The Five Best Things: Oct 10, 2020

Learning from operators at the top of their game

Hi all, I started a new job this week at Google! I’m now a Product Manager in the Cloud AI group, helping other enterprises scale and serve their machine learning models. My first week at Google felt like the first week at college - there is so much going on and everyone is brilliant and nice at the same time!

I will continue to write these weekly posts, and I will clearly call out when I share something related to work.

In timely news related to my AMD piece last week, there are credible rumors of their $30B buyout of Xilinx. AMD also had their new product launches this week; the TLDR is that their CPU is incredibly strong (19% performance uplift at the same power) and puts Intel severely on the back foot, and their Graphics processor is getting within striking distance of Nvidia’s.

The Five Best Things

  1. Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth: The State of AI Report 2020.

  2. Food Insider: Butter making at Le Beurre Bordier

    • Ten minutes of bliss (apologies to the vegans who read this)! What a treat to watch someone who is on top of their game explain the art and science of their work.

  3. The Eavesdrop: Andy Miller interview extract on working with Steve Jobs.

    • In this video podcast excerpt, Andy Miller, ex-VP of mobile advertising at Apple talks about negotiating with Steve Jobs when his company got bought by Apple, being talked into moving to the Bay Area from Boston, and the intensity of working directly for Jobs.

    • An insight into someone else who was top of their game. Holy cow was Steve Jobs capable of boring lasers into your brains and bringing you to your knees, as both a boss and a negotiator.   

  4. ArtNet News: The Swift, Cruel, Incredible Rise of Amoako Boafo: How Feverish Selling and Infighting Built the Buzziest Artist of 2020

  5. Bloomberg: Harvard’s Chetty Finds Economic Carnage in Wealthiest ZIP Codes

    • The article covers the efforts of Raj Chetty - Harvard economist and MacArthur fellow - to understand and highlight the impact of Covid-19 on inequality in America. The result is https://tracktherecovery.org, which provides a zip-code level view of the spending, employment, public health and education trends in America right now. It shows that the recession has essentially ended for high-income individuals; meanwhile, the bottom half of American workers represent ~80% of the jobs still missing. This is devastating, especially when you square it with Chetty’s previous work which found that moving a child from a below-average to above-average neighborhood can boost their lifetime earnings by $200,000.

    • Raj Chetty is the Indian golden child who puts other Indian golden children to shame. I became aware of his work on economic inequality and the fading ‘American Dream’ in a freakonomics episode a few years ago. He cites that his goal is to “Bring economic measurement into the age of Big Data”, which can provide unprecedented visibility for policy makers seeking to alleviate inequality. These policies include inclusive college admissions, housing desegregation and providing structural support to young families.

Honorable Mentions

  1. A banner year for female Nobel prize winners! Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the prize in Chemistry for their CRISPR discovery, Louise Gluck in Literature for her poetry, and Andrea Ghez in Physics for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.

  2. Today is world mental health day; this thread on the importance of spending time with and loving one’s own self is timely.

  3. I can’t really top this caption.

  4. BBC: India's new paper Covid-19 test could be a ‘game changer’. Scientists in India have come up with a pregnancy-test like test for Covid-19 and are working to scale it up.

  5. Indian Uncles for the win.

  6. Reuters: SoftBank brings food service robot to labour-strapped Japan. Please just read the headline and then the very last line in this article.

  7. Bjorn Jeffery: The double edged sword of success: Understanding Naspers and their Tencent investment. I’m a tiny bit obsessed with Tencent, and so this was a fun read about Naspers, Tencent’s largest investor and a huge company in their own right. So few people in the U.S. know about them, but they are HUGE in fintech, classifieds and food delivery in Europe, Asia and their home continent of Africa.

  8. There’s technical debt, and then there is this equivalent of the bridge collapsing in Minneapolis.

  9. Do take this poll so the representation isn’t biased towards Silicon Valley.

  10. Probably one of the best data visualizations I have come across in recent times.