussing: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are.

We discussed his book Blueprint a few months back (highly recommended).

6. Great HBR article on what motivates life long learners. Thank you Nicolas B for sharing.

We discovered that rather than fear, employees who learned and grew in this way tended to exhibit what we have called the passion of the explorer. This passion is a very powerful motivator for learning.

As we observed in the employees we studied, the passion of the explorer has three key elements:

  • Explorers have a long-term commitment to achieving impact in a specific domain that excites them — anything from factory work or financial services to gardening or big wave surfing.

  • They are excited in the face of unexpected challenges. Explorers view these hurdles as an opportunity to learn and achieve even greater impact. In fact, if they’re not confronted with enough challenges, they get bored and seek environments that will give them more.

  • When confronted with new challenges, explorers have an immediate desire to seek out and connect with others who can help them get to better answers faster so that they can increase their impact.

Our study showed that people who are passionate in these ways learn much faster than those who are motivated by fear.

But here’s the challenge for organizational leaders looking to instill this passion in their employees. That same research we did revealed that, at most, only 14% of US workers express this form of passion in relation to their work.

Why are the numbers so low? And is it possible to change them — to instill this passion in your people? Or are some people just incapable of being passionate in this way?

I believe that we all have the potential for this form of passion. Go to a playground and watch children 5-6 years old. They have all of the elements required: curiosity, imagination, creativity, and a willingness to take risks, and connect with others.

Instead, I believe that the reason that the numbers are so low for adults is that most of us have been discouraged from pursuing something that is intrinsically human so that we can fit in to institutions that want us to become cogs in a machine, following the process manual to the letter, faster and cheaper. That’s because employers have traditionally been suspicious of this form of passion. Passionate explorers ask too many questions, they deviate from the assigned script, and they take too many risks.

Cultivating the passion of the explorer enables innovative thinking in the organization at a whole new level. The institutions that restore our humanity in this way will unleash a much more powerful form of learning among all workers that will lead to exponentially expanding opportunities. But harnessing that opportunity requires us to move beyond fear and to find and cultivate the passion of the explorer that lies waiting to be discovered in all of us.

7. How humanity doubled life expectancy in a century - TED talk by Steven Johnson. It’s probably not what you think.

We discussed how to live to 150 and Sergey Young 2 weeks ago.

8. A beautiful piece exploring Earth’s history and why birds can fly over Mount Everest. Thank you Azeem.

9. You have heard me talk about Uranium in the last few weeks, and with the world focusing on climate change and energy prices rising why are nuclear plants being shut down:

B. AI 2041: Ten Visions for the Future

Kai-Fu Lee wrote his latest book: AI 2041: Ten Visions for the Future, with his friend and well-known science fiction writer, Chen Quifan. It uses stories to make the world of AI accessible.

The book covers technological scenarios, extrapolating out 20 years to 2041, and Chen Quifan put them into stories – followed by an explanation.

I recently heard him speak at a Pi Capital event where he discussed what’s focused on and his views on AI.

Kai-Fu is investing in these 6 mega trends:

  • Computer Vision: Already being applied in everything from autonomous vehicles and Augmented Reality to facial recognition and surgical procedures

  • Natural language processing: AI algorithms have beaten humans in computer vision,  the next frontier is natural language.

  • Robotics: The next big thing. China can only remain the world’s factory if it maintains its lead in automation.

  • Transportation: We will be seeing a revolution in smart cities and autonomous vehicles (AV). They are investing in AV companies that are working directly with municipal governments, including on safety. This makes AVs “highly monetizable and not very dangerous.”

  • Manufacturing: Going forward, energy becomes a question of manufacturing. The winners will be those that make the best solar panels and batteries. Batteries are a big investment theme for him.

  • Life sciences: We are seeing big advances in areas such as mRNA, genetic sequencing and  multiomics. These breakthroughs are all digital in nature, so they are “begging for AI to be applied.” 

His broader thoughts on AI versus human intelligence were intriguing:

AI has developed a great way of reasoning for itself, but this is “totally different” from the human process.

There are currently two schools of thought on AI:

a) Deep learning and data driven methods will continue to do more if we just tweak them and add data.

b) For AI to do more, we must add human cognitive capabilities.

To him, both schools of thought are valid. Nevertheless, over time he has “completely switched” to the data-driven camp, having started his PhD very much in in the human cognitive camp.

We have not made too much progress on what makes human intelligence possible, but we know much more about what intelligence means. We also know that there are two distinct ways to make intelligence possible – the human way and the AI way. This is “phenomenal progress.”

Thinking visually, there are two separate circles that denote human and AI intelligence with some “significant intersection” between the two. Over the next 20 years, the AI circle will get so much bigger than the human circle; AI will become much more powerful. But there will still be many things that humans can do which AI can’t do.

He did a good job on the Hidden Forces podcast if you want to skip the book.

If you want to go deeper into human and AI could work together, I really liked this Wait But Why post on Neuralink and the Brain.

Thank you to Tania R for amazing notes.

C. The Tech and Crypto Section:

1. Why Web3 matters according to a16z.

2. My friend Dror Poleg is always ahead of his time. His latest titled: Invisible Hierarchies, is a great discussion on the War for Talent and why corporations may disappear.

3. Coinbase will allow you to buy NFT’s soon, you can get on the waitlist for access here.

4. Climate tech is the hot new thing and Chris Sacca is probably the right guy for the job.

5. I’ve been trying to learn more about Climate tech - Carbon Capture & Removal is a big part of that.

This Founders Field Guide discussion with Jonathan Goldberg (ex-GS & Glencore) of Carbon Direct has a great discussion on the opportunities in commodities, with a deep dive into carbon capture and trading. Thank you Max L for the recommendation.

Do you recommend anything for me to get smarter on climate tech?

Twelve years living in England and thirteen years of marriage to an English woman…..I’m still figuring this out. Are you?