Thinks 819

Greg Ip: “Industrial policy, often called “picking winners,” is sometimes seen as un-American by elevating the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats over that of the free market. In fact, the U.S. has a long history of intervening to support particular industries. Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury secretary, favored protection for American manufacturers to help them compete with the U.K…The lesson is that industrial policy is most likely to succeed when the goal is narrowly defined and leverages private-sector incentives. It is less likely to succeed when it is used to solve multiple social goals disconnected from the industry’s economic viability.”

NYTimes on India’s UPI: “The scan-and-pay system is one pillar of what the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has championed as “digital public infrastructure,” with a foundation laid by the government. It has made daily life more convenient, expanded banking services like credit and savings to millions more Indians, and extended the reach of government programs and tax collection. With this network, India has shown on a previously unseen scale how rapid technological innovation can have a leapfrog effect for developing nations, spurring economic growth even as physical infrastructure lags. It is a public-private model that India wants to export as it fashions itself as an incubator of ideas that can lift up the world’s poorer nations…Digital payments are being made for even the smallest of transactions, with nearly 50 percent classified as small or micro payments: 10 cents for a cup of milk chai or $2 for a bag of fresh vegetables. That is a significant behavioral shift in what has long been a cash-driven economy.”

Linwood Barclay on his love for model railways. ” When you’re a writer, and you spend your day imagining a world in your head, it’s nice to take a break and create one with your hands. Laying and ballasting track, sculpting mountains, planting trees, making roads, assembling intricate structures. And then there’s the actual running of the trains. Standing in the middle of the layout as a triple-headed freight or a VIA passenger train circles around me, the digital diesel sounds echoing throughout the room, affords a kind of Zen-like experience. I am transported from the stressful world we live in to this one, where anything and everything that happens is in my control.” I too had a model railways setup when Abhishek was young.

Atanu Dey: “Wealth is a purely human construct. Wealth is artificial. It’s not natural. There was no wealth in the world before humans arrived on the scene; there was only stuff. There were mountains, forests, fertile lands, rivers, minerals in the ground, animals and birds and fish and all sorts of things we don’t even have names for. But that was all stuff, not wealth. Humans created wealth in the world (and who knows perhaps in the entire universe, if humans are the only intelligent life in the universe.) Second, the amount of wealth has been growing monotonically since wealth began to be created. This increase is not due to some law of nature but it is an empirical fact. It’s partly because of the fact that humans create wealth coupled with the fact that the number of humans who have ever lived keeps increasing.”

Economist: “There are plenty of problems with India’s economy, from poor primary education to an inability to grow its limited manufacturing sector. But these were present even as previous growth spurts lifted millions out of poverty. Recent pains are thus more likely to reflect the pandemic’s after-effects. Construction firms in cities, for example, complain of labour shortages, as many workers who headed to villages during lockdowns have not yet returned. These may at last be starting to ease. The latest data releases suggest that rural wages may be picking up. Deposits in bank accounts set up for the poor are also rising. Even sales of two-wheelers are slowly creeping up. A lot more improvement will be needed, however, for claims of Amrit Kaal to ring true.”

Thinks 818

NYTimes: “If you’ve ever gone to bed upset about something and woken up noticeably less bothered, it’s likely a result of the emotional processing and memory reconsolidation that happen during REM. There’s evidence that your brain divorces memories from their emotional charge — removing the “sharp, painful edges” from life’s difficulties, said Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology and the founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. REM is “like a form of overnight therapy,” he said. REM also makes us better learners. During this sleep stage, your brain strengthens neural connections formed by the previous day’s experiences and integrates them into existing networks, Dr. Robbins said.”

A social network taxonomy by Ethan Zuckerman. “All taxonomies are, at least in part, arbitrary and incomplete. But taxonomies can be useful and they make it easier to talk about complex subjects. At a moment where there’s public debate about leaving Twitter for Mastodon, it’s worth spending time talking about ways in which the structure and governance of social networks can differ.”

Nathan Baschez: “How can we get people to accept a new idea? Show how it is a natural extension of the things they already believe. Sure, evidence also helps, but no amount of evidence will make someone believe a story they’re skeptical of. The other thing you can do is start with a group of people who are already inclined to believe the prerequisite narratives they’d need to accept to be interested in your new narrative.”

Tim Martinez: “I write for 3 reasons: (1) Writing helps me process my thoughts and make sense of the world at large (2) It serves as a historical journal (time machine) where I can track progress or simply get a kick out of how my perspective changes over time (3) Writing allows me an opportunity to share my personal and authentic voice with the world (and hopefully add value in the process). I’m not sure ChatGPT can accomplish this for me.” I said something almost similar to a person who asked me about my writing and the impact of ChatGPT.

WSJ on new ideas from Mobile World Congress: “AI will make phones smarter. Mixed reality will change our interactions. IoT will connect everything.”

Thinks 817

WSJ: “Whether it’s with a television, tablet or phone, no singular aspect of screen use is going to ruin your child’s development—just like eating a candy bar from time to time likely won’t derail your health. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, we’ve come to realize the impacts screens have on kids are nuanced and individualized. When I asked researchers involved in some of the studies above what comes next, they said they want to probe deeper into what’s going on in kids’ homes. Screens, it turns out, are a proxy for family dynamics.”

Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher: “Generative artificial intelligence presents a philosophical and practical challenge on a scale not experienced since the beginning of the Enlightenment. The printing press enabled scholars to replicate each other’s findings quickly and share them. An unprecedented consolidation and spread of information generated the scientific method. What had been impenetrable became the starting point of accelerating query. The medieval interpretation of the world based on religious faith was progressively undermined. The depths of the universe could be explored until new limits of human understanding were reached. Generative AI will similarly open revolutionary avenues for human reason and new horizons for consolidated knowledge.”

Paul Bloom on why we should keep reading Freud: “The Freudian idea with the most staying power is that the mind is at war with itself. As Freud conceded, he and his students were hardly the first to focus on unconscious motivation and conflict. But the emphasis they gave to it was unprecedented…contemporary research offers abundant evidence that, as Freud argued, we have no direct access to the sources of many of our emotions and desires. Much of what goes on in the mind occurs at a subterranean level. Freud was wrong about many things, but he was right about what matters the most.”

Baltasar Gracián: “Two kinds of people are good at foreseeing danger: those who have learned at their own expense, and the clever people who learn a great deal at the expense of others.” [via Shane Parrish]

Rex Woodbury on the retail revolution: “Before the Industrial Revolution, product differentiation was limited. As a result, marketing in its modern form didn’t exist. Only with the automation of manufacturing—which unlocked the floodgates of production—did it become essential to advertise products given consumers now had choice. The internet added accelerant to the fire, introducing new sales channels and the advent of digital advertising. Today, we’ve come a long way from trading cows: commerce is a $26 trillion global market, and e-commerce comprises about $6 trillion of that.

Thinks 816

Cato: “Immigrating to the United States is the main way to escape poverty in many countries. For about 3 dozen countries, most of their not‐​in‐​poverty population lives in the United States. Indeed, under the developed world poverty standard of $30 per day, immigration is just about the only way to escape poverty for several nationalities. Since poverty is practically assured in their home countries, it should not surprise lawmakers that millions of people would risk everything to immigrate to the United States. In 2019, only about 16 percent of people in the United States lived below the $30‐​per‐​day poverty line. This is somewhat higher than the 13‐​percent rate under the U.S. national standard (which is calculated somewhat differently). But for most countries, the poverty rates under the $30‐​per‐​day standard are well above 90 percent.”

HBR: “Compared with start-ups, established corporations have many resources and capabilities that ought to give them a substantial lead: products, customers, operations, licenses, distribution, marketing, and capital. But too often a couple of misfits with a laptop manage to steal a corporation’s lunch. Why? Because corporations lack one critical ability: the entrepreneurial muscle to take an idea from small to big, from zero to one. If its idea is radical enough and sound enough, a start-up can disrupt an incumbent’s value chain. Leaders try to respond by creating their own corporate ventures, but those typically lack entrepreneurial qualities because they are staffed by people trapped inside the regime. Or they create an arm’s-length spinout to make space for innovativeness, but then the spinout struggles to access the very resources that would give it an advantage. Enter the hybrid start-up, which combines the assets of a corporation and the entrepreneurial capability of a start-up”.

Jonny Miller: “How is your breath right now? Take a moment to tune in. There’s a reasonable chance (especially if you are reading this on your phone) that your breath is shallow, in the upper chest and possibly through the mouth. Our breath is perhaps the only activity in our body that happens on its own that can also be consciously controlled. Yet it is rare for most of us to inquire how our breath is or consciously control it. Why does this matter? Because how we breathe impacts how we feel, how we show up in the world, and even the types of thoughts that arise.”

Anticipating the Unintended: “Today, the biggest expenditure item in [India’s] union budget is neither defence nor home affairs, but the interest paid by the union government to borrowers on past loans. We are paying for the profligacy of past and current governments…The union government still runs a sizable revenue deficit, meaning that a portion of the borrowing is being used merely to keep the government running today. In other words, we snatch money from future generations to meet the demands of the current generation’s citizens.”

Feldman and Lithwick: “The [American] founders certainly had their intellectual and moral failings. They accepted and engaged in some horribly unjust and inhumane practices. But whatever else they were, the founders were not lacking in imagination or the power of analogous reasoning, nor did they seek to forever lash their descendants to the most cramped reading of democracy they could conjure. They thought creatively and capaciously, particularly about how history and tradition should be used to reason about justice, well-being, law and government. They were looking out through a telescope to a broader and more complex future.” [via Jamelle Bouie]

Thinks 815

NYTimes: “Started in 2017, Yudhveer Akhada is a residential wrestling academy for girls, run by a family of competitive wrestlers in Sonipat, a semi-urban industrial town in Haryana, a province in northern India bordering Delhi. Currently it hosts 45 trainees who, on arrival, are typically between 10 and 15 and are expected to stay until they are 20, immersing themselves in the burgeoning community of girls who wrestle. Every student who enters the academy has the same goal: to win an Olympic medal for India.”

NYTimes: “The simplest sign of a smoothly running gastrointestinal tract is also the most boring one: Your gut should chug along quietly and with little complaint. Eating or drinking should not cause more than occasional bloating or discomfort, and you should have regular, well-formed bowel movements every one to three days that pass without much straining, said Dr. Folasade May, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at U.C.L.A. If you regularly have discomfort or pain from symptoms like acid reflux, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, that could be a sign that your gut is not working optimally, Dr. May said. And it may be worth thinking about whether simple tweaks to your diet and other lifestyle factors would help.”

Brad DeLong: “There is a difference between the growth rate of wealth and what that growth rate of wealth means. You only go from having no indoor plumbing and no public health — and so having half your babies die before the age of five — to one in which infant mortality is extremely low and a genuine astonishing tragedy once. You only go from spending two hours a day, at least, thinking about how hungry you are and how it really would be nice to have more calories right now to not having to think about that once. You only go from having your children so malnourished that the adult heights of the boys are 5 foot 3, to adult heights of 5 foot 9 or so, on average — you only do that once. We did that, and we did that mostly in the 50 years after 1870, at least for the global north. We’re doing equal things in terms of how much we’re making since, but with possible exceptions after 2006 slowdown.”

FT on how AI can help us build imagination machines: “Ideally, we want machines to make up stuff that is reliable, not just plausible, and to extend the range of human insight. Can we use machine learning models to generate truly novel ideas in hard areas, including mathematics and science, and enrich human creativity? It is beginning to look that way…Robot learning models can tackle three barriers to human creativity: boredom, shame and vision.”

WSJ: “India has made some impressive strides. In recent years, numerous new expressways have been built or are under construction. From 2014 to 2019, national highway kilometers expanded by 45%. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, the number of airports has doubled and the total of rural roads has increased 85%. Electricity plant capacity has risen 66% and blackouts have become much less frequent…New infrastructure, regulatory reforms and digitization buttress its strength…But the lack of a stronger response to reform might also signal how much more work India has to do. The pandemic set back education for children, many young Indians aren’t finding jobs, and inflation and budget deficits are still high. It remains a hard place to do business; infrastructure still takes too long to build, held up by such factors as land acquisition.”

Thinks 814

WaPo: “It’s hard to think of another country as big and important as Indonesia that is so completely ignored by the American public. With a population of 274 million, it is the fourth-largest country in the world, the third-most populous democracy, and the most populous Muslim-majority country. (It has seven times as many Muslims as Saudi Arabia.) It is the world’s largest producer of nickel and could become the second-largest producer of cobalt — two of the minerals needed for making electric vehicle batteries. It dominates one of the world’s most strategically important waterways — the Straits of Malacca, linking the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Most of China’s energy supplies pass through the Straits. Little wonder that Indonesia has become a fulcrum of U.S.-China competition.”

Tim Martinez: “The one word I consistently wrote down in my notepad as I heard each person speak was “conviction”. The common thread amongst them all was the belief that they would make it eventually if they just stayed focused and kept grinding. And sure enough their dedication and commitment paid off. It was their conviction that helped them push through the tough times and served as a north star throughout their journey. When the going gets tough we have two choices – quit or stay the course. Our level of conviction determines which route we go.”

Evan Armstrong: “When AI automates content creation costs to zero, the effects will be far-reaching. More and more power will accrue in those companies that have novel acquisition methods that do no rely on any gatekeeper. In previous editions of this column, I’ve argued that “addiction will be the blood sacrifice required of consumers for businesses to win.” These tools will only exacerbate that dynamic. “

Nicholas de Monchaux: “If today’s designers are reaching further downstream from delineation through prototyping and direct fabrication, we would also gain much by asking design to travel further upstream, as it were. This means the focus groups and surveys involved in product creation, the legal and development decisions involved in building, the resources and decisions on which a designed world depends. From the continuous reuse of materials in a “circular” economy, through a shift in architecture’s focus to adaptive reuse, to the redesign of food away from an unsustainable focus on meat, we must reshape not just objects but also the culture and institutions that create them. Not incidentally, such work recaptures dē-signo in its original sense: not just the search for a more beautiful shape, but the shaping of a more beautiful and sustainable world.” More on design thinking: “Key to design thinking’s spread was its replicable aesthetic, represented by the Post-it note: a humble square that anyone can use in infinite ways. Not too precious, not too permanent, the ubiquitous Post-it promises a fast-moving, cooperative, egalitarian process for getting things done. When Cornforth arrived at IDEO for a workshop, “it was Post-its everywhere, prototypes everywhere,” she says. “What I really liked was that they offered a framework for collaboration and creation.””

Spencer Stuart has some questions for CEOs: “Have you created an environment where your team and employees are readily giving you feedback and sharing news that you may not want to hear? Are you thinking beyond the near term and preparing the organization for potential difficulties without creating fear and panic? How effectively are you using your internal and external sounding boards (including your fiduciary or advisory boards) to pressure test your insights and the actions you plan on taking? If a slowdown does happen, do you have the talent (breadth and depth), strategies, etc., in place to minimize exposure or even to expand your reach and create new market opportunities?”

Thinks 813

Bessemer: “Generative AI is in the limelight as technologists take stock of the machine learning models released in the last year, including ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, Dreamfusion, and soon to be GPT-4, among others. The trajectory and power of these large models is inspiring a new wave of startups. Bessemer had early conviction in the potential for large models to usher in a new era in technology. Today, we have conviction that AI models will also usher in a new era for search. By search we don’t just mean public internet search like Google. We think of search as the ability to query information and ultimately synthesize and draw conclusions from it. This definition encompasses everything from enterprise document search to conversational consumer products. Search is a trillion dollar opportunity that spans consumer, enterprise, and developer ecosystems—and with our AI-powered search market landscape, we explore what’s catalyzing these advancements.” More.

FT: “Apple has captured Gen Z in the US so thoroughly that younger consumers fear being socially ostracised for not having an iPhone, a trend that will allow the tech giant to gain market share across multiple product categories. Gen Z users — those born after 1996 — make up 34 per cent of all iPhone owners in the US, versus 10 per cent for Samsung, according to new data from Attain, an adtech data platform. The figure helps to explain how the iPhone grew its overall market share of actual phone usage from 35 per cent in 2019 to 50 per cent last year, according to Counterpoint, enabling Apple to grow its profits even as the broader market stagnates.”

Gulzar: “Contrary to logic, it’s very difficult impossible for a full government program, even a critical feature of a program, to be canned just because some evidence has emerged about its ineffectiveness. There are at least three reasons. One, the emergent evidence will always be rationalised away as either being not credible, or by pointing to unique contextual factors, or due to some confounding factor. Two, the absence of impact will be rationalised away as being a temporary phenomenon (say, once teachers and students learn how to use technology Edtech will start showing results). Three, there are only so many ways in which you can do the fundamental things in education, health, skilling, agriculture etc, which are captured in these programs and therefore canning them does not arise as a possibility.”

Ajit Ranade: “There are more than 65 million enterprises in India, perhaps 99% of them small or tiny. They typically employ less than 5 people and have a turnover under ₹20 lakh. Only 10 million have bothered to register on the Udyam portal set up by the central government. A large number of them operate in the shadows of informality. This is of course changing for the better, as they step into the goods and services tax (GST) net. Despite many committees and attempts at finding a solution, the problem of funding MSMEs or reducing their burden of high receivables just won’t go away, and is resistant to legal solutions or reform…Receivables are the biggest burden on small businesses.”

Economist: “Can “Altasia” steal China’s thunder?…No single country offers China’s vast manufacturing base. Yet taken together, a patchwork of economies across Asia presents a formidable alternative. It stretches in a crescent from Hokkaido, in northern Japan, through South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, all the way to Gujarat, in north-western India. Its members have distinct strengths, from Japan’s high skills and deep pockets to India’s low wages. On paper, this is an opportunity for a useful division of labour, with some countries making sophisticated components and others assembling them into finished gadgets. Whether it can work in practice is a big test of the nascent geopolitical order.”

Thinks 812

strategy+business: “Companies in every industry are investing to improve the experience they deliver to customers, and for good reason. PwC research has found that a great customer experience can justify a price premium of 16%. Being customer-centric sounds easy but is tough to execute well. Success requires knowing your customers and what they really want, and then activating your culture so that it supports employees’ daily behaviors—the hundreds of small decisions that make up their workday—to consistently deliver the customer experience you want…There’s clear value in improving the customer experience, but companies can’t do that solely by looking outward. Instead, they need to look inward and make some intentional choices about what kind of experience their culture can support among the five models we’ve identified. Equally important, they need to align their company culture toward that objective, starting with employee behaviors. When all those elements are in harmony, that’s when companies become truly customer-centric.”

Varun Gandhi: “India’s cities are facing a number of challenges related to urban planning and the impact of climate change. Mumbai and Gurugram, for example, sink from annual flooding due to heavy monsoonal rains. Bengaluru and Hyderabad are facing the issue of vanishing local lakes and Delhi is witnessing rising encroachment of the Yamuna floodplain areas due to increased infrastructure projects. With the increasing frequency of high intensity rainfall, Indian cities will continue to be affected. Bad urban planning, combined with climate change, will mean that Indian cities are perennially besieged. To address these issues, a different model of urbanization is needed. India needs to prioritize economic integration within its cities, improve transportation options, and shift towards affordable housing. Currently, the focus has been on providing high-end housing neglecting the needs of the urban poor. In addition, there is a need for better access to quality education and healthcare, and for cities to become safer for everyone, particularly women.”

Vaclav Smil: “Between 1993 (Pentium) and 2013 (the AMD 608), the highest single-processor transistor count went from 3.1 million to 105.9 million, a bit higher than prescribed by Moore’s law. But since then, progress has slowed. In 2008 the Xeon had 1.9 billion transistors, and a decade later the GC2 packed in 23.6 billion, whereas a doubling every two years should have brought the total to about 60 billion. As a result, the growth of the best processor performance has slowed from 52% a year between 1986 and 2003, to 23% a year between 2003 and 2011, to less than 4% between 2015 and 2018. For computers, as for every other technology before, the period of rapid exponential growth will soon become history.”

15 reflections on martech and more from 15 years of writing: by Scott Brinker. More: “The current generation of martech products have largely been borne on the back of three major technology S-curves: SaaS. The move from on-premise software to services offered in the cloud, Social Media. Sharing and consuming content from networks of friends and colleagues: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Mobile. Designer computers carried in our pockets, connected everywhere we go, with ecosystems of millions of apps. These three S-curves have delivered massive changes to the world, the tech industry, and the marketing profession. They made “martech” a thing. And in the process, hundreds of martech companies have made billions of dollars riding the exponential upward growth of these S’s. But all three of these S-curves are plateauing. Think about it: there haven’t been any real earth-shattering changes to SaaS, social media, or mobile over the past five years.”

FT on CEO whisperers: “Crises and firefighting are all in a day’s work for the average CEO. So too is the receipt of professional advice. Senior executives can call on any number of experts and consultants, yet finding a confidant is not always easy. Who is that person the boss can be certain has their back? Who is always there to act as a sounding board when times are tough? And who can hold up a mirror and ask the questions that no one else will?”

Thinks 811

Ruchin: “Across the Generative AI stack, there are four key levels we’ve seen emerge: The silicon – The Nvidias and Tensors of the world. The shovel sellers in the gold rush. The cloud – The AWS, GCP and Azures of the world that expose the silicon to developers. The gold – Open and closed-source models like GPT-3, Stable Diffusion. The magic – Apps that expose the magic to the average B2B or B2C user. Think Jasper,, Writesonic, or Murf.”

William Dalrymple: “After Nadir Shah’s invasion, the Mughal empire was shattered. There was no money for governance or to pay the army. The empire fragments from a single unitary state with a million men under control to a situation where every small town was self-governing, say Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Tanjore, Hyderabad… all become independent States. That is what anarchy is, the idea of moving from a centralised state to a decentralised one. This is the world the East India Company managed to take over. The extraordinary thing is, it managed to do so using Indian troops and Indian money. At the time of the Battle of Plassey, there were only 200 white employees in India and 35 in the head office in England. It used the money of Indian bankers like the Jagat Seths. Like how some corporations have enormous influence over the government today, those days, the East India Company was able to set town against town, and using local capital and local manpower, it was able to take over the whole country. It is extraordinary.”

WSJ: “Today…AI’s biggest impact comes from changing the jobs rather than replacing them. “I don’t see a job apocalypse being imminent. I do see a massive restructuring and reorganization—and job quality is an issue,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab. McKinsey estimates 60% of the 800 occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics could see a third of their activities automated over the coming decades. For workers, the technology promises to eliminate the drudgery of dull, repetitive tasks such as data processing and password resets, while synthesizing huge amounts of information that can be accessed instantly. But when AI handles the simple stuff, say labor experts, academics and workers, humans are often left with more complex, intense workloads.”

Shankkar Aiyar: “It is estimated that[India’s] general government– centre plus the states – will borrow around Rs 23.5 lakh crore this year or roughly Rs 6400 crore a day. The cost of borrowings is bound to rise as the RBI pushes further rate hikes to contain inflation – and will inform and influence the ability of governments to borrow. India remains the fastest-growing large economy. However in order to preserve its position it would need to crowd in private investment, create incomes and propel growth. This is challenged by the spectre of inflation, level of general government deficit and cost of money. The circumstance calls for refocus of attention on policies – asset monetization and disinvestment for instance – to harness resources and leverage its demography. India can scarcely afford daily political distractions which detain action and popular aspirations.

Ryan Holiday: “Once the mind has accepted a plausible explanation for something, it becomes a framework for all the information that is perceived after it. We’re drawn, subconsciously, to fit and contort all the subsequent knowledge we receive into our framework, whether it fits or not. Psychologists call this “cognitive rigidity”. The facts that built an original premise are gone, but the conclusion remains—the general feeling of our opinion floats over the collapsed foundation that established it. Information overload, “busyness,” speed, and emotion all exacerbate this phenomenon. They make it even harder to update our beliefs or remain open-minded. [via Shane Parrish]

Thinks 810

Ezra Klein speaks to Tim Hwang: “A core focus of the show this year is going to be attention. But not your attention, not my attention, not attention as a capacity of the individual, where we give you hacks to grayscale your iPhone or meditate in the morning or eat better food. Our attention — attention is seen as a collective resource, as a public good. Attention is, in total, the depth of thought and consideration a society can bring to bear on itself, its problems, its opportunities — everything from how to find economic prosperity, to solving climate change, to strengthening our democracy, or for that matter, doing the reverse of any of those things. All of it depends on our capacity to pay attention, on the quality of the attention we pay, and on the condition we’re in when we pay attention. But like any collective resource, attention, it can be polluted, it can be exhausted. And I think to a large extent, it has been. And to see how and why, we have to get really deep into the business of attention. So today’s episode is part of that inquiry.”

Bent Flyvbjerg: “[Pixar has] had 20-plus blockbuster hits in a row. No Hollywood studio has ever done that. This is statistical evidence that something is going on that is not just chance. The way Pixar does it is by iterating over and over and over again. If you have an idea for a film, you write a few pages and that’s evaluated by your colleagues. Then you write a longer version and you get the feedback on that. Then you start doing storyboards, where you have an image for different things that are going to happen in the movie, and you get feedback on that. They go through eight or nine iterations where they have increasing amounts of feedback on larger and larger versions of the film. Once you bring in the real actors and the real computer animation, the costs go up many, many times. So Pixar squeezes as much as possible into that preparation stage, where you’re trying, you’re learning and then you do it again based on what you learn. You try to get higher and higher on the learning curve.”

NYTimes: “Many years ago, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk and spiritual leader, posed a question to Marc Benioff, the co-founder and chief executive of Salesforce. “What is more important, being successful or being happy?” he asked. Mr. Benioff answered pretty much the way you would expect a Silicon Valley entrepreneur to answer. “Both,” he said. Thich Nhat Hanh cautioned that “if everything is important, nothing is important.””

Braff: “If you have a startup idea and want help turning it into a strong business plan, ChatGPT has answers. Start by giving it a prompt that sets out your business idea in a summary paragraph: I need help with a startup business. Here’s a summary of my business idea: [summary]. Having started the chat this way, I’ve found there are 10 questions where ChatGPT can provide helpful ideas.” Some of them: What are the 5 biggest weaknesses that you see in this idea? What are 10 free data sources that I can use to do market research to determine the size of these customer segments and total industry revenue? For each target customer segment that you named earlier, what are some ideas for advertising copy and slogans that I can use?”

Read: The Villa by Rachel Hawkins, and What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall