AI Playbook by A16z is probably one of the best introductory guides to machine learning and artificial intelligence I’ve seen so far.
In case you’ve missed the new (well, 1.5 months old) 2017 KPCB Internet Trends report, here it is. As always, it’s a fascinating 355-slide deck of charts and graphs that cover everything from advertising to macroeconomics.
Here are some less than obvious insights I noted. What did you find interesting?
- Ads vary significantly in how much they annoy customers: mobile pop-ups are the worst
- Social Media
- Unexpected popularity of weird YouTube channels, e.g. people who record themselves unboxing stuff
- Delivery / On-Demand Economy
- Trending up across the board: from Amazon to Doordash
- Amazon eating the world with Amazon Basics brand
- Gaming and VR
- Gamer’s average age: 35
- More weird entertainment: the # of people watching other people play games keeps growing
- Games have higher engagement in minutes/day than Facebook (per active user)
- VR and gamification of the real world: Stanford Football, Peloton and all kinds of mobile apps
- Virtual world simulations: Improbable
- eSports growth
- Continued growth of the subscription model and personalization: Spotify and Netflix dominate
- Enterprise Software
- Interfaces become more humane as reflected in growing designer/developer ratios
- On-demand bike sharing
- AliPay + WeChat
- Macro Trends
- US Deficit
- 60% of most valued companies started by 1st or 2nd generation immigrants
- 50% of most valued companies started by 1st generation immigrants
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is yet another mind-expanding book:
“About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.
About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce into complex structures, called atoms, which then combined into molecules. The story of atoms, molecules and their interactions is called chemistry.
About 3.8. billion years ago, on a planet called Earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. The story of organisms is called biology.
About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the species Homo sapiens started to form even more elaborate structures called cultures. The subsequent development of these human cultures is called history.
Three important revolutions shaped the course of history: the Cognitive Revolution kick-started history about 70,000 years ago. The Agricultural Revolution sped it up about 12,000 years ago. The Scientific Revolution, which got under way only 500 years ago, may well end history and start something completely different. This book tells the story of how these three revolutions have affected humans and their fellow organisms.”
For the ultimate startup experience: talk yourself into carrying someone’s bags as they give a pitch to a VC. Be a fly on the wall and soak it in.
If you’re trying to get a real feel of the culture: apply and interview for jobs in three Silicon Valley companies even if you don’t want any of them. The interview will teach your more about Silicon Valley company culture and the valley than any tour.
Meet some locals in tech: attend at least three tech-oriented Meetups or Plancast events in the Valley or San Francisco (Meetup is a deep list. Search for “startup” meetup’s in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Santa Clara.)
Go to the best events: Check out the meetups from iOS Developers and Hackers and Founders and 106Miles and Ideakick and Startup Grind. Catch a monthly hackathon. Subscribe to StartupDigest Silicon Valley edition before you visit.
Cowork with a startup: Find a real 3–10 person startup, working from a small crammed co-working space and sit with them for an afternoon. Offer to code for free. San Francisco has many co-working spaces (shared offices for startups). They’re great to get a feel of what it’s like to start when there’s just a few founders and you don’t have your own garage. Visit Founders Den, Sandbox Suites, Citizenspace, pariSoma Innovation, the Hub,NextSpace, RocketSpace, Startup House, The Hatchery, PeopleBrowsr, Dolores Labs and DogPatch Labs. Check out here for more SF sites
See where hackers hang out: Driving down the valley see Studio G in Redwood City, Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, the Plug & Play Tech Centerin Sunnyvale, Semantic Seed in San Jose. Check out this site for the latest updates on co-working spaces.
Just finished reading “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Philip Tetlock. The book is similar to Nate Silver’s “The Signal and The Noise” in many ways.
I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re interested in the application of the scientific mindset to forecasting of future events.
“Suppose someone says, “Unfortunately, the popularity of soccer, the world’s favorite pastime, is starting to decline.” You suspect he is wrong. How do you question the claim?
Don’t even think of taking a personal shot like “You’re silly.” That only adds heat, not light. “I don’t think so” only expresses disagreement without delving into why you disagree. “What do you mean?” lowers the emotional temperature with a question but it’s much too vague. Zero in. You might say, “What do you mean by ‘pastime’?” or “What evidence is there that soccer’s popularity is declining? Over what time frame?” The answers to these precise questions won’t settle the matter, but they will reveal the thinking behind the conclusion so it can be probed and tested. Since Socrates, good teachers have practiced precision questioning, but still it’s often not used when it’s needed most.”
Enjoying reading Antonio‘s Chaos Monkeys now. The book is a rather honest account of launching and working at tech startups in the Valley.
Here is a quote on math behind Facebook growth, for example:
“The reality is that Facebook has been so successful, it’s actually running out of humans on the planet. Ponder the numbers: there are about three billion people on the Internet, where the latter is broadly defined as any sort of networked data, texts, browser, social media, whatever. Of these people, six hundred million are Chinese, and therefore effectively unreachable by Facebook. In Russia, thanks to Vkontakte and other copycat social networks, Facebook’s share of the country’s ninety million Internet users is also small, though it may yet win that fight.
That leaves about 2.35 billion people ripe for the Facebook plucking. While Facebook seems ubiquitous to the plugged-in, chattering classes, its usage is not universal among even entrenched Internet users. In the United States, for example, by far the company’s most established and sticky market, only three-quarters of Internet users are actively on FB. That ratio of FB to Internet user is worse in other countries, so even full FB saturation in a given market doesn’t imply total Facebook adoption. Let’s (very) optimistically assume full US-level penetration for any market. Without China and Russia, and taking a 25 percent haircut of people who’ll never join or stay (as is the case in the United States), that leaves around 1.8 billion potential Facebook users globally. That’s it. In the first quarter of 2015, Facebook announced it had 1.44 billion users. Based on its public 2014 numbers, FB is growing at around 13 percent a year, and that pace is slowing. Even assuming it maintains that growth into 2016, that means it’s got one year of user growth left in it, and then that’s it: Facebook has run out of humans on the Internet.
The company can solve this by either making more humans (hard even for Facebook), or connecting what humans there are left on the planet. This is why Internet.org exists, a vaguely public-spirited, and somewhat controversial, campaign by Facebook to wire all of India with free Internet, with regions like Brazil and Africa soon to follow. In early 2014 Facebook acquired a British aerospace firm, Ascenta, which specialized in solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles. Facebook plans on flying a Wi-Fi-enabled air force of such craft over the developing world, giving them Internet. Just picture ultralight carbon-fiber aircraft buzzing over African savannas constantly, while locals check their Facebook feeds as they watch over their herds.”
A fascinating weekend read about AI on Wait But Why:
“Kurzweil then takes things a huge leap further. He believes that artificial materials will be integrated into the body more and more as time goes on. First, organs could be replaced by super-advanced machine versions that would run forever and never fail. Then he believes we could begin to redesign the body—things like replacing red blood cells with perfected red blood cell nanobots who could power their own movement, eliminating the need for a heart at all. He even gets to the brain and believes we’ll enhance our brain activities to the point where humans will be able to think billions of times faster than they do now and access outside information because the artificial additions to the brain will be able to communicate with all the info in the cloud.”
For those who enjoyed the first three episodes of the Fresh interviews with early-stage tech entrepreneurs, here is the fourth episode with Powr of You Co-Founder on building a personal data start-up:
Please let us know what you think in the comments or give us some anonymous feedback.
If you liked the first episode, here are several ways to subscribe to updates:
- VIDEO updates: Youtube channel, Mail list and Twitter
- AUDIO updates: Podcast Mp3 RSS feed. iTunes Podcast is possibly coming soon.
- BLOG updates (all posts, not Fresh only): Blog RSS and email list
- BOOKMARK and visit videos page from time to time