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
Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth: The State of AI Report 2020.
The 3rd annual state of AI report compiles key developments in the field of AI in the last 12 months, focusing on research, industry, talent and politics, along with predictions for the next 12 months. This year’s report puts a spotlight on the arms-race in large natural language models, domain-specific models that can be performant AND data efficient, and the huge strides being made in AI for biology. For the first time, the report covered ML Operations (or MLOps, i.e. taking models from research to production scale). Nathan and Ian also highlighted the significance of TSMC, which I’ve covered extensively!
The State of AI reports are must reads whenever they come out. It is well worth the 20 minutes to skim the headlines of these 170+ slides to get the gist of the state-of-the-art. For those wanting to get deeper, they are good jumping off points.
I am super happy that MLOps is covered since that is core to my role at Google! MLOps is the proverbial base of the iceberg - not sexy, but mission critical.
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.
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.
This story covers the rags-to-riches story of Amoako Boafo, a Ghanaian portrait artist, whose vivid, finger-sculpted portraits of Africans have catapulted him into an overnight sensation in the world of high-art which is thirsty for Black talent. It goes further into the selling and buying shenanigans of the art collection industry. The twist of how Boafo was able to take his power back is awesome! I don’t want to spoil it because I really want you to read this fully - start at The Lemon Bathing Suit painting (below) mid-way through the story.
Like a caper movie that is fully representative of our pump-and-dump times. It’s fun to read about someone brilliant and principled, who is able to take their power back from those who seek to exploit them!
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.
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.“I hope I can inspire other young women into the field. It’s a field that has so many pleasures, and if you are passionate about the science, there’s so much that can be done.” - Andrea Ghez speaking at today’s press conference where her in Physics was announced.
Today is world mental health day; this thread on the importance of spending time with and loving one’s own self is timely.
I can’t really top this caption.
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.
Indian Uncles for the win.
Reuters: SoftBank brings food service robot to labour-strapped Japan. Please just read the headline and then the very last line in this article.
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.
There’s technical debt, and then there is this equivalent of the bridge collapsing in Minneapolis.
Do take this poll so the representation isn’t biased towards Silicon Valley.
Probably one of the best data visualizations I have come across in recent times.