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🌍 Earthships, explained
April 15, 2022
PLUS: Shower thoughts, Musk + Twitter, Wikishirts, and more.
Crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi bought an NFT of Jack Dorsey’s 1st tweet for $3m. He’s now auctioning it for $48m, comparing its potential value to that of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Unfortunately for Estavi, the highest bid as of Thursday morning was ~$6.8k.
In today’s email:
Earthship: The true off-grid house.
Chart: ElonMusk offered to buy Twitter. Why?
Forever online: Startups want us to live on as AI.
Around the web: Wiki fashion, analyzing Wordle, a public Google Docs search tool, and more cool internet finds.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear our analyst’s thoughts on 2 potential use cases for NFTs — one good, and one bad.
The big idea
An earthship is a house that powers itself
An earthship-style home in Santa Fe could be yours for $3.4m+. But…
What’s an earthship?
Architect Michael Reynolds, founder of eco-construction company Earthship Biotecture, came up with the concept in the 1970s.
He saw 2 problems — lack of affordable housing and too much trash — and figured he could build homes out of discarded materials.
Natural or repurposed building materials (e.g., used tires, mud, reclaimed wood or metal)
Thermal or solar heating and cooling (not electricity or gas)
Solar- and wind-powered
Water collected from rain and snowmelt
Contained sewage treatment (i.e., gray water is used and treated by plants, then collected in a well and pumped to toilets for flushing)
Interior, in-home farming
Essentially, live in one of these babies as intended, and you’re pretty much set for off-the-grid life.
Why so expensive?
This particular home, known as Desert Flower, wasn’t built by Reynolds, but designer John McGowan. And it’s huge, with 5 bedrooms and amenities including a hot tub, pool, sauna, and art and music studios spread across 2 dwellings.
Earthships are also rare, with less than 10 on the US market now, per Realtor.com.
Several are located in the Greater World Earthship Community, an off-grid subdivision near Taos, New Mexico, where 3 are on the market. Those are all asking under $1m and are much smaller.
For the earthship-curious…
… you can book a stay in one through Earthship Biotecture, including one called the Hobbit House for $150 per night. The Desert Flower is also listed on Airbnb for $1k+ per night.
BTW: Here’s Reynolds discussing his designs at TEDxCaboPolonio.
Price hike: Amazon is tacking on a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge for retailers that use its fulfillment services. #ecommerce-retail
That’s cool: A solar-powered boat is on a 3-year voyage, with assets like a mini farm and weight-sensitive nets that prevent overfishing. #clean-energy
Startup NextSense uses earbuds to collect neural data. Why? To improve sleep and hopefully help those with mental health conditions or epilepsy. #emerging-tech
The Dallas Cowboys’ partnership with Blockchain.com is the NFL’s 1st crypto sponsorship. Fans will now notice QR codes on AT&T Stadium seats and fan offers in the platform’s wallet. #fintech-crypto
Neat: You can now search comments on Reddit. The feature is currently available on the website, but not the apps. #big-tech
On Thursday, Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter outright for $54.20/share in a deal valued at ~$43B. Naturally, he shared the SEC filing — which outlines his “best and final offer” — in a tweet.
The news is the latest in an ongoing Musk-Twitter saga:
April 4: Musk bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter, making him the company’s largest shareholder.
April 5: Twitter announced Musk would join the board.
April 10: Musk rejected the offer to join the board.
Now, Musk says he wants to take Twitter private, which he believes would enable the platform to better serve the “societal imperative” of free speech through alternative policies and an open-sourced algorithm.
Musk is a prolific tweeter himself, known for crude jabs at the SEC and sitting senators, and esteemed jokes about toilets and the number 69.
Over the years, Twitter has struggled to grow its business meaningfully, with its stock nearly flat to where it was in 2013. The company is now worth ~$35B.
Musk’s net worth has ballooned to ~$259B during the pandemic. In an interview following the news, he said he doesn’t “care about the economics” of Twitter.
A Twitter insider toldThe Information the company’s board plans to fight the bid.
AI Ever After
Can you live forever on a computer?
Sci-fi loves a good brain upload plot.
A 1998 episode of “The X-Files” features a computer genius who uploads herself to cyberspace.
“San Junipero,” a 2016 episode of “Black Mirror,” follows 2 women falling in love in a digital afterlife.
But is it possible IRL?
Artur Sychov, founder of metaverse company Somnium Space, has created a feature called “Live Forever” mode.
It essentially collects data while you’re in VR — how you move and speak — and builds an AI avatar of you. Your avatar can interact with others, even after you’ve died.
Sychov toldVice he was inspired by his ailing father and the realization that his children would never get to know their grandfather.
And he’s not the only one to try to replicate a loved one via AI:
You, Only Virtual (YOV) founder Justin Harrison modeled a chatbot after his mother, based on data including 2.8k pages of text messages. To build your own, it’s $499 upfront, then ~$40/mo.
Artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s 2015 Hereafter Institute exhibit in LA contemplated digital afterlives and included a VR simulation of his late grandfather.
A clip of a South Korean woman reuniting with her daughter in VR went viral — and provoked intense debate.
These avatars are mostly made for the living, serving as a way to hold on to those we’ve lost. But could we ever really live in computers?
For The Atlantic, neuroscientist Michael Graziano wrote that it may be possible to achieve that kind of brain scan, but the tech would take decades to develop.
And the same question would remain: Is that you, or a copy?
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