The Five Best Things: Sept 5, 2021

Back from summer break!

Actually, my laptop broke and I was too lazy to replace it until recently. I caved and bought an M1 Mac. I didn’t realize how few apps have native ARM binaries; most rely on x86 emulation, and it seems fast enough right now. Benchmarks concur.

The Five Best Things

  1. Tyler Cowen: How Gaming will change humanity as we know it

    • It’s been a very interesting few months for observers of the Metaverse concept, as it picks up in the mainstream. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella staked a claim for the ‘enterprise metaverse’, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is betting the future of the company on it, and Netflix is introducing video games tied to its original content.

    • Tyler Cowen argues that these developments are heralding a change for culture and government regulation. While cultural tenets build upon themselves and invite observation, games tend to be a self-contained universe that instead require participation. Similarly, government regulation has yet to catch up to the fact that trading - involving currencies, markets, prices and contracts - is taking place in games already.

      Just as gaming has outraced the world of culture, so will gaming outrace U.S. regulatory capabilities, for a variety of reasons: encryption, the use of cryptocurrency, the difficulties of policing virtual realities, varying rules in foreign jurisdictions and, not incidentally, a lack of expertise among U.S. regulators. 

      Meanwhile, China has taken a heavy hammer approach and restricted gaming to 3 hours a week.

    • Consumers are becoming participatory creators and will want to carry their creations and maximize their rewards across multiple virtual worlds. For this reason I think its unlikely that a single company will dominate - consumer preferences hew towards interoperability and openness. It’s also a devilishly hard problem to solve for technically, and developments here will be fun to watch in the next few years.

  2. Charlie Snell: Alien Dreams: An Emerging Art Scene

  3. Howard Marks: Thinking About Macro

  4. The Generalist: Tech in Africa

    • I read this briefing on the African tech and venture landscape over the summer; I found it eye opening and educational. I’ve bookmarked it as reference material as I seek to educate myself about the second largest continent, with a population of 1.2 Billion and expected to double in the next 30 years, with more than half the population under 25 years of age.

      Today, Africans make up 16% of the global population; by 2050, they will comprise 25%. Half of the expected 2.4 billion will live in five countries: Nigeria (411 million), Ethiopia (191 million), Egypt (153 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (197 million), and Tanzania (138 million). 
      Of those, Nigeria and Egypt already represent budding and flourishing tech economies. By 2050, 10 of the world’s biggest cities will be in Africa, In particular, the continent will see a rising middle class, expected to reach 580 million by 2030, with an upper class of an additional 116 million. For context, that’s more than double the current US population.  

    • With only 22% internet penetration and 45% mobile phone penetration, opportunities for foundational infrastructure and leapfrogs abound. Funding and exits in e-Commerce and FinTech dominate today; Identity Management, Healthcare and Education are the next big bets.

  5. Vogue: How Maya Ghazal Became the First Female Syrian Refugee Pilot

    • The world has some heavy things going on right now; I found comfort in reading about this Syrian refugee who resettled in the U.K, became a pilot, and was appointed goodwill ambassador for UNHCR.

      She went on to deliver five important steps that restored her hope and should be available for every refugee: do not label; regard education as important as food, water and safety; support university places for refugees; girls can do anything; and believe in us.

    • I also loved reading about other immigrant experiences here. Let’s be kind to those seeking a better life from distress.

Honorable Mentions

  • What’s going on with NFTs? Fred Wilson explained how ownership of “Scarce” goods used to be a unique experience that is now becoming shared; my friend Erik Huckle thinks we’re building the roads to the metaverse.

  • McSweeney’s: WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS I WILL NOT PICK THE RESTAURANT The brief return to somewhat safe in-person socializing means the return of restaurant choice prisoner’s dilemma games.

  • This week in animals: Australian cockatoos have learned how to flip garbage can lids with their beaks; in China, a herd of elephants had a 300-mile joyride where they

    .. broke into kitchens, squashed chickens, poked their trunks through the windows of a nursing home, crossed multilane highways, passed through a car dealership and caused more than $1 million in crop damages. They have been accused of getting drunk on fermented grain. Throughout, they’ve been trailed by a human migration: hundreds of officers, more than 60 emergency vehicles, a fleet of drones and constant media coverage.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not represent my employer.