- Better Odds
- 🔮 Getting In The Race — #120
🔮 Getting In The Race — #120
Setting things up for the outcome you want.
And I realised success requires the courage to believe in your capacity. Daring to think you will make it.
Some years ago, I did a half Ironman race. It includes swimming 1.9 km in open water, riding 90 km on a bike, and running a half-marathon (21.1 km). I had been sick for a long time before the race, so I was planning not to start, but I had already paid the entrance fee.
These races are multi-day events with a lot of preparation and administration. You must prepare and check in your bike; all your gear needs to be in place to make your transitions easy, eat and hydrate properly, etc. It's a lot of things to keep track of.
When I was weighing back and forth what to do, my mum said, "If you do all the preparations, you will have valuable learnings for next time – you can drop out when you cross the starting line".
I finished the race. Last of all the participants, it took me almost 8 hours, but I did it. (I even had a motorbike escorting me for the final 5K).
This event taught me a couple of things:
Getting started is the hard part. When you've started, the "easy" decision will be to keep going.
Many people won't finish. I became the last participant in the race only when everyone behind me quit.
Most people never try. So even if you finish last, you're still ahead of those who didn't try.
Of course, it was a hard race day. I was sore and tired afterwards, but also pleased with myself. I was surprised to find out what I could do.
These insights go for many things in life.
Taking part in a challenging activity is still a valuable experience even when you finish last. It's about the courage to try, even when success seems unlikely. You learn from the process, face your fears, and discover your limits. Finishing at the bottom might not feel great, but there's a sense of achievement in just participating.
Not participating means avoiding the risk of failure but missing out on the opportunity to learn and grow. It might feel safer, but it can leave you wondering what might have been. You don't face the challenge, so you don't experience the personal growth that comes with it.
The following year, I did the race again — in 30°C heat — and shaved off a couple of hours on my finish time. I had a lot of valuable learnings from the year before.
I'm not racing Ironman's anymore (although writing this text gave me the race bug).
Instead, I'm starting up a business, and it's pretty similar to endurance sports.
2024, my focus is to get in the race. What is yours?
📍Five Small Things
Tool — Do you like ChatGPT? Perplexity.ai is an alternative chat companion where you have a larger variety of use cases and can try different models in the background (for example, Claude 2.1 by Antropic and Gemini Pro from Google). One thing I like about Perplexity is that it provides external sources along the way and asks you questions for follow-up.
Article — How to Thrive in an Uncertain World, Maggie Jackson for The New York Times.
Podcast — How To Discover Your Own Taste with Ezra Klein. On why the Internet isn’t fun anymore.
Video — Small talk is something you can learn. Harvard Business Review has a 10-minute YouTube video on the topic that gave me the confidence to do it well.
Resource — Strategic thinking is hard. Untools is a collection of thinking tools and frameworks to help you solve problems, make decisions and better understand systems.
🗞️ The News Section
EU Foreign Policy Chief Accuses Israel of Funding Hamas
Josep Borrell, the EU's top diplomat and foreign policy chief since 2019, recently sparked controversy by accusing Israel of funding the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Speaking at Spain's University of Valladolid, where he was honoured with an honorary doctorate, Borrell claimed that the Israeli government had financed Hamas in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority. This explosive statement came just before a series of important meetings in Brussels, where EU foreign ministers were set to discuss the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the broader Israel-Palestine peace process.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently denied such allegations. But the claims of Israel's financial support to Hamas, including allowing Qatari cash into Gaza, have been echoed by Israeli opposition, analysts, and international media. Netanyahu, while denying direct funding to Hamas, had controversially remarked in 2019 that supporting Hamas was crucial to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The timing of Borrell's statement was critical. The European Parliament had just passed a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, demanding the dismantling of Hamas and the release of all hostages. Furthermore, the EU was planning to introduce new sanctions against Hamas, explicitly targeting its financial sources.
Borrell's accusation and the subsequent political developments signified a tense moment in EU-Israel relations, occurring against the backdrop of a complex and long-standing conflict in the Middle East.
Global Leaders Discuss Middle East, AI, Economy, and Energy Transition at 54th WEF Meeting in Davos
At last week's 54th annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, world leaders and business executives had gathered to discuss pressing global issues. A key focus was the Middle East, particularly the conflict in Gaza. Despite extensive discussions, no concrete solutions emerged for Palestinian statehood or a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The economic impact of the conflict was highlighted, with Qatar's finance minister noting a regional slowdown and the Palestine Investment Fund estimating a need for £15 billion to rebuild houses in Gaza alone.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, emphasised establishing a Palestinian state for regional peace. Another significant concern was the security in the Red Sea, threatened by attacks from Yemen's Houthi group, affecting global shipping and trade routes.
China's Premier Li Qiang promoted his country's open economy and investment opportunities, although global investors remained cautious due to sluggish post-pandemic recovery and US-China tensions. Artificial Intelligence was a buzzword throughout the forum, with discussions centring on its regulation, application, and potential for monetisation.
Economic discussions were also at the forefront, with Argentina's President Javier Milei discussing debt restructuring with the International Monetary Fund. Global bank leaders expressed concerns over inflation, interest rate mispricing, and geopolitical risks affecting the global economy.
Energy transition was another crucial theme, with several panels focusing on the shift away from fossil fuels. Key energy executives, including those from Shell, TotalEnergies, and Aramco, discussed strategies for decarbonising industries.
Ukraine's situation was kept in the spotlight by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, with Switzerland offering to host peace talks. Finally, the forum marked a significant step in gender representation, with 28% of the participants being women, the highest in the WEF's history.
OpenAI Revises Usage Policy, Easing Restrictions on Military Applications
Artificial Intelligence, Military
Last week, OpenAI revised its usage policy, subtly removing a clause explicitly prohibiting using its technology for military purposes. Previously, the policy, effective until January 10th, categorically banned activities posing a high risk of physical harm, explicitly including "weapons development" and "military and warfare." This change was part of a broader effort to make the policy document more transparent and readable.
Niko Felix, a spokesperson for OpenAI, indicated that the updated policy was intended to establish universal principles that are easily understood and applicable globally. The revised policy still forbids using OpenAI's service to harm oneself or others and cites the development or use of weapons as an example. However, Felix did not confirm whether the new, broader ban on "harm" encompasses all military uses.
The policy change allows OpenAI to explore national security applications, such as developing cybersecurity tools for defense. The new policy prioritises legal compliance over safety, raising concerns about the use of AI in military contexts, given known issues of bias and inaccuracy in large language models.
This policy revision has raised questions about the potential military use of AI technologies like ChatGPT, especially in light of OpenAI's partnership with Microsoft, a large defence contractor. While the exact implications of the policy change are still unclear, it occurs against a backdrop of increasing interest from militaries worldwide in incorporating machine learning techniques.
📈 The Insights Section
Advanced Economies Face Major AI Disruption in 60% of Jobs, Worsening Inequality
According to recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), artificial intelligence is planning to significantly impact the global job market, affecting nearly 40% of all jobs. The IMF has expressed concerns that AI could worsen inequality, particularly as it's likely to have a greater impact in advanced economies, where around 60% of jobs could be affected. In these economies, AI could enhance productivity for about half of the workforce, while potentially reducing demand for labour in the other half, affecting wages and job security.
In contrast, only about 26% of jobs in low-income countries are expected to be impacted by AI. This discrepancy is attributed to these countries' lack of infrastructure and skilled workforces to fully harness AI's benefits, increasing the risk of widening global inequality. A report from Goldman Sachs in 2023 supported this view, estimating that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, although it also suggested the potential for new job creation and increased productivity.
The IMF emphasises the importance of addressing these challenges proactively, suggesting that comprehensive social safety nets and retraining programmes for vulnerable workers are crucial to ensure a more inclusive AI transition. This approach aims to protect livelihoods and curb the growing inequality gap.
The discussion about AI's growing role and its regulation has gained momentum, as evidenced by its prominence at the World Economic Forum in Davos and recent legislative developments. The European Union has reached a provisional deal on comprehensive laws to regulate AI use, China has introduced national regulations, and the United States President Biden has signed an executive order for developers to share AI safety results with the government. Furthermore, a declaration on the safe development of AI technology was signed by multiple countries at the UK-hosted AI Safety Summit.
Decline in Gen Z Voter Turnout Expected for 2024 Presidential Election
Politics, Gen Z
In the lead-up to the 2024 United States presidential election, a significant shift is occurring among young American voters, especially those in Generation Z. A poll conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School has revealed a notable decrease in the intention to vote among this demographic compared to the 2020 election cycle. Specifically, while 57% of 18-29 year-olds were planning to vote in 2020, this figure has dropped to 49% for the upcoming election.
Despite a general preference for President Biden over former President Trump only 35% of Gen Z voters approve of Biden's performance. This disillusionment is prompting some young voters to consider abstaining from voting altogether. The decision not to vote is seen as a form of protest against the Democratic Party, which they believe does not align with their values or effectively address their concerns.
Key reasons for this disenchantment include dissatisfaction with Biden's policies, particularly regarding foreign affairs and economic issues like student loan debt. This trend raises concerns about the potential impact on the election outcome and the broader implications for political engagement among younger generations. The decline in young voter support is acknowledged by the Biden campaign, but it does not currently view it as a significant threat to their electoral prospects. However, the situation underscores the growing challenge political parties face in engaging and retaining the support of the younger electorate.
Over 51,000 Jobs Created by SMEs on TikTok adding €4.8 billion to the GDP Five Major EU Countries
A new report titled The TikTok Effect by Oxford Economics revealed the significant economic impact of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) using TikTok in Europe. The study showed that SMEs on TikTok contributed an additional €4.8 billion to the GDP of five key European countries: Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. This activity also supported over 51,000 jobs across these nations.
The report highlighted the role of TikTok in boosting sales and trade. SMEs using the platform increased sales by €3.5 billion across the five countries and supported trade worth €600 million to GDP, bolstering 7,700 jobs.
Moreover, the report noted a diversity trend among TikTok's SME users. Owners of these businesses are nearly three times more likely to come from diverse backgrounds and are more likely to be under 30.
By country, the economic benefits were significant. Germany saw a €1.5 billion increase in GDP and 18,600 jobs supported; France, €1.4 billion and 12,500 jobs; Italy, €1 billion and 11,300 jobs; the Netherlands, €629 million and 6,000 jobs; and Belgium, €309 million and 2,700 jobs.
Overall, the report by Oxford Economics underscored TikTok's growing importance as a platform that not only fosters entrepreneurial growth and diversity but also contributes substantially to the European economy.
Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something new. ✨
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