Weekend Briefing No. 140

This Week By The Numbers

47% – New research shows that you have no idea when your kids are lying. Parents can only tell if their children are lying 47% of the time.

6 – the number of 2016 US Nobel Prize winners that are immigrants. Incidentally, the 7th, Bob Dylan was born in Duluth Minnesota and all 4 of his grandparents were immigrants.

0 – The number of Ken Bone’s sweater available. Yes, the guy America fell in love with at Monday night’s debate is now setting fashion trends. His IZOD sweater is sold out.

Obama on AI

It’s hard to think of a single technology that will shape our world more in the next 50 years than artificial intelligence. As the Guest Editor of November’s Issue of WIRED, President Obama and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito have a wide-ranging discussion on the future of AI. They note that most people aren’t spending a lot of time right now worrying about singularity—they are worrying about “Well, is my job going to be replaced by a machine?” Obama tends to be on the optimistic side—historically we’ve absorbed new technologies and people find that new jobs are created. He does think that we may be in a slightly different period now, simply because of the pervasive applicability of AI and other technologies. High-skill folks do very well in these systems. Low-wage, low-skill individuals become more and more redundant, and their jobs may not be replaced, but wages are suppressed. Learn more at Wired (15 minutes).

Zuck In Lagos

Mark Zuckerberg (fresh off his meeting with the Pope) made a stealth trip to Nigeria. While he was there he met with the president (to solidify support for Free Basics) and Nollywood stars (trying to figure out why they prefer Instagram to Facebook). But he seemed most excited about meeting with programmers and small digital business owners. “I’d like you to help me,” says the world’s sixth richest man to two women running tiny businesses in one of the world’s poorest countries. “What advice can you give me to make this better for you?” Follow his journey at Backchannel (18 minutes).

Men (Not) At Work

There has been a spike in men age 25 to 54 who want to be employed, but they don’t have jobs and have stopped looking for work. Now, just 89 percent of working-age men are in the workforce, compared to 98 percent in the 1950s, the golden age of the American economy. If nothing changes, this generation of men will earn less, pay less in taxes, consume more in government services, marry less frequently, and lead increasingly unhealthy lives that lead to earlier deaths. What is striking, however, is how little of this enormous free-time dividend is devoted to helping others in their family or their community. Learn more at Vice (15 minutes).

The Paradox of Automation

The paradox of automation is that as things (like cars, airplanes, ships and nuclear reactors) get more automated, the operator’s skill degrades due to lack of practice.  The better the automatic systems, the more out-of-practice human operators will be, and the more extreme the situations they will have to face. Automation will routinely tidy up ordinary messes, but occasionally create an extraordinary mess. Manual control is a highly skilled activity, and skills need to be practiced continuously in order to maintain them. Yet an automatic control system that fails only rarely denies operators the opportunity for practicing these basic control skills … when manual takeover is necessary something has usually gone wrong; this means that operators need to be more rather than less skilled in order to cope with these atypical conditions. Learn more in this brilliant long form piece in The Guardian (18 minutes).

Hive Is The New Network

The value of being connected isn’t in being networked. It’s having an opinion and taking action toward an outcome. The hive is a smarter, evolved network that is bigger than the sum of its parts. The hive: 1) Increases the frequency of interactions. 2) Decreases friction between nodes and creates a higher level of synchronicity between members of the hive. This produces stronger ties between individual members and allows the hive to act collectively. A network’s value is traditionally tied to the idea of more—this is what’s known as a “network effect.” As we’re moving to be defined by the idea of more with less, hives will beat networks. Learn more at Hackernoon (13 minutes).

Mind As A Library

What you spend time reading and learning equally affects how effectively your mind operates. Clickbait is destructive because it lacks meaning and our brains don’t retain much of it. If you think of your mind as a library, three things should concern you. 1) The information you store in thereits accuracy and relevance. 2) Your ability to find/retrieve that information on demand. 3) Finally your ability to put that information to use when you need itthat is, you want to apply it. Learn more about how to build a quality library at Farnam Street (5 minutes).

What Is Love?

There are 5 stages of love, but many people get stuck on the 3rd. 1) Falling in love. A cloud of happiness hormones where you project all of your desires and hopes onto your partner. 2) Becoming a couple. Unity and joy abound. 3) Disillusionment. When your hopes are dashed. 4) Real Love. Your mind is freed from those illusions of a perfect partner. The person standing in front of you is not the one you imagined being with, but a real person. 5) Greater Good. You’re not just going along together through this life for the sake of it, but you live in a partnership for the sake of a bigger cause. Learn more at Brightside (3 minutes).


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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