Top Reads: September 2022

This month's top reads feature billionaire philanthropists, robot deliveries, and the latest on AI-generated images.

Top Reads: September 2022
Photo by Johannes Plenio / Unsplash

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1. Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away The Company

NYT | 8 minutes

Photo by Snowscat / Unsplash
“The easiest paths, selling the company or taking it public, would have given Mr. Chouinard ample financial resources to fund conservation initiatives. That was the strategy pursued by his best friend, Doug Tompkins, founder of the clothing companies Esprit and The North Face. But Mr. Chouinard had no faith that Patagonia would be able to prioritize things like worker well-being and funding climate action as a public company.”

An incredible show of purpose from Patagonia. Bravo, Yvon!

2. It’s Time to Prepare for a Ukrainian Victory

The Atlantic | 7 minutes

Source: Metin Aktas / Anadolu Agency / Getty
“To prepare for Putin’s exit does not mean that Americans, Europeans, or any outsiders intervene directly in the politics of Moscow. We have no tools that can affect the course of events in the Kremlin, and any effort to meddle would certainly backfire. But that doesn’t mean we should help him stay in power either. As Western heads of state, foreign ministers, and generals think about how to end this war, they should not try to preserve Putin’s view of himself or of the world, his backward-looking definition of Russian greatness.”

Ukraine appears to be turning the tide to reclaim territory and seek justice – or at least those were the headlines a few weeks ago. We need to imagine the possibilities and challenges that will come with a new era in Russia.

3. Remote Startups Will Win the War for Top Talent

Future | 4 minutes

Il est souvent tentant de trouver une solution sans trop prendre la peine de bien comprendre ce qu'on tente de résoudre. Au fil des années, nous avons acquis la conviction que la connaissance profonde des besoins est primordiale et préalable à la conception de solution. Nos méthodes de travail ont été organisées en conséquence, afin de maximiser la satisfaction de nos clients... Plutôt que celle de nos égos!
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash
“Studies show that when employees have flexibility over where, when, and how much they work — as opposed to the 40 hours in office standard — there is a marked increase of high performers in the organization. But when many companies go hybrid, they frequently dictate which days and hours their teams must show up. Both sides are using the same word, but it means very different things.”

This article is from a biased source, but a founder selling remote services to big companies must listen to their market. Options for flexible, remote-friendly work are what (most) employees want, whether or not companies choose to see it.

4. Uber Eats and Nuro sign a 10-year deal to do robot food delivery in California and Texas

The Verge | 4 minutes

Source: Uber
“Starting this fall, Uber and Nuro will deploy autonomous delivery vehicles in two cities: Mountain View, California, and Houston, Texas. Neither company would disclose the number of vehicles nor the expected number of customers who will participate in these early tests, but they did say they eventually hope to expand the service area to the greater Bay Area in California.”

This partnership is a preview of your food delivery experience in 10 years. For better or worse, it could be inevitable.

5. Clean Energy Projects Surge After Climate Bill Passage

NYT | 5 minutes

Source: Eze Amos for The New York Times
“At a time of economic uncertainty, the legislation gives companies more confidence that they can earn a return on their bets. The investments serve as affirmation of political leaders’ intent: to further accelerate America’s transition away from fossil fuels and to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers, especially those in China. Investment in renewable energy will total $1.2 trillion by 2035… Spending on solar power installations, for example, will be two-thirds higher because of the law.”

The new climate bill sets big money aside for renewables, domestic battery production and transmission lines. These federal incentives will inspire state and local legislation, boost crucial industries, and cut through red tape as we move to a cleaner grid.

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6. Ethereum Blockchain Eliminates 99.99% of its Carbon Footprint Overnight After a Successful Merge According to New Report

Consensys | 4 minutes

Source: Consensys
“Ethereum’s transition to Proof of Stake could not be more timely. The move paves the way for adopting Ethereum-based applications and tokens by groups who would otherwise have been deterred by the high carbon footprint... For example, more complex smart contracts, such as those used to power NFTs or enterprise applications, invariably rely on more code to transact. Under Proof of Work, the environmental price of using these applications was simply too great given the current state of the power sector decarbonization and typical mining locations. Under Proof of Stake, users can transact with NFTs or use complex smart contracts [at] a fraction of the impact.”

Ethereum has reached a huge milestone with completion of The Merge. According to creator Vitalik Buterin, it’s 55% done, and the rhyming future milestones will create even more scalability.

7. Wyoming will soon be home to the world’s largest carbon removal facility

Fast Company | 5 minutes

Photo by Chris LeBoutillier / Unsplash
“The first units in the system, called Project Bison, will be running by the end of next year. By 2030, as it scales up, the project plans to capture five million metric tons of CO2 a year, or roughly the equivalent emissions from driving a million gas-powered cars for a year. The “carbon removal” service will be sold to customers like corporations that want to offset their emissions. It’s the largest single project of its kind, so far, that’s planned anywhere in the world.”

Carbon removal is heating up. Challenges in the tech and marketplace remain, but even the UN says that humanity needs this technology to protect a habitable planet.

8. Intelligent People Use This Scientifically Proven Technique to Drastically Improve Their Memory

Inc. | 5 minutes

Photo by sarandy westfall / Unsplash
“A 2017 study had participants (with no mnemonic training) attempt to memorize 72 random words. They were then assigned to six weeks of training using the method of loci and retested after four months. Amazingly, the average participant could recall 62 of the 72 words, even months later.”

A look into an effective mnemonic to boost memory. To help your brain out, map related items to “rooms in a house” – and don’t shy away from making it weird!

9. The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse

The Guardian | 12 minutes

Source: Terravivos/Observer Design
“These people once showered the world with madly optimistic business plans for how technology might benefit human society. Now they’ve reduced technological progress to a video game that one of them wins by finding the escape hatch.”

Rich tech preppers invite a writer to assess their doomsday strategy. An interesting takeaway: collective food security is best for everyone, including these would-be hoarders.

10. The AI Unbundling

Stratechery | 10 minutes

Source: Ben Thompson / Midjourney
“AI-generated images will, per the image above, soon be a flood, just as publishing on the Internet quickly overwhelmed the old newspaper business model. Moreover, just as native Internet content is user-generated content, the iterative and collaborative nature of AI-generated content — both in the sense of being a by-product of content already created, and also the fact that every output can be further iterated upon by others — will prove to be much more interesting and scalable than what professional organizations can produce.”

A fascinating dialogue on AI-generated art, with a thoughtful framework, big predictions and an important critique. The ease of these tools has its allure (see: Text-to-Pokémon). Ultimately, hiring a talented human instead will honor their craft.

And now, it's with some hesitation that I invite you to check out these famous songs with visuals created by AI. Then, go support a human creator by buying band merch or a functional sculpture if that's your thing.

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.

That's it for this month. Take a deep breath and enjoy the weekend!


For my space nerds: The James Webb telescope took this incredible image of Neptune, its rings, and seven of its 14 moons. Cosmic beauty.