Newsletter – July – The minimalist guide to the upcoming technological shift

Written by Matteo Cassese

I turned 40 earlier this year. And I fear that my ability to absorb innovation may be starting to wane. If you feel the same, whatever your age, this newsletter is for you.

We live in interesting times: we spread internet networks everywhere and made access to knowledge effortless. And this has produced an increase in the rate of innovation.

You know all that. But there are some technologies that are just hard to understand. They aren’t improvements on what we’re used to. They represent big shifts in new directions. Some changes may even “appear to rupture the fabric of human history.” But that’s way too dramatic, isn’t it?

Some of these new “shifty” technologies are highlighted in the articles in this issue. I don’t expect you and me to exploit all of them for fun or profit. But beware, they are quickly becoming an essential part of everyday life. We need to pay attention to them if we want to understand the world we live in.

I am talking about AI becoming Artificial General Intelligence, gene editing becoming simple and mainstream, and Bitcoin giving way to the blockchain and tokens. These “shifty” bits of technology require us to pause, and look with different eyes. We can’t evaluate them with the same metrics we use for a new iPhone launch. These are not mature, consumer adapted technologies. Rather precious pieces of a new infrastructure that will solve problems that we don’t even have today.

These articles are technical at times and quite complex. I’ve been postponing reading them for the longest time, because I didn’t want them to challenge my world view. But being challenged is the best thing that can happen to you and me today.

The time to understand the implications of future technologies is now.

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The superhero of artificial intelligence: can this genius keep it in check?

This is an older article but it does still deliver a portrait of the founder of DeepMind, it’s purpose and the relationship between the research group and the owners.

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Evolution, Accelerated – Freakonomics

What is CRISPR? What does it mean to be able to manipulate DNA of animals and plants? The brilliant Stephen Dubner hosts the experts you need to hear from in his familiar podcast Freakonomics Radio.

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Crypto Tokens: A Breakthrough in Open Network Design

How to we go from Bitcoin to Ethereum, to Blockchain applications and end up with Tokens? Venture Capitalist Chris Dixon gives us a good overview.

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Thoughts on Tokens

What are Tokens, how can we exploit the shared rules of the blockchain to create a network structure that is open, collaborative, yet financially sustainable. Well worth reading.

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The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern Economy

Technology is often just the beginning of the shift: what happens when behemoths try to capture bigger and bigger markets?

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Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report | Code 2017

A ritual this time of the year is to come together and watch Mary Meeker’s internet trends report.


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