Cheeseburgers, AI and Habits – Weekly Roundup

Published on Author Zach WareLeave a comment

I’ve had an intense week thanks to a scheduling snaffoo that essentially booked a meeting every hour, on the hour, several days this week. So my writing has been sporadic as has my reading. But where I’ve found the time I’ve devoted it to deeper topics. Here are some of my highlights of the week.

Books

I finished reading The Power of Habit. I can’t recommend this book more. Since I listen to audiobooks now more than I read with my eyes, I don’t have the same voluminous highlights as I did when reading Kindle books. So when I finish I sit down and write a few notes that I want to remember from the book. Here are my notes from The Power of Habit.

This week I’m reading Fooled by Randomness. I can’t stop thinking about a character called Nero, a stock trader who chose a less glamorous (and less profitable) path in his career. And is generally happy with it. So far this book is a winner. Check out this passage:

Why isn’t Nero more affluent? Because of his trading style–or perhaps his personality. His risk aversion is extreme. Nero’s objective is not to maximize his profits, so much as it is to avoid having this entertaining machine called trading taken away from him. Blowing up would mean returning to the tedium of the university or the nontrading life. Every time his risks increase, he conjures up the image of the quiet hallway at the university, the long mornings at his desk spent in revising a paper, kept awake by bad coffee. No, he does not want to have to face the solemn university library where he was bored to tears. “I am shooting for longevity,” he is wont to say.

Thoughtful Reads

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If you’re alive in 30 years, chances are good you may also be alive in 1000 years

This is a fascinating piece about the application of principles similar to Moore’s Law about the improvement of technologies over time. The idea is that if we are alive in 30 years then technology will likely have advanced to give us an additional, say, 15 years of life. Then within that 15 years, technology will have advanced to give us an additional 30. The advancements repeat. It seems a little too nerdy at first, but it’s not. Rating: Should read.

America Is Too Dumb for TV News – Rolling Stone

Rating: Drop what you are doing and read this. This piece isn’t as much an opinion piece about Donald Trump as it is an assessment of how Americans consume information and react to stimulation.

It’s our fault. We in the media have spent decades turning the news into a consumer business that’s basically indistinguishable from selling cheeseburgers or video games. You want bigger margins, you just cram the product full of more fat and sugar and violence and wait for your obese, over-stimulated customer to come waddling forth.

I’ve read this piece at least a dozen times. I’ll be writing a post in a few days about how I stopped consuming general news and what it’s done to my brain and world view (and concerns about becoming completely uninformed).

Tim Urban is a phenomenal writer. The takes super complex things and distills them down to points we can understand. If you’ve heard about artificial intelligence and don’t know what it all means, read this. If you’re a super genius theoretical physicist rocket scientist, read this. Mom, read this. Rating: Read it now, then read it again, then send it to your friends.

The character would be in a time before personal computers, internet, or cell phones—today’s Marty McFly, a teenager born in the late 90s, would be much more out of place in 1985 than the movie’s Marty McFly was in 1955.

Stuff I wrote

My most popular post this week was We vs. You about investors co-opting the word “We” when describing awesome things their portfolio companies accomplish. I also updated my What I’m Doing Now page for March.

 

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This post originally appeared at Zach Ware's Notebook.

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