Weekend Briefing No. 180

Welcome to the Weekend! Hello from San Francisco. I’m around next week and hosting a happy hour on Tuesday of next week. If you’re in town, I’d love to meet you and grab a drink. Click here if you’re interested and I’ll follow up with details. Cheers!

Prime Numbers

29,700 – More than 29,700 female students took an AP computer science exam in 2017 , a 135% increase from 2016 and a dramatic increase from the 2,600 female students that took the AP Computer Science exam 10 years ago.

102 – 102 people, including 21 government officials, were sentenced to jail in Thailand’s largest ever human trafficking trial following the discovery, two years ago, of mass graves in a squalid jungle camp where hundreds of migrants had been brutally exploited.

32 – While more men use seed crowdfunding than women, women are 32% more successful in reaching their finance goals. While men typically seek higher funding targets, female-led projects achieve a greater average pledge amount than male-led projects: $87 to women and $83 to men.

Care Bots

Qing Zhang was born in central China in a village that didn’t have electricity. Now at 88, she lives in a nursing home that’s using robots and AI to care for her. The nursing home has 2 types of robots. One is functional – collecting health data and communicating – but the other is a pink and white child-sized bot whose sole purpose is companionship, a care bot. This nursing home is an early test of China’s plan to build a $4.3B service robot market. As fewer Chinese are able to care for their elderly parents, China is banking on robots to befriend their 230MM elderly. Learn more and see videos of the robot in action at Quartz (13 minutes).

20,000,000 Mosquitoes

Verily — formerly Google Life Sciences —has been breeding bacteria-infected mosquitoes in San Francisco. This week they began releasing bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in Fresno, California. The release marks the launch of Debug Fresno, a field study that aims to rid the central California county of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Also known as yellow fever mosquitoes, they first arrived in the area in 2013 and are known to spread the Zika virus, dengue, and chikungunya. Verily is working with Fresno’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District to release 1 million male mosquitoes every week for 20 weeks, starting now. These mosquitoes have been rendered essentially sterile by infection with a bacteria called Wolbachia pipientis, which naturally colonizes mosquitoes and other insects in the wild. In time, if the local females continue to mate with the sterile males, the population should drop. Learn more at The Verge (7 minutes).

Amazon, Whole Foods & Workers

Amazon’s plans for Whole Foods are the subject of plenty of speculation. But one thing is certain: The Mackey marketing playbook — bringing labor to the fore in order to assure customers that they are A-O.K. and in good hands — has little to offer Amazon, which can and does regard labor as a simple commodity. In contrast to Whole Foods, which focuses in its marketing on fair-trade and locally sourced offerings, Amazon is made up of a dizzying array of supply chains that are effectively invisible: not hidden, just easily omitted from the consumer experience. Learn more in the New York Times Magazine (6 minutes).

The Clock Is Ticking

“I need your help,” new UN Secretary General António Guterres told the business crowd. Guterres has acknowledged that the rate of progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is far slower than is needed to meet the targets. He said, Investors and businesses must step up in four critical areas: (1) AI and the future of jobs. Cheap labor will no longer be a competitive advantage for emerging economies. What’s the back up plan? (2) Sustainability and climate. Green is the future of business and technology. (3) Human mobility. Migrations are part of the solution to sustainable economic growth, he says. Business solutions and support have been promising. (4) Peace and good governance. Business prospers with peace and good governance. Corruption is a drain on growth. Learn more at Impact Alpha (3 minutes).

AI Fight Club

Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used to control everything, whether it’s driving cars or making financial trades. But some people are worried that such algorithms could be hijacked by criminals who spoof them with fake data. Now a new contest, being organized by data science platform Kaggle, will have teams of AI researchers battle each other’s algorithms in a bid to harden their systems against future attacks. The contest will have three components. One challenge will involve simply trying to confuse a machine-learning system so that it doesn’t work properly. Another will involve trying to force a system to classify something incorrectly. And a third will involve developing the most robust defenses. The results will be presented at a major AI conference later this year. Learn more about the rules of AI Fight Club at MIT Technology Review (4 minutes).

5 / 25 / 150

How do you master the art of creating a strong network? Build a spreadsheet in Google Drive. It has three groups of people, organized based on the goals that are important to them and their business at that time. Each person is on a row, with their contact details and a notes field about their last conversation. (5) The 5 people they think are most critical in accomplishing those goals, they contact multiple times per week. (25) The next 25 people, they contact once per week. (150) The next 150 they contact once per month. The key thing to remember here is that the best networkers in the world are givers not takers. What the system does is force you to be a giver, and to do so in an extremely consistent way. If you try it. Let me know how it goes. Learn more at Hackernoon (4 minutes).

The Value of Doing

This Excerpt is from The Woodcraft Manual for Boys, published in 1923. “For learning to do gives more power to do, and when you let someone else do a thing for you, you eventually lose the power to do that thing. Through the ability to do have people prospered and nations become great… Oh, Woodcraft Boy, would you really live? Then begin, not by dreaming of some new field to enter or new worlds to conquer, but by knowing and using all the things about you. Know the pleasure of workmanship, the joy that comes from things made well by your own hands, the happiness which comes from closer touch with the fundamental things of life and the consciousness of being of value to the world.” Read more at The Art of Manliness (5 minutes).

From The Community

Antonio Delgado and his wife Lacey are members of the Weekend Briefing community and he’s running for Congress in 2018 in upstate NY. Check out his story on a podcast called Spotlight on 19 (start at 9 minutes).

Jay Siegel runs his own podcast called SustainabilityDefined which defines sustainability one concept (and one bad joke) at a time. The most recent episode discusses agroecology.

Mark Newberg wrote a piece for Forbes about Avoiding The ‘Squirrel Trap’ And Other Hidden Entrepreneurial Lessons From Hollywood.

Leslie Jensen-Inman wrote a post on her journey to design a better student loan.

About the Weekend Briefing

The best articles on innovation, impact, and growth distilled into one email every Saturday morning by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

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