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The Hustle

When you think about its hard iced teas, Twisted Tea apparently also wants you to think about… unwanted back hair? To promote shirt-free summers, the beverage brand is selling tea-scented back wax, beating out competitors like absolutely nobody in claiming the world’s first hard-iced-tea-inspired hair removal system.

In today’s email:

  • Bot brains: How machine learning works.
  • Office hours: Read about cutting out early before doing it yourself.
  • Weekend Reads: Fill the time between Barbie and Oppenheimer.
  • Around the Web: Beat a 65-year-old Scottish retiree at Scrabble, sharpen your language skills, and more.

👇 Listen: How the US is cracking down on the junk fees that can make renting even more expensive.

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The big idea

Machine learning, explained

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also used interchangeably, but the two computer science terms are different.

AI is when a machine can perform a task that would have once required human intelligence. Machine learning is a subfield of AI.

The term…

… was coined by computer scientist Arthur Samuel in the 1950s as “the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without explicitly being programmed.”

This is done by feeding machines a bunch of data, which they use to identify patterns and make predictions or suggestions.

By feeding a computer several checkers games, Samuel taught it to play well enough to defeat a human champ.

Other examples include:

  • Netflix and YouTube recommendations
  • Email spam filters
  • Predictive text

Accuracy increases over time, and the better the data, the better the outcome.

A few methods include…

… supervised machine learning, in which machines get labeled data (e.g., pictures of cats and dogs, labeled by humans, to teach a computer to identify dogs).

Unsupervised machine learning is when machines identify patterns from unlabeled data. For example, if given unlabeled customer data, a system could cluster customers into segments based on their behavior.

Reinforcement trains models by telling them when they’ve made the correct choice. This is how you’d get a computer to excel at checkers, but it’s also how smart vacuums navigate your home.

Are there any issues with machine learning?

Machines can sort through massive amounts of data faster than we ever could, but:

  • They can perform in unintended or unexpected ways, rendering them useless or harmful. See this post from AI researcher Janelle Shane about how AI cheating detectors are often wrong.
  • Because they’re trained by humans, they can also carry human biases.

For more: Check out this cool visual explainer.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Colorado startup Koloma wants to lead the clean energy charge with “geologic” hydrogen, regenerative underground gas deposits that could yield carbon-free power. Betting on Koloma to make it happen? Bill Gates, among the backers giving them $91m to keep drilling.


TodAI in AI: Google is testing a tool for journalists called Genesis, which can write news stories. But can it do this? [Spins basketball on finger, then dances the “Electric Slide.”] Didn’t think so.

Palm reading: You’ll soon be able to literally hand over money to Amazon, with the company launching pay-by-palm tech at all of its Whole Foods stores this year. Can’t wait to leave our prints on file while buying overpriced organic vegetables.

Californian strikes gold: Congrats to the $1.08B Powerball jackpot winner, who will now have to decide between a $558.1m lump sum or 29 annual payments, both of which should help them more comfortably shop at Whole Foods.

Lights, camera, inaction: American films notched $592m at the Chinese box office in the first half of the year, which sounds like a lot until you compare it to the $1.9B they earned during the same period in 2019.

Closer to home: A poll found that 11% and 12% of adults think going to Mars and the moon, respectively, should be NASA’s top priority. But 60% have clearly seen Armageddon because they think monitoring potentially dangerous asteroids is key.

Yassified: Maybelline and Microsoft are partnering on 12 beauty features that users can try on during Teams meetings. OK, now do one that makes it look like I’m not wearing pajamas.

How rich is Elon Musk? Rich enough that he lost $13.6B in net worth yesterday (on account of a Tesla stock dive) and still has a $40B lead on Bernard Arnault, No. 2 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

GOAT meets boat: The next sport seven-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady hopes to conquer is electric boat racing, apparently. Brady bought a team in the E1 World Championships, a global boat league launching next year. Also an E1 owner: tennis great Rafael Nadal.

Casual Friday: A WSJ poll took workers’ temperature on office fashion rules, and things have gotten surprisingly lax: Baseball caps and shorts were deemed work-appropriate by a slim majority. The only fashion reject: sandals, with 54% saying they were “never OK.”

search interest for how to leave work early
Olivia Heller

On the job from nine to five… or is it four?

If you’re considering an early dip from the office today, ideally it’s because you’ve got something important to do, and not because you’re planning a covert escape from the bathroom window so nobody sees you in a full-body Spider-Man costume.

In either case, recent data appears to suggest workplace hall-of-famers like “would ya look at the time” and “let’s call it a day” are broadly being declared earlier than usual.

Time to bounce

The share of meetings scheduled between 4pm and 6pm across Microsoft Teams dropped 7% YoY in recent months, according to The Wall Street Journal. Elsewhere…

  • On Yelp, 10% of restaurant diners are now seated between 2pm and 5pm, up from 5% in 2019.
  • Uber trips to restaurants between 4pm and 5pm are up 10% from 2019, and down 9% after 8pm.
  • Stanford researchers found golf courses to be 143% busier on weekdays in 2022 versus 2019.

Notably, signing off earlier doesn’t mean you’re not signing back on later; Microsoft Teams users now send 42% more after-hours chats compared to a year and a half ago.

Leading the charge: 44% of senior-level office workers and 50% of mid-level workers who now prefer to work from home, according to McKinsey, versus 6% of junior workers.

  • These employees all said they’re willing to swap 20%+ of their compensation to work at home as they wish.

Time is money: To make the most of working hours, Shopify recently deleted 322k hours-worth of meetings, and now displays a meeting’s estimated financial cost on the calendar.

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Free Resource

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It’s time to come clean… we’ve been cheating on you.

In our spare time, we’ve been writing another newsletter. It’s specifically made to inspire savvy side-hustlers and Swiss army knife-type operators.

It’s called Trends TLDR (nice, right?).

Just last week, we covered software startup lessons, edible insects, and the business of salt caves. The week before, it was human-led matchmaking, flow-state brain training, and the science of virality.

We feel sick about this, and hope that, in time, you may forgive us. But as consolation, please take these free data-driven briefs for your inbox.

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Weekend Reads

Wild week behind ya? Take a breather this weekend and enjoy our top picks. You bring the drinks, we’ve got the links.

  • Story: Sonic logos have proven to be a sound business strategy for brands from Ricola to Netflix to AT&T. Here’s why so many brands use sound to make you buy stuff.
  • Video: And if you’re curious about how they actually make the sounds that make you buy stuff, check out our on-location video about how sonic brands are made.
  • Tweet: If the thrill of spreadsheets, emails, and the wait for a much-needed raise keep you on the edge of your seat, you may relate to this one.
  • Blog: Friday slump setting in? You might need a dose of motivation. Here are some ways to get back on your grind and bring your co-workers with you.

🚂 On this day: In 1904, the ~5.8k-mile Trans-Siberian Railway wrapped up construction. The train featured marble-tiled bathrooms, a library, and gym. But if you were in third-class, it was a tight squeeze — for four weeks, if there were no delays.

🧠 Cure boredom: Play Scrabble against a dad.

🚀 Blog: We rounded up 15 of the best startup communities you can join to get your idea off the ground.

📚 Useful: This website helps you practice another language by reading short texts.

😍 Aww: The internet has fallen in love with Tater Tot, a tiny rescue kitten born with malformed limbs.

  1. Somewhere out there, someone’s complained about you on the internet. SOURCE

  2. Eating two pieces of bread and butter seems normal. Eating a butter sandwich seems really abnormal. SOURCE

  3. Smithereens are the most classic thing to be blasted into. SOURCE

  4. There is no temperature at which a smoothie will maintain its consistency. SOURCE

  5. NASA is the paparazzi of the real stars. SOURCE

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Editing by: Ben “Pinball machine learner” Berkley.

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