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Omnivore Digest 5/30/2024

·4910 words·24 mins
  1. 🛠️ Karpathy: Train GPT-2 in 90 minutes for $20 (212 words)
  2. 5 Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day: Americas (204 words)
  3. The Briefing: What CoreWeave’s IPO Plans Say About IPO Market (195 words)
  4. Emotionally Intelligent People Use a Brilliant 4-Word Phrase to Rewire the Brain and Reduce Stress | Inc.com (205 words)
  5. EVERYTHING IS MERCH (228 words)
  6. Anglo Fending Off BHP Is Far From Its Final Battle - Bloomberg (237 words)
  7. 🌎 Biden’s economic warfare (220 words)
  8. 👬 Sam and Zuck (226 words)
  9. 🟡 The kids are not alright (158 words)
  10. 📈 Axios AM: Elon’s power surge (128 words)
  11. 🟡 Mike Johnson on the record (325 words)
  12. 🔮 Trump redux planning (203 words)
  13. You ever think about purpose? (199 words)
  14. The power of an Instagram Story (231 words)
  15. May 29, 2024 (227 words)
  16. 🍋 Dimon Sounds Alarm on Private Credit (214 words)
  17. How 3D Printing Is Impacting Supply Chains (225 words)
  18. 🤖 NVIDIA: Industrial Revolution - by App Economy Insights (279 words)
  19. How Close is Amazon’s Kuiper Service to Commercial Operations? - Bloomberg (243 words)
  20. Time sinks and money sinks - by Andrew Chen - @andrewchen (204 words)
  21. The future of foundation models is closed-source (209 words)
  22. New from Tim — “Brené Brown and Edward O. Thorp” and “Greg McKeown and Diana Chapman” (225 words)
  23. Alibaba, Baidu spark AI price war (241 words)
  24. Decisions Nobody Made - by Marc Rubinstein and Dan Davies (221 words)

🛠️ Karpathy: Train GPT-2 in 90 minutes for $20 (212 words) #

According to AlphaSignal, Andrej Karpathy has released a method for training GPT-2 models efficiently and cost-effectively, allowing a tiny GPT-2 model (124 million parameters) to be trained in 90 minutes at a cost of $20 using an 8xA100 GPU. Training a 350M version takes 14 hours and around $200, while the 1.6B model requires a week and around $2.5k.

Karpathy’s method is part of the llm.c repository, which focuses on training LLMs using minimalistic C and CUDA, bypassing large frameworks like PyTorch or cPython. This approach uses about 1,000 lines of code for CPU training and 3,000 lines for GPU training, achieving almost immediate compilation and operation. The instructions also employ the FineWeb dataset, which is deemed more efficient than the original WebText.

Key innovations include a high model flops utilization rate, reaching around 178K tokens per second on an 8xA100 GPU. Karpathy also highlights plans to explore the RedPajama dataset and improve llm.c functionalities, with potential transitions to H100 GPUs. Future improvements may also include multi-node training support.

5 Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day: Americas (204 words) #

According to Bloomberg, US stocks are under pressure amid lower expectations for interest-rate cuts. Sam Unsted attributes this to the continued high Treasury yields and restrictive monetary policies. Raphael Bostic from the Fed underscores the persistence of inflation, arguing that before rate cuts, a significant decrease in inflationary pressures is needed.

Salesforce experienced a substantial decline following a weak sales forecast, a trend that also affected European software stocks. In contrast, HP reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue with a notable rise in PC sales, marking the first upswing in two years.

Barclays notes a potential recovery in the IPO market, suggesting that increased clarity about sustained interest rates may encourage companies to pursue listing plans, particularly in the US and Europe.

Upcoming economic events in the US include a second reading of Q1 GDP and pending home sales. Tomorrow’s PCE deflator gauge, a preferred inflation metric for the Fed, will be crucial.

Additionally, Joe Weisenthal discusses the implications of market mechanisms on the decarbonization efforts, emphasizing the need for public ownership over utilities to achieve substantial progress in clean energy initiatives.

The Briefing: What CoreWeave’s IPO Plans Say About IPO Market (195 words) #

Cory Weinberg examines the motivations behind CoreWeave’s IPO plans and their implications for the IPO market. According to Weinberg, companies burdened with debt, such as CoreWeave, StubHub, and Tempus AI, find it advantageous to go public due to easier debt management and broader access to capital. CoreWeave, a rising cloud provider, aims to clear its debts by going public, backed by billion-dollar creditors like Blackstone and BlackRock. Similarly, StubHub, propelled by the live events surge, and healthcare data company Tempus AI, preparing for an IPO with substantial debts, underscore this trend. Weinberg emphasizes that the driest tech IPO market in three years may experience a shift, driven by debt obligations and employee stock grants facing expiration. Using recent IPOs like Rubrik and Reddit as case studies, Weinberg explains that startups with no debt, such as Stripe, delay public offerings to avoid valuation drops due to missed quarterly projections. However, debt-laden firms, especially those backed by private equity, are expected to spearhead IPO activities to stabilize financially.

Emotionally Intelligent People Use a Brilliant 4-Word Phrase to Rewire the Brain and Reduce Stress | Inc.com (205 words) #

Nick Hobson argues that the phrase “put things into perspective” can be more than a vague self-help mantra; it can serve as an actionable coping tactic to reduce anxiety when understood through the lens of neuroscience. According to Hobson, the brain, particularly the medial frontal gyrus (MFG), processes stress egocentrically, making negative events seem personally significant. This egocentric stress can lead to rumination and emotional dysregulation.

Hobson uses data from neuroscience to illustrate how brain regions interconnected with the MFG contribute to this process. By altering perspective on time—a concept known as chronosthesia—we can mitigate anxiety. Hobson explains that distant mental time travel, involving either future or past reflections, fosters objectivity and reduces emotional bias. Exercises like envisioning oneself a year from now can help rewire the MFG, making current stress feel less immediate and emotionally charged. In essence, Hobson asserts that effectively “putting things into perspective” involves actively engaging in temporal distancing to reframe stress and anxiety from a more detached viewpoint. This, he argues, is how emotionally intelligent individuals manage to alleviate stress.

EVERYTHING IS MERCH (228 words) #

According to The Sociology of Business and Eugene Rabkin in the article “EVERYTHING IS MERCH,” the concept of merchandise (merch) has evolved from its origins as memorabilia for fans to an omnipresent retail strategy. Initially, merch’s cultural value stemmed from its scarcity and the social capital it conveyed, indicating a true allegiance to a cultural artifact, such as a band t-shirt bought at a concert.

Rabkin argues that merch has transformed from a youth culture artifact into a dominant retail category, driven by high margins and commodification through chain stores like Hot Topic and the rise of e-commerce. This shift has diminished the unique cultural significance of merch but has not eradicated its role in social signaling. Today, wearing a branded item, whether it’s a luxury Balenciaga tee or an A24 logo shirt, still conveys certain meanings, albeit different from the original intent.

To illustrate the evolution and diverse forms of merch, Rabkin provides examples of toys, puns, simulations, fantasies, winks, kitsch, and camp within the realm of fashion and beyond. He underscores how merch, through careful branding and marketing, continues to serve as a powerful cultural and social symbol in contemporary consumer culture.

Anglo Fending Off BHP Is Far From Its Final Battle - Bloomberg (237 words) #

In his article “Anglo Fending Off BHP Is Far From Its Final Battle,” Chris Hughes argues that BHP Group Ltd.’s CEO, Mike Henry, bears responsibility for the failed attempt to acquire Anglo American Plc, highlighting the unconventional and complex nature of the proposed £38.6 billion transaction. According to Hughes, BHP’s bid focused on acquiring Anglo’s valuable copper assets while excluding its stakes in platinum and iron ore miners, which complicated the deal and limited BHP’s strategies.

Hughes points out that BHP’s fragmented two-part bid hindered a hostile takeover and subjected the deal to criticism for its complexity and potential valuation volatility. Despite multiple offers, Anglo only entered discussions after BHP proposed an “appropriate” breakup fee, revealing BHP’s diminishing leverage due to regulatory constraints and its insistence on “final” share-swap terms.

Hughes uses data to demonstrate that BHP’s share price increased post-failure, suggesting confidence in its disciplined approach to mergers. He concludes that Anglo shareholders might fare better under Anglo’s own restructuring plans, though future attempts by other miners or activists like Elliott Management Corp. might still surface. Ultimately, Anglo CEO Duncan Wanblad’s new strategy remains under scrutiny and its completion is uncertain.

🌎 Biden’s economic warfare (220 words) #

According to Neil Irwin and Courtenay Brown of Axios Macro, the Biden administration is actively demonstrating its use of economic tools to meet foreign policy goals, with Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh articulating this strategy in detail during a Brookings Institution panel. Singh emphasizes that global conflicts are now more likely to be economically or technologically driven rather than militarily. He argues that a doctrine governing the use of economic tools, such as sanctions, is just beginning to be developed to ensure they are applied thoughtfully and predictably.

Singh also calls for a “code of conduct” for economic statecraft, emphasizing the importance of tools that provide mutual benefits, such as debt relief and trade agreements, as opposed to solely punitive measures. He uses his prior experience leading the New York Fed’s markets group to highlight the need for these measures to avoid global spillover effects.

Additionally, the article notes that Singh and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen aim to use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine’s financial needs, signaling enduring U.S. commitment against Russian aggression. This strategy is presented amidst a fragile geopolitical climate and declining support for Biden in national polls according to prediction markets.

👬 Sam and Zuck (226 words) #

In her article, “Sam and Zuck,” Ina Fried argues that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is mimicking the strategy used by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, characterized by the “move fast and break things” mentality. Fried observes that Altman’s method of handling PR issues—like the controversies over Scarlett Johansson’s voice use and equity clawback provisions—mirrors Zuckerberg’s approach, which involved public apologies followed by rapid forward movement onto the next project.

According to Fried, OpenAI announced a new safety committee while concurrently starting the training of their next language model, GPT-5, which aligns with Zuckerberg’s tactic of appeasing controversy with bureaucratic fixes while not halting innovation. Through these examples, she underscores the Silicon Valley trend of operating with a “ask forgiveness, not permission” ethos, rewarding speed and innovation despite potential risks.

Fried backs her assertions with specific incidents and cites expert opinions, such as Subramaniam Vincent’s analysis, to demonstrate the broader implications of rapid technological advancements without comprehensive oversight. She also contrasts Altman’s more open communication style with lawmakers to Zuckerberg’s, suggesting a potential evolution in handling such high-stakes leadership roles responsibly in tech.

🟡 The kids are not alright (158 words) #

Semafor Principals’ article “The kids are not alright” investigates the disillusionment among young American voters towards politics, citing a recent poll by the Democratic firm Blueprint. Shelby Talcott highlights that 64% of 18-30-year-olds feel “America is in decline,” 65% believe “nearly all” politicians are corrupt, and 51% were happier pre-pandemic. Lead pollster Evan Roth Smith stresses the extent of this pessimism, noting that young voters perceive politics as dominated by corrupt leaders and a deteriorating nation. Smith suggests this could explain President Biden’s difficulty in garnering support from young Americans.

Talcott’s article underscores the critical sentiment among young voters, implying substantial implications for current political strategies and future elections. This data serves as evidence of growing disenchantment and highlights a potentially significant electoral challenge for maintaining youth engagement and support.

📈 Axios AM: Elon’s power surge (128 words) #

Mike Allen highlights Elon Musk’s rising political influence, attributed to his control of a significant social media platform, vast personal wealth, and growing ties with former President Trump. Allen emphasizes that Musk’s potential role as an advisor to Trump could make him a pivotal force in American politics. According to Allen, Musk’s open criticism of President Biden’s policies, paired with frequent social media posts, underscores his political sway. The author also notes that instead of direct financial contributions, Musk and his allies aim to influence policy through high-profile gatherings. Allen references The Wall Street Journal and New York Times to substantiate Musk’s strategizing and media impact.

🟡 Mike Johnson on the record (325 words) #

Semafor Principals discuss key political and legal developments:

  • Mike Johnson’s Legislative Plans: According to Semafor Principals, Rep. Mike Johnson is preparing Republicans for significant legislative action if they gain control of the government in November. In an interview with Kadia Goba, Johnson revealed his discussions with Donald Trump about a comprehensive reconciliation bill aimed at solidifying Trump’s legacy, which would encompass taxes, border security, and energy.
  • Alito’s Non-Recusal: Justice Samuel Alito stated he would not recuse himself from Trump-related criminal cases despite “Stop the Steal” flags at his home. Alito attributed the display to his spouse, prompting Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin to call for a credible code of conduct for Supreme Court justices.
  • Senate Democrats vs. Oil Industry: Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, urged the DOJ to investigate potential collusion and price-fixing in the oil industry. They point to FTC allegations and push for antitrust scrutiny to address high fuel prices impacting Americans.
  • Trump Trial Deliberations: Jury deliberations in Trump’s Manhattan hush-money trial ended without a verdict. Jurors requested to review testimonies from David Pecker and Michael Cohen, while Trump continued to criticize the case publicly.
  • US-Ukraine Policy Shift: Top Biden administration officials, including Antony Blinken and John Kirby, suggested a potential policy shift that may allow Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia using US-provided weapons, amidst evolving support strategies.
  • US-China Military Communication: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to discuss a new military communication channel with China’s defense minister, reflecting efforts to prevent conflicts, particularly around Taiwan.

These points illustrate ongoing efforts to navigate complex political and international issues, using interviews, official statements, and policy signals to paint a comprehensive picture of current affairs.

🔮 Trump redux planning (203 words) #

According to Tina Reed and Maya Goldman in the Axios Vitals, health lobbyists and conservative groups are strategizing about potential GOP agenda changes should Trump win a second term. Victoria Knight and Peter Sullivan highlight intensified preparations among GOP lobbyists due to heightened client requests. The focus is largely on extending the 2017 Trump tax cuts through reconciliation, also serving as a vehicle for partisan health policies. GOP insiders are skeptical of major Affordable Care Act overhauls but do foresee changes, such as potential expiration of enhanced ACA subsidies in 2025. Data points to bipartisan support for policies like cracking down on Medicare Advantage overpayments to insurers and site-neutral payments.

Additionally, insurance companies are facing challenges due to Medicaid eligibility redeterminations. UnitedHealth CEO Andrew Witty noted potential “disturbances” to Medicaid managed care plans, impacting insurer stocks. Real-time data from a KFF tracker shows over 22 million people have been disenrolled from Medicaid since redeterminations began.

Lastly, a study published in JAMA reveals that ransomware attacks on hospitals lead to increased emergency department visits at neighboring facilities, underscoring the broader impact of such attacks on patient volumes.

You ever think about purpose? (199 words) #

Jane Doe, in her article “You ever think about purpose?” for The Daily Skimm, explores various poignant topics. She notes significant legislative changes in Tennessee, such as new laws restricting abortion and gender-affirming care for minors. According to Doe, these laws penalize adults assisting minors in accessing these services and may face legal challenges.

Doe also highlights a study involving over 71,000 participants, revealing that girls now experience their first menstruation at younger ages. She attributes this trend to factors like obesity and “forever chemicals.” Doe emphasizes the health risks of earlier periods, like diabetes and heart disease, supported by data from Harvard, Apple, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Additionally, Doe mentions the National Zoo’s announcement of the return of giant pandas Bao Li and Qing Bao, signifying a positive shift in US-China relations. She uses historical data and diplomatic context to underline the importance of this development.

Throughout the article, Doe implements data and expert insights effectively to substantiate her commentary on these multifaceted issues.

The power of an Instagram Story (231 words) #

According to the author of the article, writing under the pseudonym Garbage Day, the “All Eyes On Rafah” Instagram image has gone viral, being shared approximately 40 million times within a day as reported by NBC News. This image, created through AI, stands out since it has been circulated by celebrities and is one of the most viral AI-generated contents. It has stirred considerable debate with critics labeling it “disingenuous” and “privileged.” UK podcaster Hussein Kesvani notably questioned why this AI-generated post has garnered more attention than actual images of conflicts.

Garbage Day indicates that the image’s virality can be partially attributed to Instagram’s platform dynamics, where censorship and graphic content warnings heavily restrict posts. This particular image, through Instagram Stories, circumvented both in a way that avoided content flags. User shahv4012, a Malaysian photographer, created and spread this image effectively without warnings by embedding it into a running Story that mixed AI images, tweets, memes, and summaries, thereby evading censorship mechanisms on Instagram.

The author compares this new form of AI-generated activism to earlier forms of digital activism, emphasizing that while it is criticized, it represents an evolving method of engaging users with political content.

May 29, 2024 (227 words) #

Heather Cox Richardson reports on the campaign activities of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, emphasizing their efforts to highlight the administration’s achievements for the Black community. Richardson quotes Biden acknowledging the pivotal role of Black voters in his election victory, and relays Harris’s comments on healthcare disparities and the administration’s measures, such as capping insulin costs and addressing student loan debt. Harris and Biden also contrasted their policies with those of former President Donald Trump, emphasizing their focus on racial equality and economic opportunities.

Richardson details Biden’s data-driven claims, including record lows in Black unemployment and Black small business start-ups, and a notable reduction in the wealth gap. She contrasts this with Trump’s legal battles, noting his presence in court over allegations of falsifying business records.

The article transitions to discuss broader legal and political conflicts, highlighting criticisms and misrepresentations by Trump and his supporters towards the judiciary, and drawing connections to the larger theme of accountability in American politics. Richardson ties in recent controversies surrounding Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and the harassment faced by individuals critical of Trump.

Overall, Richardson provides a comprehensive narrative tying together political campaigning, legal proceedings, and accountability.

🍋 Dimon Sounds Alarm on Private Credit (214 words) #

According to Short Squeez, Jamie Dimon is raising alarms about the potential instability of the private credit industry. Dimon, in a recent conference, cautioned that if the private credit sector—which has grown to nearly $2 trillion from $875 billion in 2020—starts to falter, severe repercussions could follow (“there could be hell to pay”). This rapid expansion in the private credit market has outpaced S&P 500 returns, but it is fraught with uncertainties regarding the sector’s risks.

Dimon pointed out that many private credit deals have dubious ratings, reminiscent of the pre-2008 mortgage market. Despite acknowledging the brilliance and necessity of private credit players for companies neglected by large banks, he also noted that the industry isn’t uniformly reliable, often plagued by less reputable participants. J.P. Morgan is preparing by setting aside $10 billion for direct lending and considering acquiring private credit firms, underlining the urgency and importance of closely monitoring this burgeoning sector. Dimon emphasizes that while some actors are beneficial, others could potentially bring down the sector, evoking memories of the financial crisis of 2008.

How 3D Printing Is Impacting Supply Chains (225 words) #

In the article “How 3D Printing Is Impacting Supply Chains,” HackerNoon discusses the transformative impact of 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, on supply chains. According to the author, the technology has advanced beyond hobbyists’ use and is increasingly being adopted by industries, significantly altering logistics and production processes.

HackerNoon argues that 3D printing enables companies to produce parts and products on demand, thus reducing the need for large inventories and streamlining supply chains. This adaptability is particularly valuable in industries requiring custom or limited-run items. The author highlights that localizing production through 3D printing decreases shipping costs and delivery times, further enhancing supply chain efficiency.

To support these claims, HackerNoon presents data illustrating the growth of the 3D printing market and cites examples of companies that have successfully integrated 3D printing into their supply chains. The author also discusses how the technology can mitigate disruptions caused by global events, such as pandemics or geopolitical tensions, by enabling decentralized production.

Through these points, HackerNoon concludes that as 3D printing technology continues to evolve, its impact on supply chains will become more profound, leading to more responsive, resilient, and cost-effective logistics solutions.

🤖 NVIDIA: Industrial Revolution - by App Economy Insights (279 words) #

According to Substack, NVIDIA experienced a significant 10% surge following its Q1 FY25 results, catapulting its market cap to $2.6 trillion, making it larger than Amazon and Tesla combined. Jensen Huang, NVIDIA’s CEO, asserted that the company is at the forefront of the next industrial revolution, transforming traditional data centers into “AI factories.” He emphasized that NVIDIA’s GPUs are pivotal in AI training and inference, with the latter now contributing 40% to NVIDIA’s Data Center revenue.

Substack details that NVIDIA’s revenue grew 18% quarter-over-quarter to $26 billion, driven primarily by a 23% increase in Data Center revenue. The segment now constitutes 87% of overall revenue. Despite a sequential drop in gaming and professional visualization revenues, the company’s gross margin improved to 78%.

CFO Colette Kress highlighted NVIDIA’s strategic focus on cloud service providers, enterprise applications, and consumer internet companies, noting Tesla’s use of NVIDIA GPUs for its AI cluster and Meta’s reliance on NVIDIA for training its AI models. Kress also addressed sovereignty in AI development and the implications of US export restrictions on NVIDIA’s product lineup.

Furthermore, Substack underscores ongoing developments, such as NVIDIA’s leadership in AI infrastructure and the anticipated demand for its new H200 and Blackwell platforms. Despite potential cyclicality risks, Substack concludes that NVIDIA’s financial robustness and forward-looking innovations position it strongly in the market.

How Close is Amazon’s Kuiper Service to Commercial Operations? - Bloomberg (243 words) #

In his article “How Close is Amazon’s Kuiper Service to Commercial Operations?” on Bloomberg, Matt Day delves into Amazon’s ambitious plans for its Project Kuiper, aimed at competing with SpaceX’s Starlink in the satellite internet market. Day explains that Amazon has already decommissioned its initial prototype satellites and is in the process of manufacturing new satellites, with the goal of deploying thousands for global internet coverage.

According to Day, Amazon is investing over $10 billion in this endeavor, hoping to leverage its extensive customer base and existing infrastructure from Amazon Web Services. He underscores that while SpaceX has about 6,000 satellites in orbit, Amazon’s Project Kuiper is still in the early stages, transitioning from R&D to full-scale manufacturing. To meet the Federal Communications Commission’s requirement of having 1,618 satellites in orbit by July 2026, Amazon’s facilities are ramping up production, aiming to produce about five satellites daily.

Day also notes the logistical and technical preparations at Amazon’s new manufacturing facility in Kirkland, Washington, including assembly lines, testing chambers, and storage spaces. Despite these advancements, an Amazon spokesperson has refrained from specifying launch timelines, only indicating that testing will commence later in 2024 with commercial operations expected in 2025.

Time sinks and money sinks - by Andrew Chen - @andrewchen (204 words) #

According to Andrew Chen, the New York Times (NYT) is transitioning towards becoming primarily a games company, as evidenced by an accelerating trend in recent years where more users are engaging with NYT Games than the news. Chen argues this shift parallels strategies employed by Netflix and Amazon. He categorizes internet products into “time sinks” and “money sinks,” noting that time sinks focus on high engagement and retention, while money sinks aim at profitable transactions with lower user retention. Chen emphasizes the importance of selecting metrics relevant to the product type, warning against generic benchmarks like DAUs, which might mislead strategy.

Chen illustrates how business models shape product experience, using different gaming eras as examples. He parallels this with the evolution of journalism, noting shifts from sensationalist penny presses to stable, monopolistic periods, and now to clickbait-driven digital media due to competitive pressures.

Chen foresees media companies converging towards subscription bundles that include games for higher monetization. He supports his claims with historical trends and demographic shifts, predicting that more traditional media outlets will adopt gaming to stay relevant.

The future of foundation models is closed-source (209 words) #

According to the author, the future of foundational AI models is predominantly closed-source. The author delineates two competing narratives: one predicts centralization around scaled, closed-source AI players, while the other envisages a decentralized open-source proliferation. Despite current advancements in open-source models like Llama-3, the author contends that open-source AI is financially unsustainable for model builders, poses risks to national security, and will eventually become an inferior option for developers and consumers.

The article underscores the exponential costs (data and capital expenditure) associated with developing frontier models, predicting that companies like Meta will eventually restrict open-source releases as soon as they’re no longer beneficial. Additionally, closed-source models offer better capabilities, consistent improvements, and are more aligned with customer demands.

National security concerns are paramount, with the author arguing that exporting AI advancements to potential adversaries could be detrimental. This view echoes America’s tech supremacy pursuit, suggesting closed-source models will lead future innovation, much like secure semiconductor advances have.

Conclusion: Despite open-source’s current charm and contributions, the economically and technically viable future for AI lies in closed-source development.

New from Tim — “Brené Brown and Edward O. Thorp” and “Greg McKeown and Diana Chapman” (225 words) #

Tim Ferriss provides a weekly roundup featuring two new podcast episodes in celebration of the show’s 10-year anniversary and over one billion downloads. According to Ferriss, the episodes highlight some of his favorite segments from more than 700 episodes.

Ferriss notes the first episode features Brené Brown and Edward O. Thorp, with segments from episode #409 and #596. Brown and Thorp discuss themes like self-acceptance, marriage, stock market strategies, and spotting early financial frauds. Ferriss supports the inclusion of these segments by referencing their popularity and relevance over time.

The second episode showcases Greg McKeown and Diana Chapman, including parts from episode #355 and #536. McKeown discusses essentialism and prioritizing important tasks, while Chapman focuses on personal responsibility and reducing life drama. Ferriss’ choice of these guests highlights their impactful advice on productivity and mental well-being.

Ferriss uses data on listener downloads and anniversary milestones to validate the significance of these curated segments. Both episodes feature sponsorships from AG1, LMNT, LinkedIn Ads, Momentous, and others, aligning with Ferriss’ emphasis on health, marketing, and financial tools.

Overall, Ferriss blends personal curation with data-backed choices to celebrate a decade of podcasting success.

Alibaba, Baidu spark AI price war (241 words) #

In the article “Alibaba, Baidu Spark AI Price War,” Zheping Huang from Bloomberg Technology highlights the fierce competition among Chinese tech giants in the AI market, reminiscent of past aggressive subsidy strategies for user acquisition.

According to Huang, Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu recently slashed prices on their AI cloud services, resembling a Black Friday event for AI startups. He likens this price war to earlier subsidy frenzies in China’s tech scene that led to the rise of major gig-economy firms like Meituan and Didi Global. Huang explains this approach is driven by a commitment to dominate the AI sector by drawing numerous developers through heavy discounts and financial incentives.

Huang supports his claims by detailing how these companies offer significant investments and cloud subsidies, spurring startups to pass savings to users, akin to Alibaba-backed Zhipu offering prizes for innovative AI applications.

However, Huang conveys cautionary perspectives, notably from Paul Romer, warning of potential overestimations of AI’s revolutionary impact, drawing parallels to the recent crypto bubble. Robin Li from Baidu also critiques the imbalance between AI tools and practical applications. Huang concludes that although the current investment surge can’t last indefinitely, China’s tech leaders are aggressively cultivating the AI space with short-term price cuts possibly leading to long-term market volatility.

Decisions Nobody Made - by Marc Rubinstein and Dan Davies (221 words) #

Marc Rubinstein introduces Dan Davies, highlighting his 2018 book on fraud, Lying for Money, and his new book, The Unaccountability Machine. According to Davies, large organizations often make poor decisions, a concept explored through “management cybernetics”—a blend of mathematics, philosophy, accountancy, physics, and economics. Davies argues that these organizations suffer from creating “accountability sinks,” where decision-makers are insulated from feedback, leading to systemic problems.

Davies uses the example of overbooked flights to illustrate how large systems deflect accountability. He suggests that the growth in complexity has overwhelmed individual managers, prompting a reliance on algorithms and systems for decision-making. This delegation provides a psychological shield from the consequences of decisions.

Offering a comparative analysis, he notes the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was harder on the global economy than the COVID-19 pandemic due to its impact on the decision-making “brain” of the world economy. Davies contends that debt serves as both an information-processing and control technology. Mismanagement and excessive leverage, particularly spurred by the private equity industry, have led to short-termist corporate behavior and bad decisions. He calls for a reorganization to address these systemic issues.