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The Hustle

Do mountain lions just see red, or are their thumbs just green? How about both? A new study found their gruesome dinner theater benefits vegetation, with decomposing carcasses leading to more protein-rich grasses. (And yes, we know they don’t have thumbs.)

In today’s email:

  • The latest in AI: It isn’t all bad… but it isn’t all good either.
  • Video: The weird world of hole-in-one insurance.
  • Return to spender: More retailers are charging for online returns.
  • Around the Web: A creepy tale, Marvel post-credits rankings, supermassive black holes at scale, and more internet finds.
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Kick in the Bot
AI Roundup

The AI giveth and the AI taketh away

Read enough about AI and two givens emerge: it’s the most constructive thing to ever exist… and also the most destructive.

Here’s the latest on AI’s capricious ways.

Giveth: More money to those who haveth

Economist Yingying Lu sees one consensus forming about money in an AI age: inequality will increase.


  • As AI replaces labor, the working class (and unions) hold less leverage.
  • Capital-rich institutions, meanwhile, wield more power.

Further, governments’ power to redistribute wealth could diminish as labor reductions shrink tax bases.

Taketh away: The era of supersized companies

AI-driven automation reducing headcounts shouldn’t surprise you — it’s already happening.

But there’s another way AI could shrink company sizes: leading by example.

  • Take OpenAI for instance: The ChatGPT maker shifted society with only ~375 employees. (Quite a different model from Meta’s ~66k-person workforce.)

Giveth: Improved vaccines

Baidu Research scientists developed an AI tool that can build more intricate mRNA structures, a development they expect will produce more potent vaccines with longer shelf lives.

The tool has only been tested for covid and shingles in mice so far, but antibody response has been encouraging.

Taketh away: Any doubt who America’s sweetheart truly is

Snoop Dogg isn’t an AI expert; he confirmed as much during a panel last week.

On investing in AI, the rapper said: “I’m like, are we in a fucking movie right now, or what? The fuck, man?… Shit, what the fuck? I’m lost. I don’t know.”

But give the man credit: He distills the feelings of this dizzying AI moment perfectly.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Don’t like getting dilation drops at the eye doctor? How about an ophthalmic spritz instead? Eyenovia Inc. got FDA approval this week on pupil-dilation spray Mydcombi, meant to deliver more accurate doses — and make the 106m exams performed annually in the US more efficient.


Google’s been pretty busy: During its annual I/O event, the company rolled out three new Pixel devices, including the much-hyped foldable phone, priced at ~$1.8k — and then began the AI bonanza…

… Bard’s waitlist is gone, for starters. Google says its chatbot is ready for the masses and also announced that AI will be increasingly baked into Google Search, Android messaging, photo editing, and its Workspace suite.

Congratulations to Buddy Holly, the first petit basset griffon Vendeen to win the Westminster Dog Show. Of course, we think all dogs are winners and wouldn’t be mad if you sent us pics of yours.

TurboTax will pay $141m to 4.4m customers to settle claims that it tricked millions into paying for tax services advertised as free. (Previous coverage here.)

Clean energy: Microsoft signed a deal to use Helion Energy’s fusion electricity by 2028.

Frank Nocean: A scammer allegedly made thousands of dollars selling “leaked” Frank Ocean songs, but they were all AI-generated.

Meanwhile, in China, a man was arrested for allegedly using ChatGPT to fabricate a news article about a deadly train crash that didn’t happen.

Etsy added a wedding registry option for couples who prefer that handmade touch.

Coca-Cola expects to break ground on a 745k-square-foot Fairlife production facility in Webster, New York, in 2025, that’s expected to add ~250 jobs.

Garbage day: Pencil in 2026 for the first-ever space trash collection mission — Swiss startup ClearSpace signed a launch contract with French rocketeer Arianespace to send its debris-collecting spacecraft into orbit.

Variety is the spice of life: Hot sauce leader Cholula is expanding beyond its famous wood-capped bottles for the first time with two new product lines — salsas and taco seasonings.


Whatever you need, you’ll likely find it on YouTube. And the options can be overwhelming. So we did the heavy lifting and rounded up five business creators you should know about.

Putting green
golf hole-in-one

Watch: Who pays for a golfer’s hole-in-one?

On a warm day in September 2009, Jason Hargett, a 35-year-old restaurant manager and father of four, stepped up to the tee at Red Ledges golf resort in Heber City, Utah.

It was the end of a charity tournament and a big prize was on the line: Anyone who sunk a hole-in-one would win $1m.

Hargett took a swing

The ball careened 150 yards through the air, plopped onto the green, and slowly rolled back into the hole. Cheers erupted from the small crowd as Hargett sprinted down the fairway in disbelief.

But one entity wasn’t celebrating: the insurance firm that had been hired by the organizers.

Trouble with a tee

If you’ve ever watched a golf tournament or charity event, you’ve probably seen some kind of prize for acing a specified hole. The chances of this happening for an amateur golfer are minuscule (~1 in 12.5k).

But most organizers can’t risk getting stuck with the bill.

Instead, they turn to hole-in-one insurance firms that assume the risk for a small fee — we made a quick video to show you how these arrangements work.

Let’s tee this baby up →
Free Resource

101 ways to network like a mensch

When it’s time to socialize for success… ya may as well give ‘em your best. 💃

Take 101 tips and templates for getting in your zone and crushing every function. For smoother maneuvers at the job fair, shindig, or symposium.

Networking pointers for:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Salespeople
  • Marketers
  • Students
  • Event attendees

Be yourself. Schmooze responsibly.

101 networking tips →
Point of No Return
returned boxes

Kiss your free returns goodbye

You know the drill: You find a great pair of shoes online but are between sizes, so you order two pairs and return whichever one doesn’t fit.

It was a foolproof, reliable system. It worked. That is until retailers said, “Pay up, losers.”

OK, they might not have used that exact language, but the sentiment stands: Per The Atlantic, an estimated 41% of retailers charged some kind of return shipping fee in 2022, up from 33% in 2021.

  • DSW charges $8.50 for returns
  • LL Bean takes $6.50 per returned package
  • Abercrombie & Fitch deducts $7 for online returns
  • Even Amazon started charging customers $1 for dropping packages at select UPS stores

While most retailers won’t charge if you return your rejected items at a brick-and-mortar location, standing in line at a cash register really takes the joy out of online shopping.

(We wanted to order our adult onesies and self-help books in private — that was the whole point!)

Why the change?

The average online purchase return rate is 15%-30%, and Americans returned $800B+ worth of goods in 2022. That’s a lot of boxes.

To make matters worse, a single return can cost a retailer $10-$20, not including transportation back to a warehouse, per The Atlantic.

Makes sense but…

… customers still aren’t pleased. More than half believe retailers should cover the cost of returns, and 62% said they’d shop elsewhere given a poor return experience with a brand.

While returns are more expensive than ever, so is therapy — so we might just stick with online shopping as our coping mechanism for now.

View on site

🍼 On this day: In 2000, newborn Aastha Arora became India’s one billionth citizen. Wanna feel old? A BBC reporter who visited her in 2022 learned she’d just started working as a nurse.

🔭 That’s cool: Just how big is a supermassive black hole? Allow NASA to illustrate.

🦸 Haha: Inverse ranked all 52 Marvel post-credits scenes, which people are definitely not going to get into heated arguments over, right?

😱 Spooky: The Bell Witch of Tennessee is the supposed haunting that inspired The Blair Witch Project, but it began nearly two centuries ago.

🦅 Aww: And now, I found you a blanket.

Friday work meme

If we may be honest for a second here: Thursdays, too. (Link)


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