Top Reads: June 2022
This month's top reads including articles on 10x thinking, cell-based meat, and how birdwatchers help climate change research.
Welcome to the long days of summer! Last week, the US rolled back a longstanding ruling on abortion, further endangering reproductive rights. Here's what you can do about it.
[Did a friend forward this your way? I write about trends in tech and social impact – with a few takes here and there. If you're into it, please subscribe!]
1. 10x not 10%
Bring the Donuts | 9 minutes
“Kodak was a 10% company, but they needed to be 10x. 10x is a moonshot, an order of magnitude improvement. If you’re only thinking 10%, you’re taking the obvious path that everyone else is on. 10x requires a whole new mentality. If Kodak executives had asked what it would take for the world to snap one trillion photos a year, a new understanding would have emerged. Clearly you wouldn’t get there by selling film.”
A classic read about the power of 10x thinking and its role in business and life.
2. What would it mean to treat guns the way we treat cars?
Vox | 5 minutes
“For legal, cultural, and political reasons, guns, like cars, are inextricable from American life. But if that is the case, it’s all the more reason that we need to try to implement whatever strategies possible to reduce harm. Moss said it plainly: “We’re not going to eliminate the car from American life,” and the same truism can be applied to guns. “I think what’s happened is we have normalized the deaths of children. We’ve become too accepting of this.”
This quick read examines how cars became safer through decades of scientific research and regulation – and how we might apply similar measures to guns. We’ve been failing our children as a society. Gun laws must change.
3. Google engineer says Lamda AI system may have its own feelings
BBC | 5 minutes
“Later, in a section reminiscent of the artificial intelligence Hal in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001, Lamda says: "I've never said this out loud before, but there's a very deep fear of being turned off to help me focus on helping others. I know that might sound strange, but that's what it is."
Interesting story on a potentially sentient machine. Regardless of the reality, this debate foreshadows a future in which AIs become self-aware under corporate control.
4. How should cell-based meat be labeled? What 1,179 comments to USDA say about stakeholders’ priorities
Food Dive | 10 minutes
“For the most part, the comments from cell-based meat companies and their defenders lacked the drama of those that came from traditional agriculture. But some, like the comments from The Better Meat Co., attempt to show the fight against cell-based meat as an exercise in futility. Better Meat is not in the cell-based meat business, but it produces protein for meat analogs from through fermentation. It likens meat to ice, which was once only obtainable naturally during cold temperatures, but now is available year-round thanks to technology.”
This article examines perspectives in the debate over cell-based meat product labels. While it’s early, we'll continue to see innovations that reduce the footprint of traditional animal products. I’ve already cut out most red meat, but predict that our kids and grandkids will bring criticism to the dinner table where older relatives insist on a traditional cut of steak.
5. TikTok is testing a ‘clear mode’ for a distraction-free scrolling experience
TechCrunch | 4 minutes
“The screenshots posted by users show that once clear mode is activated, you’ll no longer see usernames, captions, audio information and more. In some cases, it appears that you can get rid of the like, comments and share buttons as well in order to have a completely distraction-free viewing experience.”
TikTok continues to innovate on ways to capture our attention – all with minimal investment in content. Be careful to avoid getting distracted from that distracting video! Remember that we're biologically wired to chase low lift rewards, and that playing the long game is healthy.
6. Senator posts cryptocurrency bill on GitHub, chaos ensues
The Verge | 4 minutes
“The trolling also extends to commit requests, where one user proposed replacing the bill with the source code of the popular first-person shooter Doom. “This bill would do far more to benefit everyday Americans if its text was replaced with the source code of Doom,” reads a comment responding to the request. “Devs should merge asap.”
Crypto legislation, meet bored software engineers. Despite the efforts of these politicians to meet developers where they are, the internet trolls are always ready.
7. DOJ Charges Former OpenSea Exec in ‘Insider Trading Scheme’
Decrypt | 5 minutes
“As part of Chastain’s role as product manager, investigators said, he was responsible for selecting which collections would be featured. Once those NFTs had been featured and appreciated in value, he sold them for “two- to five-times his initial purchase price,” and used anonymous accounts and crypto wallets to conceal the transactions, according to investigators.”
The Feds are taking these market manipulations seriously – as they should. Competition needs rules, even if NFTs are new and volatile. These consequences signal more aggressive scrutiny and regulation of Web3 projects.
8. Finland’s binding climate negative goal is the new gold standard
Protocol | 3 minutes
“Finland had previously committed to an 80% reduction by 2050, so this change catapults the country’s progress forward by a full decade. Combining those reductions with the new legally mandated carbon negative goals in less than 20 years will require the country to rely on carbon dioxide removal in addition to simply lowering its overall emissions.”
“Carbon negative” can mean several things, but setting a goal that requires carbon removal is necessary, ambitious and impressive. Go Finland!
9. A Once-in-a-Lifetime Bird
The Verge | 24 minutes
“Climate change is a systems problem, and the prevailing attitude among scientists is that understanding those many ecological apparatuses and how they interact with each other is our best shot at modeling what will happen and how fucked or not fucked we might be. Birds may make up just one of those many systems, but eBird offers one of the few global data sets that can be measured across an annual cycle.”
A beautiful story about human resilience and our connection to nature through the lens of an amateur birdwatcher. The growing hobby and its supporting technology has even inspired a new term: surveillance naturalism.
10. Love Song to Costco
Longreads | 12 minutes
“I look up at the stadium lights shining down on us. In the great halls of Costco, two of our greatest fears are assuaged — that of not having enough, and that of not being enough.”
A brief, beautiful memoir about place and identity from writer Yuxi Lin.
Bonus: Why we need rituals, not routines
Vox | 8 minutes
“For these artists, rituals are inseparable from their creative output — which, in turn, are tied to their livelihoods. Yet rituals can be wholly separate from any form of labor that can be monetized. Making a bowl of oats can be a morning ritual.”
Rituals are distinct from routines, as their practice requires intention. Find what works for you.
On the topic of rituals, this newsletter just hit the 1 year mark! I'm as excited as ever to find you top reads from the past month, every month.
What else do you want to see? Don't be shy, hit reply! And if you're into it, feel free to buy me a slice of pizza.
Enjoy the summer! A little sunscreen goes a long way.