Small numbers, large impact — #112
And some scary big numbers, too.
This week, I've been reflecting on the concept of generosity.
In my view, people generally fall into one of two categories:
Those who genuinely believe that the success of others benefits them as well.
Those who perceive the success of others as a threat to their well-being.
I aspire to be in the first category, surrounded by like-minded individuals. Such a mindset, I believe, has the power to make our world a more compassionate place.
A green flag I look for in people is if they freely offer their time, resources, or expertise without expecting anything in return. People who seem to have the philosophy, "If I have something that can benefit you, I'm more than willing to share."
Over the years, I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by generous people. In turn, I always strive to return the kindness, whether by making introductions to people in my network, watering their plants when they are out of town, or offering them to sleep on my couch.
While I don't always have the energy or circumstances to be as generous as I'd like ("You can't pour from an empty cup", etc.), I try to remember that a small effort, for me, can make a significant difference for the person I help.
I'm a firm believer in Karma. It's a cycle of give and take. The more you give, the more you receive, and it all evens out in the end.
Starting a business often means relying heavily on one's network. Just last week, I reached out to people in my network for assistance with:
Refining our Value Proposition
Pricing Strategy x2
Fortunately, most of my friends also firmly believe in helping out, and they provided me with invaluable insights and perspectives.
My small way of giving back to the universe was to support with some Grade 10 Math.
In all these cases, I believe those of us who did the giving truly enjoyed being able to support. Making a difference for people we care about. That's the beauty of generosity. The more we help each other, the better we do as a group.
When you're asking someone for help, you're providing them an opportunity for them to feel good about helping you.
Helping others without getting anything in return, for example, through volunteer work, significantly improves our mental health and makes us live longer, according to research.
It's hard to think of a clearer win-win.
Five Small Things
Documentary The 15-minute documentary Born to be Mild about "the Dull Men's Club" might give you some new perspective on life.
Book The book Sand Talk - How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta.
App An independent alternative to Good Reads, Literal.Club lets you keep track of your reading and find new things to read based on what you enjoyed before.
Course I just started the one-year French immersion course from FussFreeFrench. It promises that I will speak decently in a year. Join me!
Interactive The Global Conflict Tracker maps all conflicts with impact on the United States (so there are quite a lot of them ...) and explains the background and context of each. Be aware of the US-centric views presented.
The News Section
Global Leaders and AI Developers Reached Important Agreement at UK's AI Safety Summit
This week, world leaders and AI developers gathered at Bletchley Park for the UK's AI Safety Summit. Representatives came from around the world - including the EU, US, China, and India - with prominent attendees such as Kamala Harris, Ursula von der Leyen, and Elon Musk.
UK's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak celebrated the summit as a diplomatic milestone since it resulted in an international declaration, backed by over 25 countries and the EU, emphasising the need to mitigate AI risks. A significant development was the multilateral agreement to test advanced AI models before and after their public release.
While some attendees, including Elon Musk, warned of AI's potential threat to human existence, the broader conversation gravitated towards the more immediate risks, particularly AI-driven disinformation campaigns that could jeopardise upcoming elections in nations like the US, India, and the UK. These current threats were also highlighted by Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, advocating for swift action.
The summit showed that the approach to AI regulation varies widely globally. While the EU is soon passing its AI act, UK officials expressed reservations about the feasibility of immediate regulation, given the industry's rapid evolution. However, the audience said there is a need for international summits like this one to shape a cohesive AI strategy. There's a growing call for a global consensus, similar to the International Panel on Climate Change, to clarify AI's capabilities and potential unwelcome consequences.
'Loss and Damage' Fund Talks Renewed in Abu Dhabi, Hoping to Finalise Negotiations Ahead of COP28 Summit
Climate crisis talks focusing on 'loss and damage' funding to assist the world's most vulnerable countries affected by climate disasters have resumed in Abu Dhabi. This comes ahead of the COP28 summit scheduled in the United Arab Emirates later this month.
The decision to create a 'loss and damage' fund came after complex negotiations at COP27 in Egypt a year ago and was seen as a notable stride forward. The goal is to bridge the financial gap between the developed countries causing climate change and developing nations being hit the hardest, with a focus on addressing the effects of extreme weather events.
While initial discussions started in March, they faced setbacks two weeks ago. The discussions in Abu Dhabi hope to create a unanimous decision before COP28 since it is essential to sidestep complicated negotiations during the summit.
Developed nations lean towards voluntary financial contributions, favouring a mix of traditional contributors like the US and Europe alongside emerging economies such as China. However, concerns loom among poorer nations regarding the governance and accessibility of any voluntary funds. Some advocates for the World Bank to be in the custody of the fund, citing its established infrastructure. Others, however, believe this move may disproportionately favour wealthy nations.
The funding mechanism remains a critical point of conflict. Suggestions on financing the 'loss and damage fund' range from carbon offsets to private sector contributions or taxes on frequent flyers and shipping charges. Furthermore, the role and financial obligation of emerging economies are also being examined.
Google DeepMind's AlphaFold Model Revolutionises Drug Discovery with Advanced Protein Predictions
DeepMind, a leading AI research lab under Google, has made significant strides in drug discovery with its latest AlphaFold model. Introduced nearly five years ago, the AlphaFold system was designed to predict protein structures.
This week, we learned that its most recent iteration could not only predict the three-dimensional structures for almost all molecules in the Protein Data Bank, the world's most extensive protein-structure database, but it can also model the structure of the proteins together with other molecules. Such predictions are crucial for drug discovery, helping scientists identify chemical compounds that can be designed into new drugs.
Isomorphic Labs, an offshoot of DeepMind, is already harnessing the capabilities of the new AlphaFold model for drug design. Traditionally, pharmaceutical researchers have relied on experimental methods to determine protein structures, and when that wasn't possible, they modelled structures based on the structures of similar proteins. AlphaFold starts from scratch and models protein structures without reference proteins, making it possible to predict structures of entirely new protein classes where there are no known structures available to start from.
Despite its groundbreaking capabilities, the newest AlphaFold isn't without its limitations. It struggles to predict the structure of RNA, another vital class of molecules that regulate the function of cells and organisms. But DeepMind and Isomorphic Labs are actively addressing these challenges for future versions.
(Thank you, Mum, for help with explaining the biochemistry).
Twitter Tries to Sell Dormant User Handles for Over $50,000
The latest strategic move at X, formerly Twitter, is to monetise dormant user handles, some fetching prices over $50,000. This initiative, circulating in rumours for a year, is now in motion, with potential buyers being approached through email solicitations.
This venture is led by the company's @Handle Team, which is developing a marketplace for unused account names. Forbes has unveiled internal communications detailing the revamp of the @handle guidelines.
Interestingly, although X began cleaning up inactive accounts in May, its official policy still says it is not releasing inactive usernames. However, it advises users to log in monthly to avoid being considered inactive.
In 2022, Elon Musk highlighted the issue of handles being seized by bots and expressed intentions to liberate them, with plans to release up to 1.5 billion usernames. Looking at the massive loss of ad profit since Musk bought the company, this new strategy seems like a limited way to boost X revenue long-term.
The Insights Section
Climate Crisis Costs $16M Per Hour in Weather Damage
Over the past 20 years, the climate crisis has resulted in an estimated damage cost of $16M per hour due to extreme weather events, according to a recent study. The research, the first of its kind, attributes these increased costs directly to human-induced global warming.
Between 2000 and 2019, the annual average damage was $140B, spiking to $280B in 2022. However, these figures might be underestimations, especially considering the lack of data from low-income countries.
The study, which combined global warming data with economic losses, revealed that 1.2 billion people were affected by extreme weather over two decades. Notably, two-thirds of these costs were due to lives lost, with storms accounting for most of the climate costs.
The research also suggests that current computer models might underestimate the financial impact of climate change. This study could be important in determining funding for recovery from extreme weather disasters, especially in poorer countries, and might also influence climate lawsuits.
The increasing economic losses from climate-related disasters underscore the urgent need for global action and research, particularly in vulnerable regions.
Only 3% Of Users Experience YouTube's 'Rabbit Hole' Effect, But That's 81 Users Every Month
The Stanford Internet Observatory discovered in a recent study that YouTube's algorithms rarely guide users into "rabbit holes" of alternative or extremist content. However, YouTube does cater to a niche audience actively searching for such content.
In 2019, YouTube made a change to reduce recommendations for harmful or misleading content but allowed those videos to remain on the platform. Analysing data from 1,200 users in 2020, the study revealed that extremist videos were predominantly recommended to those already subscribed to such channels.
The term "rabbit hole" describes users being led to increasingly extreme videos, a phenomenon experienced by just 3% of the study's participants. Yet, this seemingly small percentage equates to 81 million people monthly out of YouTube's 2.7 billion monthly users.
The research also highlighted that while a minority actively pursued extreme content, the majority of extremist views came from a few individuals with pronounced biases who expressed high levels of hostile sexism and racial resentment. And despite the infrequent unintentional exposure to extremist content via YouTube's algorithm, the platform still supports such channels, helping them build their dedicated viewership.
74% of False War Claims on X from "Verified Users", with 60% of X users being unaware that verification is now a paid feature
X, "previously known as Twitter", has been at the forefront of the misinformation crisis during the ongoing Israel and Hamas conflict. There's been a significant surge in misleading content, particularly videos and photos, across social media.
An analysis from NewsGuard revealed that 74% of the most viral false claims related to the war on X were spread by its "verified" users, who now pay for their blue checkmarks. This has raised concerns, especially since these misleading posts have garnered over 1.3 million interactions and reached over 100 million global viewers in just a week.
In a recent US survey conducted by YouGov for NewsGuard, it was revealed that most X users are misinformed about the platform's blue check mark verification. Specifically, 60% were unaware that this verification is now a paid feature. A significant portion of respondents held misconceptions about the blue check mark, with a quarter believing it signifies account authenticity and 16% associating it with higher credibility.
Under Elon Musk's leadership, X introduced paid verification and reduced its content moderation team, decisions that may have assisted the actors in spreading misinformation.
Gen Z's Preference for Short-Term Subscriptions Behind Tinder's Revenue Growth
Tinder has been introducing weekly subscriptions to attract younger users, especially Gen Z, who are more inclined towards lower-priced, short-duration subscriptions. The strategy has proven fruitful. Tinder's revenue rose 11% year-over-year, reaching $509 million, with weekly subscriptions playing a significant role.
Additionally, Tinder is expanding its exclusive, invite-only program called Tinder Select, priced at $499/month. Although currently limited in its reach, Match Group sees potential in "invite-only dating" and expects it to bring in substantial revenue in the coming year.
Looking ahead, Match Group aims to further increase its earnings by expanding into additional markets and exploring the use of AI to enhance user experience and grow its market presence.
Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something new. ✨
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