A Few Things: OUTLIVE, Predicting The Future, The Age of Average, China's Strength, Replika AI, Attention Is All You Need....
April 6 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: A Great Question, Power & Prediction, Unconventional Guide To Happiness, The META Trends, News You Missed, Altman on Fridman, How To Use AI To Do Practical Stuff, Short History of AI....
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Quotes I Am Thinking About:
“Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
- William Arthur Ward
“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
- Alexander Graham Bell
"The world will ask you who you are, and if you don't know, the world will tell you."
- Carl Jung, on the value of knowing yourself
“Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.”
- William Cowper
“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
- Milton Friedman
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:
1. My favourite strategist Marko Papic at Clocktower Group had a new piece discussing his market view that the banking crisis in the US is not systemic because despite the banks, household and private sector balance sheets are in good shape.
He wants to stay Short USD and remain long risk assets in the US since he believes a recession will be avoided….but he’s most excited about the commodity secular bull market (specifically EV-related industrial metals and gold), which is based on 3 pillars: geopolitical conflict, a capex-led cycle, and widespread risks to supply. The greatest supply risk is the rise of ESG and lack of capital investment in commodity production.
2. George Mack had a great twitter thread on predicting future trends.
3. Everywhere we go, everything we see is becoming more and more similar. Interiors, architecture, cars, brands, media and even the way people look!
This piece titled: The Age of Average goes deep into example after example and tries to shed some light on it. There is no lightbulb moment or satisfying explanation though. Only evidence. Maybe because it's so easy to find a guide for how to do anything these days, so few think from first principles anymore.
4. Given all the China bashing going in Western media (check out the cover), the Economist piece: An unlikely harbour: In a correlated world, China’s peculiarity is a strength is a good read.
Even the new cold war may not undermine the case for China as a hedge. In the Asia-Pacific region, the country’s onshore stocks are already among the least sensitive to American growth or financial conditions, according to Goldman Sachs, a bank. America’s efforts to decouple from China and China’s offsetting efforts to encourage self-reliance could untether the market’s fortunes from America still further. That will weaken China’s efficiency but increase its resilience. The country will become a less attractive source of growth but a more useful source of diversification.
China has risks of its own. But that is the point. China’s financial risks are its own, whereas America’s quickly become everybody else’s, too. Risks with Chinese characteristics could offer some respite from risks with global characteristics.
OUTLIVE: The Science and Art of Longevity is the new book by Peter Attia and Bill Gifford. We discussed it in previous emails too, and I just finished the book last weekend.
These are the 6 things I got from the book, and where I have made changes:
Medicine 2.0 vs Medicine 3.0: Medicine 2.0 is about medication and procedures, while Medicine 3.0 is about using exercise, nutrition, sleep, emotional well-being and lastly supplements / medicine to extend health-span.
In Medicine 3.0 the focus is on prevention versus treatment and focusing on the quality of their lifespan rather than just prevention of death.
Outliving the 4 Horseman of Death: What’s unique about Centenarians? They are resilient to and can delay the onset of the 4 Horseman: Cancer, Metabolic dysfunction (diabetes), Cardiovascular and Neuro-Degenerative diseases.
The book dives into the latest science around exercise, nutrition, sleep, emotional well-being and lastly supplements / medicine to outlive the 4 Horseman.
For example, a fact I didn’t appreciate: 50% of major adverse cardiovascular events in men, such as heart attack, stroke, or procedures involving a stent or a graft, occur before the age of 65. And 25% occur before age 54.
Exercise: The most powerful longevity drug. Turns out your VO2 max is highly correlated with longevity. Consider this study, a person who smokes has a 40% greater risk of all-cause mortality (that is the risk of dying at any moment) than someone who does not smoke, representing a hazard ratio of (HR) of 1.40. The study found that someone of below-average VO2 max for their age and sex (between 25th and 50th percentile) is at double the risk of all-cause mortality compared to someone in the top quartile. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness carries a greater relative risk of death than smoking.
The strong association between cardiorespiratory fitness and longevity has long been known, but it may surprise you to learn that muscle may be almost as powerfully correlated with living longer. A 10-year observational study of 4,500 subjects aged 50+ found that those with low muscle mass were at 40-50% greater risk of mortality than controls, over the study period. Further analysis revealed that it’s not the mere muscle mass that matters but the strength of those muscles.
Exercise is so effective against aging that it’s often been compared to medicine.
The goal is to exercise regularly with a focus on three key themes a) building and maintaining strength b) improving your cardiovascular fitness - tracking your VO2 max is a good marker c) improving stability, flexibility and mobility.
4. The Centenarian Decathlon: What are the ten most important physical tasks you will want to be able to do for the rest of your life. It’s a great template for visualising exactly what kind of fitness we need to build and maintain as we get older. For me this list will include simple things like:
Hike 2 miles on a hilly trail
Pick up a young child from the floor (grand kids)
Carry two five-pound bags of groceries home
Lift a twenty pound suitcase into overhead compartment
Climb a long flight of stairs and walk up a steep hill
Carry my own luggage
Open a jar
Do 5 pull ups
Balance on one leg for thirty seconds
Once you know where you want to be 50 years from now, you need to train accordingly, knowing your strength, energy levels will decline with time.
5. Nutrition: We all know what we need to do around our diets.
I have added additional protein to the diet, with a goal of 1g of protein per lb of lead body mass, reduced processed foods, increased variety of fruits & vegetable and cut my sugary carbohydrates.
6. Cancer: Screen Early & Often. The best way to fight cancer is to find it early. There are many screens and tests worth doing. I’ve heard a lot about the Galleri test.
Peter Attia did a podcast with his co-author last week discussing the motivation behind the book and the main themes. It will give you a good flavour of what’s in there.
C. The Technology Section:
1. One of experiments we are doing as a family is spending time on a new AI tool every week to learn what’s out there and figure out for ourselves what’s good or bad.
This week the kids used Replika. It was created by Luka, Inc. in 2017 long before the current AI boom, is “the AI companion who cares.”
Here’s how it works: users sign up for Replika to get an AI companion, a digital friend or more with whom they build a virtual relationship. They can chat via text, set up video calls, or even “explore the world together in AR.”
The Replika website boasts that over 10 million people have joined Replika, and there are currently 65.1k people in the r/Replika subreddit, which is filled with stories of virtual relationships that applied a salvo to very real cases of loneliness and depression.
The tech is actually pretty slick. You can speak to it just like Joaquin Phoenix speaks to Scarlett Johansson in HER.
2. Packy McCormick writes good deep analysis on technology, he recently covered Open AI: Attention is All You Need.
It builds on Ben Thompson’s Aggregation Theory, that catalog businesses that capture value by controlling demand for abundant resources. Aggregators have three defining characteristics:
Direct Relationships with Users
Zero Marginal Cost for Serving Users
Demand-driven Multi-sided Networks with Decreasing Acquisition Costs
Think Google and Facebook, the Super-Aggregators. Billions of users come to their sites, where they’re served content created by other people for free, and it gets cheaper to acquire users over time as demand attracts supply which attracts more demand which attracts more supply, and so on. Better experience leads to more users which leads to more suppliers and advertisers which leads to more users, and so on.
From Packy’s piece talking about OpenAI:
As it stands today, if OpenAI chooses to, it can build the Apex Aggregator by building an Action Engine. The Action Engine subsumes search and any number of products that let users do things, and it does them for users with nothing more than a simple prompt. If Aggregators controlled demand and commoditized supply, the Apex Aggregator can control demand on multiple fronts, turn attention into actions, disaggregate any supplier that feeds it, and even aggregate the aggregators. It could make Apple, Google, and Facebook’s models seem soft and cuddly… until they fight back.
OpenAI hits its partners from all angles:
Attention Grabber. ChatGPT is the front-end for OpenAI, the “aggregator” to which over 100 million users flocked within the first two months. ChatGPT will let OpenAI control demand for abundant resources, which are themselves tailored to OpenAI.
Intelligence API. A number of new products are being built around OpenAI’s API and a bunch of incumbent products are re-architecting themselves around OpenAI’s API. Unlike most APIs, which serve non-core functions, the OpenAI Intelligence API is core to many of these product experiences.
Plugin Play. Products, whether built on OpenAI’s APIs or not, can now be plugged into ChatGPT itself (and potentially into OpenAI’s Intelligence API over time), turning the product into both platform and aggregator, and bringing more attention to ChatGPT. Unlike an App Store, which just lists apps but doesn’t ingest its capabilities, this essentially turns any plugin into an API that gives ChatGPT its company’s full capabilities.
This has been a great thought experiment:
Extrapolations is a bracing drama from writer and director Scott Burns that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives.
Eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith and family from across the globe explore the intimate, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet is changing faster than the population.
The series stars Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Edward Norton, Diane Lane, Matthew Rhys, Gemma Chan, David Schwimmer, Marion Cotillard, Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire, Heather Graham….
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 enjoy this article, don’t be shy.
Have a great Easter Weekend.